Traditional Account of an Ancient Hawaiian Prophecy
Translated from Moke Manu by Thos. G. Thrum
It is stated in the history of Kaopulupulu that he was famed among the kahunas of the island of Oahu for his power and wisdom in the exercise of his profession, and was known throughout the land as a leader among the priests. His place of residence was at Waimea, between Koolauloa and Waialua, Oahu. There he married, and there was born to him a son whom he named Kahulupue, and whom he instructed during his youth in all priestly vocations.
In after years when Kumahana, brother of Kahahana of Maui, became the governing chief (alii aimoku) of Oahu, Kahulupue was chosen by him as his priest. This chief did evil unto his subjects, seizing their property and beheading and maiming many with the leiomano (sharks tooth weapon) and pahoa (dagger), without provocation, so that he became a reproach to his people. From such treatment Kahulupue endeavored to dissuade him, assuring him that such a course would fail to win their support and obedience, whereas the supplying of food and fish, with covering for the body, and malos, would insure their affectionate regard. The day of the people was near, for the time of conflict was approaching when he would meet the enemy. But these counsels of Kahulupue were disregarded, so he returned to his father at Waimea.
Not long thereafter this chief Kumahana was cast out and rejected by the lesser chiefs and people, and under cover of night he escaped by canoe to Molokai, where he was ignored and became lost to further history in consequence of his wrong-doings.
When Kahekili, King of Maui, heard of the stealthy flight of the governing chief of Oahu, he placed the young prince Kahahana, his foster-son, as ruler over Oahu in the place of his deposed relative, Kumahana. This occurred about the year 1773, and Kahahana took with him as his intimate friend and companion one Alapai. Kahahana chose as his place of residence the shade of the kou and cocoanut trees of Ulukou, Waikiki, where also gathered together the chiefs of the island to discuss and consider questions of state.
The new ruler being of fine and stalwart form and handsome appearance, the chiefs and common people maintained that his fame in this respect induced a celebrated chieftainess of Kauai, named Kekuapoi, to voyage hither. Her history, it is said, showed that she alone excelled in maiden charm and beauty; she was handsome beyond all other chieftainesses from Hawaii to Kauai, as the third brightness of the sun (he ekolu ula o ka la). In consequence, Kahahana took her as his wife, she being own sister to Kekuamanoha.
At this time the thought occurred to the King to inquire through the chiefs of Oahu of the whereabouts of Kaopulupulu, the celebrated priest, of whom he had heard through Kahekili, King of Maui. In reply to this inquiry of Kahahana, the chiefs told him that his place of residence was at Waimea, whereupon a messenger was sent to bid him come up by order of the King. When the messenger reached Kaopulupulu he delivered the royal order. Upon the priest hearing this word of the King he assented thereto, with this reply to the messenger: You return first and tell him that on the morning after the fourteenth night of the moon (po o akua), I will reach the place of the King.
At the end of the conference the messenger returned and stood before Kahahana and revealed the words of Kaopulupulu; and the King waited for the time of his arrival.
It is true, Kaopulupulu made careful preparation for his future. Toward the time of his departure he was engaged in considering the good or evil of his approaching journey by the casting of lots, according to the rites of his profession. He foresaw thereby the purpose of the King in summoning him to dwell at court. He therefore admonished his son to attend to all the rites and duties of the priesthood as he had been taught, and to care for his mother and relatives.
At early dawn Kaopulupulu arose and partook of food till satisfied, after which he prepared himself for the journey before him. After he had given his farewell greetings to his household he seized his bundle and, taking a cocoanut fan in his hand, set out toward Punanue, where was a temple (heiau) for priests only, called Kahokuwelowelo. This was crown land at Waialua in ancient times. Entering the temple he prayed for success in his journey, after which he proceeded along the plains of Lauhulu till reaching the Anahulu stream, thence by Kemoo to Kukaniloko, the shelter of whose prominent rock the chieftainesses of Oahu were wont to choose for their place of confinement.
Leaving this place he came to Kalakoa, where Kekiopilo the prophet priest lived and died, and the scene of his vision at high noon when he prophesied of the coming of foreigners with a strange language. Here he stopped and rested with some of the people, and ate food with them, after which he journeyed on by way of Waipio by the ancient path of that time till he passed Ewa and reached Kapukaki.
The sun was well up when he reached the water of Lapakea, so he hastened his steps in ascending Kauwalua, at Moanalua, and paused not till he came to the mouth of the Apuakehau stream at Waikiki. Proceeding along the sand at this place he was discerned by the retainers of the King and greeted with the shout, Here comes the priest Kaopulupulu.
When the King heard this he was exceedingly pleased (pihoihoi loa) at the time, and on the priests meeting with King Kahahana he welcomed Kaopulupulu with loud rejoicing.
