Kamehameha the Great.
In ancient Hawaii, legends told of a day when a great king would unite all the Hawaiian islands. The sign of his birth, kahuna (priests) claimed, would be a comet. Birth of a King.
And so it goes that Kamehameha was born in 1758, the year Halley’s Comet made an appearance over Hawaiian skies. Kamehameha was born in Paiea on the Big Island of Hawaii. His father was said to be Keoua, a grandson of Keaweikekahialiiokamoku, who once ruled a large portion of the island. Translated, Kamehameha means “the lonely one.”....
Another legend tells of a kahuna who prophesized that the man who moved the 7,000-pound Naha Stone would become the greatest king of Hawaii. When Kamehameha was 14, the story goes, he moved the massive rock, and then lifted it and turned it completely over.
Note: You didnt want to drop in on a King.
Several of Hawaii's most famous chiefs, including Kaumuali'i, the ruling chief of Kaua'i and Kamehameha I, were renowned for their surfing ability. Ali'i could prove their prowess by showing courage and skill in big waves, and woe betide the commoner who crossed into surf zones reserved for the ali'i. On the south shore of Oahu, at Waikiki, the surf spot now known as Outside Castles was called Kalehuaweke by the Hawaiians to commemorate an incident in which a commoner dropped into the same wave as a Hawaiian chiefess, which was a major taboo. To save his own skin, he offered her his lehuawreath to placate her.
By the time Captain Cook and his ships reached the Hawaiian Islands in 1778, the art, sport and religion of surfing had reached a sophisticated peak. But what Cook and Lieutenant King described in Tahiti and Hawai'i was the zenith of the sport in Old Polynesia, because in the wake of the Resolution and the Discovery, Hawai'i and Hawaiian surfing fell into decline for more than 150 years. European contact was not good for Hawai'i. After the publication of Cook's and King's journals, Hawai'i became the central Pacific destination of choice for captains, brigands, adventurers, missionaries and other opportunists. The haole brought new technologies, languages and Gods, along with vices and diseases that ravaged a society that had evolved over more than a millennium.
Rise to Power
Kamehameha grew up in the court of his uncle, Kalaniopuu. When Kalaniopuu died in 1782, his power was divided between Kamehameha and Kalaniopuu’s natural son, Kiwalao, who inherited his father’s throne. Civil war broke out, however, and Kamehameha emerged as the Big Island’s ruler.
Many more battles ensued. During one raid in Puna, Kamehameha slipped and caught his foot in a crevice of lava. Seeing this, one of his fleeing opponents returned and beat him on the head with a canoe paddle until it broke. As a result, Kamehameha proclaimed Mamalahoe Kanawai, or “Law of the Splintered Paddle,” providing protection to unarmed noncombatants in war. “Let the aged, men and women, and little children, lie down safely in the road,” his law decreed.
Uniting the Hawaiian Islands
Having gained control of his home island, Kamehameha turned to the other Hawaiian islands. Using weaponry purchased from American and European traders, the king conquered Maui and Molokai, then turned his attention to Oahu. In 1795, Kamehameha invaded the shores of Waikiki beach and led his army to Nuuanu, where a bloody battle with Oahu chief Kalanikupule ensued. Hundreds of Oahu’s warriors were killed, driven over the valley’s Pali cliffs.
In 1810, Kaumualii, the king of Kauai, peacefully surrendered his island to Kamehameha to avoid further bloodshed. With that, Kamehameha fulfilled his destiny of uniting all the Hawaiian islands under one rule.
The Hawaiian kingdom enjoyed a period of peace during Kamehameha’s reign. The king unified the legal system and used taxes to promote trade with the Americans and Europeans.
Kamehameha died in 1819, and his son, Liholiho, took the throne. Kamehameha’s bones were hidden by his kahuna. Today, his final resting place remains a mystery.
Born at Kokoiki in North Kohala on the island of Hawai`i, Kamehameha descended from chiefs of Hawai`i and Maui. As a young man, he distinguished himself as a talented warrior and served his uncle Kalaniopu`u, ruler of several districts on the island. As part of Kalaniopu`u's retinue, Kamehameha met Captain Cook on Maui and was wounded in the scuffle that resulted in Cook's death at Kealakekua Bay. A keen battle strategist and admirer of Western weaponry, Kamehameha later utilized guns and cannon to defeat his own enemies and consolidate his power in the Islands.
Following the death of Kalaniopu`u in 1782, civil war broke out over control of the districts and resources of Hawai`i island. Bequeathed Kalaniopu`u's war god, Kukailimoku, Kamehameha was spiritually favored and eventually vanquished his primary rival and cousin Keoua at Pu`ukohola, the large temple Kamehameha built to secure victory. By 1795, Kamehameha had reconquered Maui, Lana`i, Kaho`olawe and Moloka`i and acquired control of O`ahu at the Battle of Nu`uanu. Kaua`i and Ni`ihau, under the leadership of Kaumuali`i, submitted to Kamehameha's rule by truce in 1810.
Throughout his reign, Kamehameha upheld the tenets of traditional religion in the face of new cultural influences. Although he cultivated friendships and alliances with Westerners who could help maintain his status - like John Young and Isaac Davis who shared their weapons expertise - he tightly controlled Western business and political contacts with Hawaiians. Kamehameha and his chiefs supplied visiting ships with provisions during the fur trade and cut cargo-holds of sandalwood to pay for Western goods.
Of Kamehameha's several wives, the most sacred was Keopuolani. Of higher rank than Kamehameha, her sons and grandsons continued the Kamehameha ruling line. Kamehameha's favorite wife, Ka`ahumanu, was the daughter of Ke`eaumoku, one of Kamehameha's war generals from Kona. Ka`ahumanu inherited the advisory role of her father after his death and became a powerful player in Kamehameha's court and those of his successors.
Mamala Hoe (Law of the Splintered Paddle)
During a raid on Puna, Kamehameha pursued several fishermen and his foot got stuck in a rock crevice. Realizing the chief's disadvantage, one of the fisherman struck him on the head with a paddle which splintered. As the first fisherman prepared to strike Kamehameha again, the other fisherman made a plea to his companion to spare Kamehameha. Deeply moved by this incident, Kamehameha later proclaimed a law to protect the defenseless and to ensure the safety of travelers. A version of the law was incorporated into the state constitution in 1978.