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Haleki'i and Pihana Heiau


Haleki'i and Pihana Heiau
Lyons Kapi'ioho Naone III

 Haleki'i and Pihana Heiau are the most accessible of the remaining pre-contact Hawaiian structures of religious and historical importance in the Wailuku-Kahului area. Located about 1/4 miles inland along the west side of Iao Stream, they overlook Iao Stream, Kahului Bay, Wailuku Plain and Paukukalo Hawaiian Homestead.

Traditional history credits the menehune with the construction of both heiau in a single night, using rock from Paukukalo Beach (Beckwith, 1907:333). Other accounts credit Kihapi'ilani with building Haleki'i, and Ki'ihewa with building Pihana during the time of Kaka'e, the ali'i of West Maui. Some say that they were built under the rule of Kahekili.

Haleki'i or "house of images" is thought to be a chiefly compound with thatched hale (houses) built atop the stone platform of the heiau and guarded by the ki'i (images) placed on the terraces around the sides of the platform. Also on the platform would have been family heiau for ceremonies to the family gods.

Pihana was the major heiau of the Wailuku area, historical references suggest, and it is reported to be a luakini, where human sacrifices were offered. The full name of Pihana is Pihanakalani or "gathering place of the ali'i". Others have recorded the name of the heiau as Pi'ihana.

The body of Kamehameha Nui, an uncle of Kamehameha I, who ruled Maui before his brother Kahekili succeeded him, was laid at Pihana before being taken to a final resting place on Molokai.

Kekaulike, father of Kahekili and Kamehameha Nui, died at Haleki'i in 1736 (Kamakau, 1961).

Kahekili, ruler of Maui, lived at Haleki'i around 1765. Kahekili's main residence at Wailuku was Kahalelani (now the site of Bailey House Museum), although he also had residences at Paukukalo and Pihana.

It is believed that in 1790 Kamehameha I invoked his war god at Pihana after his defeat of Kalanikupuli's forces in Iao Valley(serum 1909:46). After this battle, Kamehameha sent for the Maui chiefess Kalani-Kauko'oluaole, a daughter of Kamehameha Nui, whom he believed had insulted him at Kaupo. Poloahilani, foster-sister of Kalani-Kauko'oluaole, was sent instead and sacrificed by Karnehameha at Pihana. She was the last sacrifice at Pihana.

Born at Pihana was Keopuolani, a chiefess of divine rank and descendant of the ruling chiefs of Maui and Hawaii. She became the wife of Kamehameha I and mother of Liholiho (Kamehameha II) and Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III).

Pihana was demolished by Kalanimakamauali'i and Kauanaulu during Ka'ahumanu's proclamation in 1819 (Stokes, 1916)

The Wailuku area was a major gathering place and residential site of the Maui high chiefs and those of rank. The area from Waihe'e to Wailuku was the largest continuous area of wet taro cultivation in the Hawaiian Islands (Handy and Handy, 1972:496). To the southeast of Iao Stream, below Pihana Heiau, was Kauahea where warriors dwelt and were trained in war skills. This was a boxing site in the time of Kahekili.

Lyons Kapi'ioho Naone III
Mr. Naone is highly respected as a Hawaiian healing practitioner, teacher and founder of Kumu A'o.

Information was supplied in part by Kyle Nakanelua and the State of Hawaii, Dept. of Land & Natural Resources, Division of State Parks.