Without delay the King set apart a house wherein to meet and discuss with the priest those things he had in mind, and in the consideration of questions from first to last, Kaopulupulu replied with great wisdom in accordance with his knowledge of his profession. At this time of their conference he sat within the doorway of the house, and the sun was near its setting. As he turned to observe this he gazed out into the sky and noticing the gathering short clouds (ao poko) in the heavens, he exclaimed:
O heaven, the road is broad for the King, it is full of chiefs and people; narrow is my path, that of the kahuna; you will not be able to find it, O King. Even now the short clouds reveal to me the manner of your reign; it will not be many days. Should you heed my words, O King, you will live to gray hair. But you will be the king to slay me and my child.
At these words of the priest the King meditated seriously for some time, then spoke as follows: Why should my days be short, and why should your death be by me, the King?
Kaopulupulu replied: O King, let us look into the future. Should you die, O King, the lands will be desolate; but for me, the kahuna, the name will live on from one generation to another; but my death will be before thine, and when I am up on the heaven-feared altar then my words will gnaw thee, O King, and the rains and the sun will bear witness.
These courageous words of Kaopulupulu, spoken in the presence of Kahahana without fear, and regardless of the dignity and majesty of the King, were uttered because of the certainty that the time would come when his words would be carried into effect. The King remained quiet without saying a word, keeping his thoughts to himself.
After this conference the King took Kaopulupulu to be his priest, and in course of time he became also an intimate companion, in constant attendance upon the King, and counselled him in the care of his subjects, old and young, in all that pertained to their welfare. The King regarded his words, and in their circuit of the island together they found the people contented and holding their ruler in high esteem. But at the end of three years the King attempted some wrong to certain of his subjects like unto that of his deposed predecessor. The priest remonstrated with him continually, but he would not regard his counsel; therefore, Kaopulupulu left King Kahahana and returned to his land at Waimea and at once tattooed his knees. This was done as a sign that the King had turned a deaf ear to his admonitions.
When several days had passed, rumors among certain people of Waialua reached the priest that he was to be summoned to appear before the King in consequence of this act, which had greatly angered his august lord. Kahahana had gone to reside at Waianae, and from there shortly afterward he sent messengers to fetch Kaopulupulu and his son Kahulupue from Waimea.
In the early morning of the day of the messengers arrival, a rainbow stood directly in the doorway of Kaopulupulus house, and he asked of his god its meaning; but his prayer was broken (ua haki ka pule). This boded him ill; therefore he called to his son to stand in prayer; but the result was the same. Then he said, This augurs of the day of death; see! the rising up of a man in the pass of Hapuu, putting on his kapa with its knot fastening on the left side of the neck, which means that he is bringing a death message.
Shortly after the priest had ended these words a man was indeed seen approaching along the mountain pass, with his kapa as indicated; and he came and stood before the door of their house and delivered the order of the King for them to go to Waianae, both him and his son.
The priest replied: Return you first; we will follow later, and the messenger obeyed. When he had departed Kaopulupulu recalled to his son the words he had spoken before the advent of the messenger, and said: Oh, where are you, my child? Go clothe the body; put on the malo; eat of the food till satisfied, and we will go as commanded by the King; but this journey will result in placing us on the altar (kau i ka lele). Fear not death. The name of an idler, if he be beaten to death, is not passed on to distinction.
At the end of these words of his father, Kahulupue wept for love of his relatives, though his father bid him to weep not for his family, because he, Kaopulupulu, saw the end that would befall the King, Kahahana, and his court of chiefs and retainers. Even at this time the voices of distress were heard among his family and their tears flowed, but Kaopulupulu looked on unmoved by their cries.
He then arose and, with his son, gave farewell greetings to their household, and set forth. In journeying they passed through Waialua, resting in the house of a kamaaina at Kawaihapai. In passing the night at this place Kahulupue slept not, but went out to examine the fishing canoes of that neighborhood. Finding a large one suitable for a voyage, he returned and awoke his father, that they might flee together that night to Kauai and dwell on the knoll of Kalalea. But Kaopulupulu declined the idea of flight. In the morning, ascending a hill, they turned and looked back over the sea-spray of Waialua to the swimming halas of Kahuku beyond. Love for the place of his birth so overcame Kaopulupulu for a time that his tears flowed for that he should see it no more.
Then they proceeded on their way till, passing Kaena Point, they reached the temple of Puaakanoe. At this sacred boundary Kaopulupulu said to his son, Let us swim in the sea and touch along the coast of Makua. At one of their resting-places, journeying thus, he said, with direct truthfulness, as his words proved: Where are you, my son? For this drenching of the high priests by the sea, seized will be the sacred lands (moo-kapu) from Waianae to Kualoa by the chief from the east.
As they were talking they beheld the Kings men approaching along the sand of Makua, and shortly afterward these men came before them and seized them and tied their hands behind their backs and took them to the place of King Kahahana at Puukea, Waianae, and put them, father and son, in a new grass hut unfinished of its ridge thatch, and tied them, the one to the end post (pouhana) and the other to the corner post (poumanu) of the house.
