By Kamealoha Forrest
Aloha to my fellow readers who cherish this carrier of knowledge.
I bring before the masses of fellow readers certain oral histories I have heard, or was taught, from the time I was a child up until now, pertaining to my beloved home of Haleleʻa. Since we have all been confined to our homes due to the increased intensity of the pandemic, I thought it a good idea to release this article as a little “snack” to delight the readership while we physically distance. These histories will perhaps inspire a metaphysical tour through imagination to my island of the snatching sun, similar to that of The Woman of the Pit.
On Kauaʻi there are left many startling remnants of the amazing works of the Menehune people of old, as storied and greatly visited places. Because Kauaʻi is known as the place where this extraordinary race dwelled, in certain places of Haleleʻa, which is known as Hanalei now, there exist many of these places as well as their companion stories.
The Menehune people had two favorite pastimes, one was to build, the other was lele kawa or pebble diving. There are many rocky ocean points that are named after these pastimes of the Menehune, I, however, am not the person to reveal those stories, that is the responsibility of those of those areas. With that I present those famous places of my area, while leaving the rest to my fellow Kauaʻi of the other moku to decide what to share.
Makaihuwaʻa or Kamakaihuwaʻa, which is a hill that lies between Waiʻoli and Waipā, is one of these famous places. One story that was shared by the historian Frederick B. Wichman, stated that this was the first lighthouse of Kauaʻi which the Menehune built. The ancients, as well as paddlers in present times, still use this hill as the marker to safely bring in canoes through the proper channel to the shores of Mahamoku. This hill was built by the Menehune to ensure that their names would live on.
Kealahula is a beach and cliffside that is in the ahupuaʻa of Lumahaʻi. It is located on the path called Kalanikahua, below the place known as Kahalahala and before the hill Puʻuhinahina. It is from Kealahula that the rocks and pebbles were moved to build up Kamakaihuwaʻa. It is because of the Menehune’s moving of these rocks from this area that a path was formed from the frequency and amount of Menehune walking back and forth that this place was named Kealahula. During calm days and the summer months, this area is one of the paths to get to the beach of Hoʻohila in Lumahaʻi.
Kaʻalele is a place and the name of a rock that was brought down from Wainiha, and carried to the rocky ocean cliff point of Lumahaʻi as a jumping off point for lele kawa. After this rock was set up, the Menehune commenced their enjoyment of their favorite pastime of lele kawa. However, when one of the Menehune named Kaʻalele jumped into the ocean, the ocean became agitated and the water rose up like a mountain due to the movement of an ulua in the water. As this ulua was thrashing about, the body of the Menehune was injured and he nearly died, the ulua continued to attack but in the end it was the Menehune who was victorious. The ulua was dragged up to shore until this enemy of the deep died. It is because of this amazing feat that this place is named for the Menehune Kaʻalele who killed the ulua. There, at the point of Lumahaʻi, below the groves of Mapuana and after the hau lowlands of Maihilaukoa, is the point of Kaʻalele.
All the famed places and beloved areas of my homeland have not been presented here. I leave that for another time, or perhaps for someone else to add to what I have already presented, perhaps with more skillful and beautiful language than I have here. That is all from this Unukupua wind.
Kamealoha Forrest is a bright and skillful kumu hula and haku mele from Hāʻena Kauaʻi. He is a beloved descendant of the the Mahuiki and Chandler ʻohana, and is a strong advocate for the revitalization of the Hawaiian language and culture.