wahi pana

Kualoa, Island of O'ahu, Hawai'i by Chris Dacus

Wahi pana

Kualoa, Island od O’ahu, Hawai’i

In Hawaiian tradition, the lands of Kualoa were considered to be the symbol of sovereignty and independence for Oahu, and were closely protected by the Oahu chiefs and priests.

Kualoa has always been sacred soil (wahi pana), to which the newborn children of the chiefs were brought to live and be trained in warfare and the ancient traditions of the Hawaiian chiefs. Kamakau referred to Kualoa as being a very sacred place of refuge (puuhonua) in ancient times where people fled for protection if they had broken a tabu. Kualoa was also the place where sacrificial victims for religious rituals were drowned.

In ancient Hawaii, all canoes passing seaward of Kualoa lowered their sails in acknowledgement of the nature of Kualoa as a sacred residence of chiefs.
Kualoa is also significant in Hawaiian folklore and mythology. Apparently it was considered to be the sacred land of Haloa, the son of Wakea and Papa, the progenitors of the Hawaiian people. One of the most important chiefly genealogies links to Hawaiian cosmogony through Haloa and shows the importance of Haloa, and therefore, of Kualoa.
Kualoa figures in the famous legends of Pele, the Volcano Goddess and her sister, Hiiaka, as well as in the legends of Kamapua'a, the half-man, half-pig of Oahu. Here Pele's sister, Hiiaka, killed a huge mo'o, or dragon, and the small island, Mokoli'i, lying offshore^but part of Kualoa^is his tail. His body became the foothills below the steep Kualoa cliffs. Kamapua'a hid from Pele in a hollow at Kualoa, and later made the holes in the Kualoa mountains. A shark god story exists about the area at Kualoa Point where the son of the shark god was fed by the people of Kualoa until a stingy chief stopped the feeding and claimed the fish that were usually fed him. The shark god father of the starving son was enraged and created a tidal wave that killed the chief, but the people of Kualoa were saved.

In 1850, King Kamehameha III (Keaweaweʻula Kīwalaʻō Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa) sold approximately 622 acres of land at Kualoa to Dr. Gerritt P. Judd for $1,300. Dr. Judd had previously been a missionary doctor who arrived in Hawaiʻi in 1828 and who served as personal advisor to King Kamehameha III and translated medical journals into the Hawaiian language. Some believe the sale of Kualoa wuld lead to the end of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The kingdom was over thrown 43 years later on January 17, 1893.

Kualoa remains significant, even without physical remains of ancient sites, because of its central place in Oahu traditions and the feeling of the sacredness of the land, even by present day Hawaiians. The entire ahupua‘a of Kualoa was placed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1973; it is considered one of the two most sacred places on the island of O'ahu (along with Kūkaniloko).

The landscape always gives me chicken skin. This is truly a very special place. Lucky to live Hawai’i.

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