At the time of the imprisonment of the priest and his son in this new house Kaopulupulu spake aloud, without fear of dire consequences, so that the King and all his men heard him, as follows: Here I am with my son in this new unfinished house; so will be unfinished the reign of the King that slays us. At this saying Kahahana, the King, was very angry.
Throughout that day and the night following, till the sun was high with warmth, the King was directing his soldiers to seize Kahulupue first and put him to death. Obeying the orders of the King, they took Kahulupue just outside of the house and stabbed at his eyes with laumake spears and stoned him with stones before the eyes of his father, with merciless cruelty. These things, though done by the soldiers, were dodged by Kahulupue, and the priest, seeing the King had no thought of regard for his child, spoke up with priestly authority, as follows: Be strong of breath, my son, till the body touch the water, for the land indeed is the seas.
When Kahulupue heard the voice of his father telling him to flee to the sea, he turned toward the shore in obedience to these last words to him, because of the attack by the soldiers of the King. As he ran, he was struck in the back by a spear, but he persevered and leaped into the sea at Malae and was drowned, his blood discoloring the water. His dead body was taken and placed up in the temple at Puehuehu. After the kapu days therefore the King, with his chiefs and soldiers, moved to Puuloa, Ewa, bringing with them the priest Kaopulupulu, and after some days he was brought before the King by the soldiers, and without groans for his injuries was slain in the Kings presence. But he spoke fearlessly of the vengeance that would fall upon the King in consequence of his death, and during their murderous attack upon him proclaimed with his dying breath: You, O King, that kill me here at Puuloa, the time is near when a direct death will be yours. Above here in this land, and the spot where my lifeless body will be borne and placed high on the altar for my flesh to decay and slip to the earth, shall be the burial place of chiefs and people hereafter, and it shall be called the royal sand of the mistaken; there will you be placed in the temple. At the end of these words of Kaopulupulu his spirit took flight, and his body was left for mockery and abuse, as had been that of his son in the sea of Malae, at Waianae.
After a while the body of the priest was placed on a double canoe and brought to Waikiki and placed high in the cocoanut trees at Kukaeunahi, the place of the temple, for several ten-day periods (he mau anahulu) without decomposition and falling off of the flesh to the sands of Waikiki.
When King Kahekili of Maui heard of the death of the priest Kaopulupulu by Kahahana, he sent some of his men thither by canoe, who landed at Waimanalo, Koolau, where, as spies, they learned from the people respecting Kaopulupulu and his death, with that of his son; therefore they returned and told the King the truth of these reports, at which the affection of Kahekili welled up for the dead priest, and he condemned the King he had established. Coming with an army from Maui, he landed at Waikiki without meeting Kahahana, and took back the government of Oahu under his own kingship. The chiefs and people of Oahu all joined under Kahekili, for Kahahana had been a chief of wrong-doing. This was the first sea of Kaopulupulu in accordance with his prophetic utterance to his son, This land is the seas.
Upon the arrival here at Oahu of Kahekili, Kahahana fled, with his wife Kekuapoi, and friend Alapai, and hid in the shrubbery of the hills. They went to Aliomanu, Moanalua, to a place called Kinimakalehua; then moved along to Keanapuaa and Kepookala, at the lochs of Puuloa, and from there to upper Waipoi; thence to Wahiawa, Helemano, and on to Lihue; thence they came to Poohilo, at Honouliuli, where they first showed themselves to the people and submitted themselves to their care.
While they were living there, report thereof was made to Kahekili, the King, who thereupon sent Kekuamanoha, elder brother of Kekuapoi, the wife of Kahahana, with men in double canoes from Waikiki, landing first at Kupahu, Hanapouli, Waipio, with instructions to capture and put to death Kahahana, as also his friend Alapai, but to save alive Kekuapoi. When the canoes touched at Hanapouli, they proceeded thence to Waikele and Hoaeae, and from there to Poohilo, Honouliuli, where they met in conference with Kahahana and his party. At the close of the day Kekuamanoha sought by enticing words to induce his brother-in-law to go up with him and see the father King and be assured of no death condemnation, and by skilled flattery he induced Kahahana to consent to his proposition; whereupon preparation was made for the return. On the following morning, coming along and reaching the plains of Hoaeae, they fell upon and slew Kahahana and Alapai there, and bore their lifeless bodies to Halaulani, Waipio, where they were placed in the canoes and brought up to Waikiki and placed up in the cocoanut trees by King Kahekili and his priests from Maui, as Kaopulupulu had been. Thus was fulfilled the famous saying of the Oahu priest in all its truthfulness.
According to the writings of S. M. Kamakau and David Malo, recognized authorities, the thought of Kaopulupulu as expressed to his son Kahulupue, This land is the seas, was in keeping with the famous prophetic vision of Kekiopilo that the foreigners possess the land, as the people of Hawaii now realize. The weighty thought of this narration and the application of the saying of Kaopulupulu to this time of enlightenment are frequent with certain leaders of thought among the people, as shown in their papers.