Kapūkakī is a well known storied place on the island of Oʻahu. It is located in the ahupuaʻa (land division) of Moanalua. On the ʻEwa side of Kapūkakī is the ahupuaʻa of Hālawa.
There are many stories about Kapūkakī. It was there that Kāne and Kanaloa competed in hurling stones. One stone went astray and when they searched for it, it was found at Pili o Kahe. This Pili o Kahe became the western boundary of the ʻEwa District and the eastern border of the district of Waiʻanae. In the story of Pīkoiakaʻalalā, these are the same borders of the district of ʻEwa, Kapūkakī and Pili o Kahe, that were named by King Kākuhihewa.
In the story of Keaomelemele by Moke Manu, the lizardfolk from Kuaihelani landed at Waialua and traveled in rows through Kapūkakī to Nuʻuanu. A spring in Moanalua stream is named for Koleana, one of the leaders of the moʻo procession. Another traveler went through it too. It was through Kapūkakī that Kaʻōpulupulu, the high priest of Waimea, Oʻahu, went on to his death at Waikīkī by the order of Kahahana.
In the story of Laukaieie by Moke Manu, the name, “Kaleinakuuhane [Kaleinakaʻuhane, the leaping point of the spirit] o Kapukaki,” was named in the travels of Makanioe and Laukaʻieʻie. They had searched for sources of water of the land and at the famous spring of Kualiʻi, Nāpeha, is where they tarried for awhile before ascending to Kapūkakī.
Nāmakahelu, the famous chanter of Moanalua, also used the term, “leinakauhane” in describing Kapūkakī. According to her, a jumping-off point was there for spirits to enter the realm of the ancestors. According to Malo, this jumping/leaping point was near the heiau named Leilono which was pointed out by McAllister as being on the flat side hillsides above Āliapaʻakai (Salt Lake). Located there was the “Breadfruit Tree of Leiwalo.” There, the spirit would leap and enter, with the assistance of a family guardian, into the realm of the ancestors. If no guardian was there, the spirit would jump and grasp onto a dry branch of said tree and be lost to Milu, the underworld.
During the cholera epidemic of Honolulu, the bodies of the dead were brought to Kapūkakī to lie in peace at the “Cemetery of Compassion.” The land was donated by S. Damon who also named the graveyard. Previously, that cemetery was about where the parking lot of the church and hospital now stands.
In the Land Division of 1848, Kapūkakī was awared to Kekūanaoʻa and Kamaʻikuʻi. Kekūanaoʻa (Mataio) was governor of Oʻahu at the time and Kamaʻikuʻi was Grace K. Young Rooke, the hānai mother of Queen Emma. A large portion of Moanalua was alloted to Kekūanaoʻa’s son, Lot Kapuāiwa (Kamehameha V), some 9.045 acres, and another large portion, 6,928 acres, to William Sumner. Lot’s lands were passed down to Princess Ruth Keʻelekōlani in 1872 and on to Princess Pauahi upon Ruth’s death in 1873. After the death of Pauahi in 1884, Pauahi’s inheritance was willed to S. Damon, a business partner of C. Bishop, the husband of Pauahi. Afterward, Damon became a trustee of Pauahi’s estate.
There are many stories in newspaper articles of 1920 concerning car accidents related to automobiles and motorcycles on Kapūkakī Road. Thus, due to the many accidents on that crooked and winding road, the Territorial Legislature appropriated $72,000 in 1923 to fix what became Moanalua Road. Kapīkakī is truly a storied place. All the stories are not told but it ends with a sprinkling of salt [a traditional story ending].