By: Rev. A. O. Forbes
On the northern side of the island of Molokai, commencing at the eastern end and stretching along a distance of about twenty miles, the coast is a sheer precipice of black rock varying in height from eight hundred to two thousand feet. The only interruptions to the continuity of this vast sea wall are formed by the four romantic valleys of Pelekunu, Puaahaunui, Wailau, and Waikolu. Between the valleys of Pelekunu and Waikolu, juts out the bold, sharp headland of Haupu, forming the dividing ridge between them, and reminding one somewhat of an axe-head turned edge upward. Directly in a line with this headland, thirty or forty rods out in the ocean, arise abruptly from the deep blue waters the rocks of Haupu, three or four sharp, needle-like points of rock varying from twenty to one hundred feet in height. This is the spot associated with the legend of Kapeepeekauila, and these rocks stand like grim sentinels on duty at the eastern limit of what is now known as the settlement of Kalawao. The legend runs as follows:
Keahole was the father, Hiiaka-noholae was the mother, and Kapeepeekauila was the son. This Kapeepeekauila was a hairy man, and dwelt on the ridge of Haupu.
Once on a time Hakalanileo and his wife Hina, the mother of Kana, came and dwelt in the valley of Pelekunu, on the eastern side of the ridge of Haupu.
Kapeepeekauila, hearing of the arrival of Hina, the beautiful daughter of Kalahiki, sent his children to fetch her. They went and said to Hina, Our royal father desires you as his wife, and we have come for you.
Desires me for what? said she.
Desires you for a wife, said they.
This announcement pleased the beautiful daughter of Kalahiki, and she replied, Return to your royal father and tell him he shall be the husband and I will be the wife.
When this message was delivered to Kapeepeekauila, he immediately sent a messenger to the other side of the island to summon all the people from Keonekuina to Kalamaula; for we have already seen that he was a hairy man, and it was necessary that this blemish should be removed. Accordingly, when the people had all arrived, Kapeepeekauila laid himself down and they fell to work until the hairs were all plucked out. He then took Hina to wife, and they two dwelt together on the top of Haupu.
Poor Hakalanileo, the husband of Hina, mourned the loss of his companion of the long nights of winter and the shower-sprinkled nights of summer. Neither could he regain possession of her, for the ridge of Haupu grew till it reached the heavens. He mourned and rolled himself in the dust in agony, and crossed his hands behind his back. He went from place to place in search of some powerful person who should be able to restore to him his wife. In his wanderings, the first person to whom he applied was Kamalalawalu, celebrated for strength and courage. This man, seeing his doleful plight, asked, Why these tears, O my father?
Hakalanileo replied, Thy mother is lost.
Lost to whom?
Lost to Kapeepee.
Kauila, the dauntless, of Haupu.
Then, O father, thou wilt not recover thy wife. Our stick may strike; it will but hit the dust at his feet. His stick, when it strikes back, will hit the head. Behold, measureless is the height of Haupu.
Now, this Kamalalawalu was celebrated for his strength in throwing stones. Of himself, one side was stone, and the other flesh. As a test he seized a large stone and threw it upwards. It rose till it hit the sky and then fell back to earth again. As it came down, he turned his stony side toward it, and the collision made his side rattle. Hakalanileo looked on and sadly said, Not strong enough.
On he went, beating his breast in his grief, till he came to the celebrated Niuloihiki. Question and answer passed between them, as in the former case, but Niuloihiki replied, It is hopeless; behold, measureless is the height of Haupu.
Again he prosecuted his search till he met the third man of fame, whose name was Kaulu. Question and answer passed, as before, and Kaulu, to show his strength, seized a river and held it fast in its course. But Hakalanileo mournfully said, Not strong enough.
Pursuing his way with streaming eyes, he came to the fourth hero, Lonokaeho by name. As in the former cases, so in this, he received no satisfaction. These four were all he knew of who were foremost in prowess, and all four had failed him. It was the end, and he turned sadly toward the mountain forest, to return to his home.
Meantime, the rumor had reached the ears of Niheu, surnamed the Rogue. Some one told him a father had passed along searching for some one able to recover him his wife.
Where is this father of mine? inquired Niheu.
He has gone inland, was the reply.
Ill overtake him; he wont escape me, said Niheu. So he went after the old man, kicking over the trees that came in his way. The old man had gone on till he was tired and faint, when Niheu overtook him and brought him back to his house. Then Niheu asked him, What made you go on without coming to the house of Niheu?
What, indeed, answered the old man; as though I were not seeking to recover thy mother, who is lost!
