Vacation Rental in Princeville Kauai
and Kauai Travel Guide
History of Kauai and Hawaii
People did not rush to settle in the world’s most remote place. Humans have inhabited
other parts of the Earth 60 times longer than they have lived in Hawaii. The first
migrations to Kauai and the other Hawaiian islands likely came from the 11 islands
that make up the Marquesas, 2,000 miles to the southeast. The Marquesans were masters
at building great double-
As new evidence comes to light, anthropologists have pushed the date of the first journey to Hawaii back to about 400 A.D. The Polynesian sailors had neither charts nor navigational instruments, but relied on an internal navigational system programmed by intuition, knowledge and experience.
The first settlers came prepared. With them they brought useful plants such as taro,
ti, sugar cane, ginger, yams, bamboo and the breadfruit tree. They also brought
the small pigs of Polynesia, dogs, fowl and stowaway rats. Native lowland forests
were cleared with slash-
The Polynesians likely settled the southernmost island of Hawaii first. To the northwest, they could have easily accessed Maui by crossing the narrow channel and the migration would have continued across the Hawaiian chain. For seven centuries the Marquesans continued their voyages to Hawai‘i. They lived peacefully on the new land and the tribes coexisted in relative harmony since there was no competition for land.
In about the 12th century, an exodus of aggressive Tahitians subjugated the settled Hawaiians. The Tahitian priest, Pa‘ao introduced the warlike god Ku and replaced basic animistic beliefs with the rigid kapu (forbidden) system. Deciding that the Hawaiian blueblood was too diluted, Pa‘ao summoned Pili, a Tahitian chief, to establish a new royal lineage. With Pili as ruler and Pa‘ao as high priest, a new dynasty was formed. It was to last seven centuries.
Scholars speculate that this second wave of Polynesians drove the former Marquesans farther north in the Hawaiian chain until they were eliminated from the islands. Conquered Marquesans may have been the Menehune mentioned in early Hawaiian and Tahitian chants. Tahitians bore a similar term, manahune, with honor until warriors from Raiatea conquered their island and the word took on a new context. Manahune became the derisive name for a commoner. When the Tahitians seized the position of leadership in the Hawaiian Islands they likely labeled the early settlers Menehune, repeating the Raiateans process of hierarchical demotion.
Legend turned the Menehune into a race of gnome-
The idea of a physically small race of people caught the imagination of early Westerners. Menehune may have had small importance in the social system of the Tahitians, but of the skeletal remains discovered on Kaua‘i, none indicate a race of physically small people. It is not known for certain what became of the Menehune. A story passed down that the king of the Menehune decided that their race had become impure from intermarriage and led his people to seek new lands. Stone structures on the small northwestern islands of Necker and Nihoa indicate that some people stopped there. These tiny islands could have sustained only a very small population.
The Tahitian migration to the Hawaiian Islands lasted for about a century. Their
intricate system of beliefs and practices was transformed into a stratified and rigid
Hawaiian culture. This caste system placed the ali‘i or noble class at the top.
Slightly lower in prestige were the kahunas, which included priests, healers and
astrologers. Lower down were the kanakawale, the craftsmen and artisans who made
the canoes, calabashes and lei. Next were the maka‘āinana or common people who worked
the land and at the bottom were the kauwā or untouchables. The noble class had lower
chiefs within it who provided the higher chief with taxes and commoners to serve
as soldiers. Land was divided among the chiefs into wedge-
Life centered on the kapu, a complete set of rules that dictated what was sacred or forbidden. A kapu forbade women to eat pork, bananas and shark meat; nor could they eat in the company of men. According to the 19th century Hawaiian scholar, David Malo, a person could not allow his shadow to fall upon the house of a chief, or pass through that chief’s stockade or doorway.
Hawaiians generally worshiped privately at small shrines or in their homes. The
focal points of most major religious observances were large open-
Because ancient Hawaiians did not have a written language, their past was kept alive with the voices of kahuna who chanted the sacred mele, or historical record. The most important mele was called the Kumulipo and it retold the genealogies of the ali'i. It was by their direct lineage to the progenitor gods, Wakea and Papa that the ali'i claimed divine right to rule. They believed the union of these gods gave birth to the islands of Maui, Kaho‘olawe, Hawaii, Kauai and Ni‘ihau. The rest of the Hawaiian Islands were believed to be created when these gods took other mates.
The Kumulipo tells us that Kaua‘i enjoyed many decades of peace after the invasion and conquest of a prince called, Moikeha. Years of peace had not debilitated the prowess of Kaua‘i's warriors. Their courage and battle skills were renowned.
Succeeding Moikeha was Kūkona, who was to become the symbol of the highest ideals
of chivalry in battle for all Hawai‘i. The kahunas of Kauai came before King Kūkona
in the mid-
As was custom, the ali‘i leading the defeated armies faced being slaughtered and offered as sacrifices to the war god, Ku. Kūkona, however, decided to set the chiefs free providing they took an oath promising that they or their descendants would never again invade Kauai. With promises sworn, Kūkona set the conquered chiefs free and gave them and their men provisions. He had their canoes repaired and even gave them more from his own fleet. This was the beginning of a long peace on Kauai that lasted until 1795. The chivalry and grace embodied in Kūkona remained throughout centuries of Hawaiian history as the criterion by which all other acts of warfare were measured.