Where the "First Hawaiian" Was Born

I was asked a question about where the “first Hawaiian” was born according to the Papahānaumoku, Wākea and Hoʻohōkūlani epic.

The answer is:

At a place called Moʻo-kapu-o-Hāloa which is the main ridge of Kāne-hoa-lani at Kua-loa, Oʻahu. This can be looked up in Abraham Fornander, Martha Beckwith and even in “Place Names of Hawaiʻi” by the eminent Mary Kawena Pukui.

From the first part of the place name, Moʻo-kapu, we derive two translations.
Moʻo can mean lizard or supernatural dragon or in succession. Kapu means sacred.
The moʻo has long been one of the ancient guardians of Kama-lala-walu line of chiefs. Papahānaumoku, the earth mother, was of that line and thus all chiefs all derive from that line through her and her daughter, Hoʻohōkūlani. It is interesting to note the ties between royalty, lizards (moʻo or nagas), and dragons is something that is not just found among Hawaiians but among the our cousins throughout SE Asia and the Pacific but as well as throughout East Asia. There are also stories about kupua moʻo, dragon or lizard women, who would act as midwives to chiefly babies. It is said that one such powerful moʻo wahine was a midwife to Hoʻohōkūlani when she gave birth to Hāloanaka (which was the son that became the kalo plant) and Hāloa (which became the ancestor of the Hawaiian people).
Moʻo can also mean in succession. Moʻo aliʻi means succession of chiefs. Moʻolelo means a succession of stories. Moʻo kapu could therefore mean in succession of sacredness. Sacred lizard or the succession of sacred ones would all therefore make sense as a translation.
Therefore, next time one goes to Kualoa and sees that high Ridge, one can nod in acknowledgement that is where the “first Hawaiian” was born. That is where Wākea lived with Hoʻohōkūlani at one time. That is where the lines of chiefs and of the lehulehu had sprung down to the earth.

Ka-wai-a-Haʻo Spring

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Ka-wai-a-Haʻo, the famed waters of the chief Haʻo. Haʻo was middle child of King Keaweʻīkekahialiʻiokamoku and one of the grandsons of Queen Keakealaniwahine of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi and Iwikauikaua of Oʻahu. Queen Keakealaniwahine of Hawaiʻi Islandʻs second reigning queen and ancestor to nearly every great royal and noble houses of Keawe, ʻĪ, Mahi and later Kamehameha, Kalākaua and Kawānanakoa. The grandson, Haʻo, lived on his grandfatherʻs lands of Kou (now called Honolulu). Honolulu was a dry dusty place to live and traditionally Oʻahu chiefs preferred Wahiawā or Waikīkī. But Kou was renown for its gambling, wrestling, cock fights, trading and parties. Haʻo was an aliʻi but was a shy middle child. He was honest in his dealings and did not like to be reminded of his position that though he was a middle child, he still held status. Haʻo one day had a dream which told him to dig at a certain part of his lands. The next day, he did so but nothing was found. Later, he had the same dream. The next day, he ignored the dream and went on his business. Then for a third time, he had the same dream so the next day, he prayed, made an offering and dug. Then came the spring water of Ka-wai-a-Haʻo.

Some of Waiʻanaeʻs History

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Waiʻanae is mentioned in the epic of Pele and Hiʻiaka as well as the name chants dedicated to Kūaliʻi and Moʻikeha. Prior to the 13th century, Oʻahu had been divided into three kingdoms: ʻEwa (which included Waiʻanae, Kūkaniloko and the ʻEwa plains), Kona and Koʻolaupoko. Around that time, a chief from Waiʻanae, Kumuhonua, became the nominal ruler of all Oʻahu but his kingdom collapsed after his passing. Two hundred years later in the early 15th century, Kumuhonuaʻs descendant, Laʻakona re-united Oʻahu. He, too, was from Waiʻanae. He made the capital of his kingdom in Līhuʻe, Oʻahu. Līhuʻe on Oʻahu is located where Schofield Barracks is today and near the Kūkaniloko complex. The most prized warriors of Oʻahu normally came from Waiʻanae and ʻEwa because it is said that the arid rugged terrain produced people who knew how to handle hardship unlike the people on the Windward side where life seemed easier. Queen Kalanimanuia of Oʻahu, sometimes known as the Red Queen because of her kahili and feather regalia, caused to be built extensive loʻi, ditches and ponds in Waiʻanae to augment the water supply and agriculture production. 

Upon her death, her sons caused Oʻahu into turmoil and shattered the peace Oʻahu had known for three generations. Napūlānahumahiki, a grandson of Kalanimanuia, proclaimed Waiʻanae independence. His sister, Kaea-a-Kalona, inherited the Waiʻanae Kingdom and married her cousin and the other main rival heir, Kākuihihewa of Kona (Oʻahu). Together Oʻahu was re-united through their union and through shrewdly utilizing the Aha ʻUla, the chiefly council. The reign of Kākuihihewa reign was a golden age of Oʻahu and the population dramatically increased–by some estimates three-fold within 40 years. As Waiʻanae was known for its warriors and itʻs claim to independence, the senior and presumptive heir to the throne of Oʻahu was then given the Lordship of Waiʻanae, ʻEwa and Līhuʻe, sort of like the title of “Prince of Wales”. This gave a presumptive heir experience in governance but also to guard Oʻahu against Kauaʻi and to ensure the loyalty of the people of the Leeward coast. But to ensure the loyalty of the peoples of the Windward coast, Kākuihihewa moved the court to Kona (Oʻahu) to his former capital. This arrangement seemed to have pleased most of the chiefs. The Kākuihihewa and Kaea-a-Kalona line produced two great Oʻahu kings–Kūaliʻi and Peleiōholani. Peleiōholani spent a lot of his time in Waiʻanae due to his wars against Kauaʻi. Peleiōholani was the first Oʻahu king to use the title of “Mōʻī”, a title previously only used by Mauiʻs kings. He also used the titles “Lord of all southern Kauaʻi, Conqueror of Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi”. Unfortunately, Peleiōholaniʻs son, Kumuhana, proved to be an awful ruler and he was deposed by the Aha ʻUla (the chiefly council) and was exiled to Kauaʻi. The Aha ʻUla then elected Kumuhanaʻs nephew, Kahahana. In 1783, Kahekili II overthrew Kahahana and became mōʻī of Oʻahu and Peleiōholaniʻs lands of southern Kauaʻi. Kahekili II then married off one of his kin to the Queen of Kauaʻi and thus Kauaʻi became a tributary of Maui. Maui thus had control of all islands except the Big Island of Hawaiʻi and 1783 marked the end of Oʻahuʻs independent kingdom–a three hundred year old kingdom that in many ways originated in the lands of ʻEwa and Waiʻanae.