Keawenuiaumi comes to Molokai

Paka’a, part V of a continuing series

This rock out-cropping at the old Kolo wharf is a likely vantage point that Paka`a, and son Kuapaka’a, would have used to view Keawenuiaumi’s fleet as it approached Molokai.

In our last episode, Paka`a takes his son, Kuapaka`a, to the uplands located along the backbone of the mountain of Maunaloa. It is there that they begin to plant sweet potato in preparation for Keawenuiaumi’s arrival. Their field is a mile long and half a mile wide. The field is divided so that each of the district chiefs has a portion allotted to him. The shape of the fields is said to have been representative of those districts with markers sectioning them off.

In the meantime, Keawenuiaumi’s canoes and entourage are finally ready to set sail – so begins the search for Paka’a. He travels to Maui, lingering for a while before moving onto Molokai.

From his house, Paka`a can see the flotilla in the distant channel between Lanai and Maui. He devises a plan between himself and his son. They will pretend that Paka`a is an old deaf man fishing for uhu. In those days, the fisherman would always be bending over the water looking down with a line and hook to catch that kind of fish. With some salt encrusted in his hair, Paka`a looked the part when the two paddled their canoe out to intersect the ali`i’s fleet.

Kuapaka`a gets excited as the canoes approach. He keeps looking for Keawenuiaumi, but his father Paka`a informs him that the ali`i will be at the rear of the flotilla. However, as each district chief passes by, Paka`a whispers to his son to chant an insult directed at each leader. It is interesting that in the Moses Manu version of this account, the insults are part of a narrative and the responses are chanted. But in the Fornander account, the insults are chanted and the responses are narrated.

The scorn that Kuapaka`a heaps on each of the six district chiefs is basically that they are frauds. In other words they hold their high status based upon their appointment by Keawenuiaumi after he has conquered the Big Island, uniting it under one rule. They do not hold their position based their bloodlines and connection to the land but instead their ranks are rewards for their support. So to each he shouts, “you are not a real chief but instead an imposter”. And to make matters worse, he calls them eel catchers and shrimp scoopers belittling them all the more.

Finally, Keawenuiaumi arrives, and Paka`a’s half brother tells the ali`i to draw nearer to listen better to the keiki, Kuapaka`a. The keiki tries to entice the chief to land implying that perhaps he will find Paka`a. When that hint does not work, Kuapaka`a gives warning that there is a storm brewing the channel. He tells the ali’i to come ashore and avoid the storm. But Paka`a’s two enemies are also on board the chief’s canoe and they argue against landing. They taunt the boy back claiming there are no clouds in the sky.

Paka`a’s half-brother begins to recognize the boy’s chanting style as something familiar, realizing that only he and Paka`a know some of the chants. So he advises the chief that perhaps they should listen to the boy as someone from the island who might know more. However, the two enemies insist that the group continue on their journey.

Next time, Keawenuiaumi learns why he should have listened to the “keiki `o ka `aina”.


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