Then came question and answer, as in former cases, and Niheu said, I fear thou wilt not recover thy wife, O my father. But let us go inland to the foster son of Uli. So they went. But Niheu ran on ahead and told Kana, the foster son of Uli: Behold, here comes Hakalanileo, bereft of his wife. We are all beat.
Where is he? inquired Kana.
Here he is, just arrived.
Kana looked forth, and Hakalanileo recoiled with fear at the blazing of his eyes.
Then spoke Niheu: Why could you not wait before looking at our father? Behold, you have frightened him, and he has run back.
On this, Kana, remaining yet in the house, stretched forth his hand, and, grasping the old man in the distance, brought him back and sat him on his lap. Then Kana wept. And the impudent Niheu said, Now you are crying; look out for the old man, or he will get water-soaked.
But Kana ordered Niheu to bestir himself and light a fire, for the tears of Kana were as the big dropping rains of winter, soaking the plain. And Kana said to the old man, Now, dry yourself by the fire, and when you are warm, tell your story.
The old man obeyed, and when he was warm enough, told the story of his grief. Then said Kana, Almost spent are my years; I am only waiting for death, and behold I have at last found a foeman worthy of my prowess.
Kana immediately espoused the cause of Hakalanileo, and ordered his younger brother, Niheu, to construct a canoe for the voyage. Poor Niheu worked and toiled without success until, in despair, he exclaimed, upbraidingly, Thy work is not work; it is slavery. There thou dwellest at thy ease in thy retreat, while with thy foot thou destroyest my canoe.
Upon this, Kana pointed out to Niheu a bush, and said, Can you pull up that bush?
Yes, replied Niheu, for it was but a small bush, and he doubted not his ability to root it up; so he pulled and tugged away, but could not loosen it.
Kana looking on, said, tauntingly, Your foeman will not be overcome by you.
Then Kana stretched forth his hands, scratching among the forests, and soon had a canoe in one hand; a little more and another canoe appeared in the other hand. The twin canoes were named Kaumueli. He lifted them down to the shore, provided them with paddles, and then appointed fourteen rowers. Kana embarked with his magic rod called Waka-i-lani. Thus they set forth to wage war upon Kapeepeekauila. They went on until the canoes grounded on a hard ledge.
Niheu called out, Behold, thou sleepest, O Kana, while we all perish.
Kana replied, What is there to destroy us? Are not these the reefs of Haupu? Away with the ledges, the rock points, and the yawning chasms! Smite with Waka-i-lani, thy rod.
Niheu smote, the rocks crumbled to pieces, and the canoes were freed. They pursued their course again until Niheu, being on the watch, cried out, Why sleepest thou, O Kana? Here we perish, again. Thy like for sleeping I never saw!
Wherefore perish? said Kana.
Behold, replied Niheu, the fearful wall of water. If we attempt to pass it, it will topple over and destroy us all.
Then said Kana: Behold, behind us the reefs of Haupu. That is the destruction passed. As for the destruction before us, smite with thy rod.
Niheu smote, the wall of water divided, and the canoes passed safely through. Then they went on their course again, as before. After a time, Niheu again called out, Alas, again we perish. Here comes a great monster. If he falls upon us, we are all dead men.
And Kana said, Look sharp, now, and when the pointed snout crosses our bow, smite with thy rod.
And he did so, and behold, this great thing was a monster fish, and when brought on board it became food for them all. So wonderfully great was this fish that its weight brought the rim of the canoes down to the waters edge.
They continued on their way, and next saw the open mouth of the sharp-toothed sharkanother of the outer defences of Haupuawaiting them.
Smite with thy rod, ordered Kana.
Niheu smote, and the shark died.
Next they came upon the great turtle, another defence of Haupu. Again the sleepy Kana is aroused by the cry of the watchful Niheu, and the turtle is slain by the stroke of the magic rod. All this was during the night. At last, just as the edge of the morning lifted itself from the deep, their mast became entangled in the branches of the trees. Niheu flung upward a stone. It struck. The branches came rattling down, and the mast was free. On they went till the canoes gently stood still. On this, Niheu cried out, Here you are, asleep again, O Kana, and the canoes are aground!
Kana felt beneath; there was no ground. He felt above; the mast was entangled in weeds. He pulled, and the weeds and earth came down together. The smell of the fresh-torn weeds was wafted up to Hale-huki, the house where Kapeepeekauila lived. His people, on the top of Haupu, looked down on the canoes floating at the foot. Wondrous is the size of the canoes! they cried. Ah! it is a load of opihis (shell-fish) from Hawaii for Hina, for that was a favorite dish with her.
