Hello Friends and Family,

1985 - The Big Island, Part 1

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

1985 was the year when I moved to Maui — it was my dream and I had to do it. During my residence there, my parents came to visit for a week or so. Although their trip was short, we decided to fit in as much as we could. First on the itinerary, was a trip over to the Big Island.

After landing, we checked into our rooms at the King Kamehameha Hotel in Kona. Just offshore from the hotel grounds stands the Ahuena Heiau, the religious temple that served Kamehameha the Great when he returned to the Big Island in 1812.

This was the center of political power in the Hawaiian kingdom during Kamehameha's golden years, and his biggest advisors gathered at the heiau each night. Three momentous events occurred here which established Ahu'ena Heiau as the most historically significant site in Hawaii:

  • In the early morning hours of May 8, 1819, King Kamehameha I died here.
  • A few months after the death of his father, in a time of political consternation and threat of civil war Liholiho (Kamehameha II) broke the ancient kapu system, the highly defined regime of taboos that provided the framework of the traditional Hawaiian government.
  • The first Christian missionaries from New England were granted permission to come ashore here on April 4, 1820.

Beginning in the mid-1970s, a community-based committee was formed to permanently guide the restoration and management of this national treasure. Even today, the public is not allowed on the heiau — only approved visitors and usually as part of a religious/historical event.

Religion has played an important role in the history of the Hawaiian Islands. When Christian missionaries arrived on the islands, they brought with them their belief system and their church. From small rural chapels to huge cathedrals located in the heart of Hawaii’s capital, you’ll find countless beautiful churches across the Hawaiian Islands, but there is no church as spectacular as the one we’re sharing with you today. Dating back to the early 1800s, Mokuaikaua Church is the island chain’s oldest Christian church.

The original structure was made from Ohia wood and featured a thatched roof on land obtained from the Royal Governor Kuakini across the street from his Hulihe’e Palace. After a series of fires damaged the church, the present stone structure was constructed in the mid-1830s — partially from stones recycled from the nearby Ahu'ena Heiau.

Hulihe‘e was originally built out of lava rock during the Kingdom of Hawai‘i on land known as Kalāke‘e, a former residence of Kamehameha the Great. The Palace itself was first home to High Chief John Adams Kuakini, brother of Ka‘ahumanu the favorite wife of Kamehameha, and later home to more members of Hawaiian royalty than any other residence in Hawai‘i. Hulihe‘e Palace consists of six large graciously appointed rooms, two large inviting oceanfront lanai, and lovely grounds. It has been restored and is open for tours.

Up the hills outside Kona are coffee plantations. Yes, this is the home of Kona coffee. But the hills also provide a fabulous view of the Pacific Ocean and the Kona shoreline. Note that white blob near the middle of the photo — a cruise ship coming to anchor just offshore.

Just down the coast from Kona, you can step back in time and into a piece of living Hawaiian history — Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park. A tour of this park is one of the top things to do on the west (Kona) side of the Big Island and an excellent way to experience traditional Hawaiian culture. Mom, there ain't nothing like this in Florida.

Set on the rugged and beautiful south Kona coast, the "city of refuge", was a haven for those who broke the Kapus (laws) which in old Hawaii were punishable by death. If you reached the Puʻuhonua, you would be pardoned by a Kahuna and given a second chance at life. A sacred site, carrying the powerful mana (spiritual energy of power and strength) of 23 interred Aliʻi chiefs, the Puʻuhonua and Royal Grounds were used by the Hawaiians for centuries.

Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau is also a place where Hawaiian arts are practiced and preserved. Here talented artists carve the tikis in traditional style for placement in this "city of refuge". Performers also dance the hula, play traditional instruments (like the nose flute), and teach kids the games of Hawaiian keikis (children).

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com