The Maps of Henry Kekahuna

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Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

If you visit Kahaluʻu, Kona, on the verdant Hawaiʻi Island, you will see a spectacular sight, namely the restoration of two sacred sites – the heiau of Hāpaialiʻi and Keʻekū. Much appreciation to The Kamehameha Schools for that work. Thanks also to Henry Kekahuna for the maps that he sketched in the 1950s.

Henry Enoka Palenapa Kekahuna was a native of Hāna and a descendant of kāhuna and aliʻi of that land. He worked with Kenneth Emory of the Bishop Museum and his maps of Hawaiʻi Island and Kauaʻi are in the archives. He was also the archivist at the State of Hawaiʻi Archives and his writings can be found there.

Kekahuna had a great desire to document the history and stories of the land lest they be lost so he set about interviewing elders.

Kiʻi 3
Kiʻi 3: Kekahi mahele o ka palapala ʻāina o Kahalu’u, Kona e hōʻike ana iā Keʻekū. Na Henry E. P. Kekahuna. – Photos: Courtesy

At Kahaluʻu, Kona, he met with a family elder by the name of Nāluahine Kaʻōpua and it was this precious elder who showed Kekahuna heiau, house sites and various places in Kahaluʻu, Keauhou and all of Kona. Kekahuna’s map shows that Kaʻōpua lived on the Keauhou side of Keʻekū on the sands of Mākoleʻā. It was this precious elder that told Kekahuna about the Hawaiian martial arts profession of his grandfather. It was this martial arts master who taught hula by day and kuʻialua (Hawaiian martial art) by night, and it was Naluahine’s job to bring the kukui candles into the lodge at ‘Umihale (the enclosure of Lonoikamakahiki).

Kekahuna paid great attention to the detailed work of an archaeologist – the measurements of walls, floors, height, width, etc. As a historian, he wrote down the accounts and stories as passed down by storytellers such as Kaʻōpua of Kona.

Look at Figure 3 for two crossed circles on the sea side of Keʻekū. They are rocks – Kauakahiokaoka (the white one) and Kapapako (the black one) who were favorite pet dogs of Kamalālāwalu who died along with him after his being sacrificed by Lonoikamakahiki upon Keʻekū after their war. It is only on Kekahuna’s maps that this story is found. Therefore, if Henry Kekahuna did not search for the history of Keʻekū and Hāpaialiʻi and if he didnʻt map them then we would not, perhaps, have the knowledge and desire to restore these wondrous places of Kona.