Meantime, Kana despatched Niheu after his mother. Go in friendly fashion, said the former.
Niheu leaped ashore, but slipped and fell on the smooth rocks. Back he went to the canoes.
What sort of a coming back is this? demanded Kana.
I slipped and fell, and just escaped with my life, answered Niheu.
Back with you! thundered Kana.
Again the luckless Niheu sprang ashore, but the long-eyed sand-crabs (ohiki-makaloa) made the sand fly with their scratching till his eyes were filled. Back to the canoes again he went. Got it all in my eyes! said he, and he washed them out with sea-water.
You fool! shouted Kana; what were you looking down for? The sand-crabs are not birds. If you had been looking up, as you ought, you would not have got the sand in your eyes. Go again!
This time he succeeded, and climbed to the top of Haupu. Arriving at the house, Hale-huki, where Hina dwelt, he entered at once. Being asked Why enterest thou this forbidden door? he replied:
Because I saw thee entering by this door. Hadst thou entered some other way, I should not have come in at the door. And behold, Kapeepeekauila and Hina sat before him. Then Niheu seized the hand of Hina and said, Let us two go. And she arose and went.
When they had gone about half-way to the brink of the precipice, Kapeepeekauila exclaimed, What is this? Is the woman gone?
Mo-i, the sister of Kana, answered and said, If you wish the woman, now is the time; you and I fight.
Great was the love of Kapeepeekauila for Hina, and he said, No war dare touch Haupu; behold, it is a hill, growing even to the heavens. And he sent the kolea (plover) squad to desecrate the sacred locks of Niheu; for the locks of Niheu were kapu, and if they should be touched, he would relinquish Hina for very shame. So the kolea company sailed along in the air till they brushed against the sacred locks of Niheu, and for very shame he let go his mother and struck at the koleas with his rod and hit their tail feathers and knocked them all out, so that they remain tailless to this day. And he returned to the edge of the shore, while the koleas bore off Hina in triumph.
When Niheu reached the shore, he beat his forehead with stones till the blood flowed; a trick which Kana perceived from on board the canoes. And when Niheu went on board he said, See! we fought and I got my head hurt.
But Kana replied, There was no fight; you did it yourself, out of shame at your defeat.
And Niheu replied, What, then, shall we fight?
Yes, said Kana, and he stood up.
Now, one of his legs was named Keauea and the other Kaipanea, and as he stood upon the canoes, he began to lengthen himself upward until the dwellers on top of Haupu exclaimed in terror, We are all dead men! Behold, here is a great giant towering above us.
And Kapeepeekauila, seeing this, hastened to prune the branches of the kamani tree (Calophyllum inophyllum), so that the bluff should grow upward. And the bluff rose, and Kana grew. Thus they strove, the bluff rising higher and Kana growing taller, until he became as the stalk of a banana leaf, and gradually spun himself out till he was no thicker than a strand of a spiders web, and at last he yielded the victory to Kapeepeekauila.
Niheu, seeing the defeat of Kana, called out, Lay yourself along to Kona, on Hawaii, to your grandmother, Uli.
And he laid himself along with his body in Kona, while his feet rested on Molokai. His grandmother in Kona fed him until he became plump and fat again. Meanwhile, poor Niheu, watching at his feet on Molokai, saw their sides fill out with flesh while he was almost starved with hunger. So, then, quoth he, you are eating and growing fat while I die with hunger. And he cut off one of Kanas feet for revenge.
The sensation crept along up to his body, which lay in Kona, and Kana said to his grandmother, Uli, I seem to feel a numbness creeping over me.
And she answered, and said, Thy younger brother is hungry with watching, and seeing thy feet grow plump, he has cut off one of them; therefore this numbness.
Kana, having at last grown strong and fat, prepared to wage war again upon Kapeepeekauila. Food was collected in abundance from Waipio, and when it was prepared, they embarked again in their canoes and came back to Haupu, on Molokai. But his grandmother, Uli, had previously instructed him to first destroy all the branches of the kamani tree of Haupu. Then he showed himself, and began again to stretch upward and tower above the bluff. Kapeepeekauila hastened again to trim the branches of the kamani, that the bluff might grow as before; but behold, they were all gone! It was the end; Kapeepeekauila was at last vanquished. The victorious Kana recovered his sister, Mo-i, restored to poor Hakalanileo his wife, Hina, and then, tearing down the bluff of Haupu, kicked off large portions of it into the sea, where they stand to this day, and are called The Rocks of Kana.