Lānaʻi of Kāneʻāpua

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Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

“Lānaʻi of Kaululāʻau” is a famous saying of Lānaʻi. This columnist previously wrote about this story telling of the time Kaululāʻau killed all of the ghosts of that land. But what of this saying, “Lānaʻi of Kaululāʻau.”

Let us examine, o reader, the “History of Kamehameha I” as recorded by S.M. Kamakau:

According to the story of this Kaneapua, he was from Kahiki and he came with his older siblings and, having no water [to make ʻawa for drinking], they sent Kaneapua to climb upland of Miki, a place in the mountainous part of Lanai, however, these older siblings of Kaneapua desired the rich lands of Kaneapua, namely the land of Kahalapiko, therefore they left Kaneapua on Lanaʻi where he mated with the women there and became the ancestor of those people (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 5 Jan. 1867, p. 1).

If so, Kāneʻāpua is the ancestor of some of the descendants of Lānaʻi, thus the saying, “Lānaʻi of Kāneʻāpua.” As the story continued, Kāneʻāpua returned to Kahiki and left his descendants on Lānaʻi. He returned with Wahanui, a chief of Oʻahu according to Kamakau.

Here is yet another version. It was written in “Hoʻomana Kahiko” (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 12 Jan. 1865, p. 1), that he came from the Pillars of Kahiki with his older siblings Kāne and Kanaloa. They were worshipped by the people because they traveled around Hawaiʻi to waterless places. There, Kāne would thrust his staff [into the ground] and water would gush forth and thus were named the waters of Kāne and Kanaloa. Their deeds are famous on the different islands such as their water-producing work at Kapunahou at Mānoa or the cracking of stones to allow water to gush forth as on Maui at Waiheʻe and Kahakuloa, on Lānaʻi at Waiakāne, on Molokaʻi at Punakou, and on Oʻahu at Kawaihoa (at Maunalua, Koko Head).

When they were ready to return to Lauʻenaakāne, their homeland in Kahiki, they stayed on Lānaʻi. Like what was written in Kamakau’s story, Kāneʻāpua was sent to the uplands of Miki to fetch water for ‘awa drinking. However, he did not write about the reason that Kāneʻāpua was left on Lānaʻi.

According to Fornander, Kāneʻāpua urinated near the spring and it seeped into the water. When Kāne and Kanaloa drank they tasted urine and left angrily. Therefore, Kāneʻāpua was left at Kaunolū, Lānaʻi. A cape there is named Kāneʻāpua. There at the cape is a large stone that was named Kāneʻāpua Rock by Lānaʻi’s people.

It was on this rock cliff that Kāneʻāpua looked out for a canoe to take him back to the Pillars of Kahki. And just as in Kamakau’s history, upon the passing by of the canoe of Kānewahanui (Wahanui) from Hawaiʻi to fulfill his desire to tread upon the chests of Kāne and Kanaloa, he called to the chief to allow him to travel with them.

Their conversation was interesting. Kāneʻāpua called, “Where is your canoe going?” To which Kānewahanui answered, “The canoe [speaking of himself] seeks to tread upon the chests of Kāne and Kanaloa.” Then Kāneʻāpua exclaimed, “Really! The chests of gods be trodden upon by men. How can mere men do so let alone myself (as he was a god himself).” After that exchange, Kānewahanui assented and Kāneʻāpua returned to Kahiki. The cape from which Kāneʻāpua spotted Kānewahananui is there still.

Aloha to the offspring of Lānaʻi, the children of Kāneʻāpua of Lauʻenaakāne at the Pillars of Kahiki, the issue of the grandchild of Honunuikuaʻeaʻea. May the descendants of Lānaʻi of Kāneʻāpua thrive.