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Lono and Kaikilani
Source: King Kalakaua's The Legends and Myths of Hawai'i

A romantic episode in the royal annals.


  • Keawenui, king of Hawai'i
  • Kanaloa-kuaana,
  • Lonoikamakahiki, and
  • Pupuakea, sons of Keawenui by different mothers
  • Kukailani, nephew of Keawenui
  • Kaikilani, daughter of Kukailani
  • Kakuhihewa, king of O'ahu
  • Lanahuimihaku, a chief of O'ahu
  • Ohaikawiliula, a chiefess of Kauai
  • Heakekoa, a man of Molokai
  • Kaikinane, a woman of Molokai
Part I

What a hustling and barbaric little world in themselves were the eight habitable islands of the Hawai'ian archipelago before the white man came to rouse the simple but warlike islanders from the dream they had for centuries been living! Up to that time their national life had been a long romance, abundant in strife and deeds of chivalry, and scarcely less bountiful in episodes of love, friendship and self-sacrifice. Situated in mid-ocean, their knowledge of the great world, of which their island dots on the bosom of the Pacific formed but an infinitesimal portion, did not reach beyond a misty Kahiki, from which their fathers came some centuries before, and the bare names of other lands marking the migratory course of their ancestors thither.

The Hawai'ians were barbarous, certainly, since they slew their prisoners of war, and to their gods made sacrifice of their enemies; since no tie of consanguinity save that of mother and sone was a bar to wedlock; since murder was scarcely a crime, and the will of the alii-nui on every island was the supreme law; since the masses were in physical bondage to their chiefs and in mental slavery to the priesthood. Yet, with all this, they were a brave, hospitable, and unselfish people. The kings of the islands of Hawai'i, Maui, O'ahu and Kauai were in almost continual warfare with each other until brought under one government by Kamehameha I; but the fear of foreign invasion never disturbed them, and the people, who feared their gods, reverenced their rulers and possessed an easy and unfailing means of sustenance and personal comfort, were content with a condition which had been theirs for generations and was hopeless of amelioration; for the high chiefs in authority claimed a lineage distinct from that of the masses, and between them frowned a gulf socially and politically impassable.

The Hawai'ians were never cannibals. The most conspicuous of their barbarisms was the sacrifice of human beings to their gods; but did not the temples of early Gaul and Saxon flow with the blood of men? And did not one of the fathers of Israel sharpen his knife to slay the body of his son upon the altar of the God of Abraham? They knew but little of the arts as we know them now, and the useful and precious metals were all unknown to them; yet they made highways over the precipices, reared massive walls of stone around their temples, carried effective weapons into battle, and constructed capacious single and double canoes and barges, which they navigated by the light of the stars. They had no language either of letters or of symbolism, but so accurately were their legends preserved and transmitted that the great chiefs were able to trace their ancestry back, generation by generation, to something like a kinship with the children of Jacob, and even beyond in the same mannar to Noah, and thence to Adam. What wonder, then, that under their old kings the islands of Hawai'i should have been the home of romance, and that the south wind should have sighed in numbers through the caves of Kona?

And now, borne by the soft breath of the tropics, let us be wafted to the island of Hawai'i, and backward over a misty bridge of historic meles to the reign of Kealiiokoloa, a son of Umi and grandson of the famed Liloa. It was during his brief reign - extending, perhaps, from 1520 to 1530 - that for a second time a white face was seen by the Hawai'ians. A Spanish vessel from the Moluccas was driven upon the reefs of Keei, in the district of Kona, and was completely destroyed. But two persons were saved from the wreck - the captain and his sister. They were first thought to be gods by the simple islanders; but as their first request was for food, which they ate with avidity, and their next for rest, which seemed to be as necessary to them as to other mortals, they were soon relieved of their celestial attributes and conducted to the king, who recieved them graciously and took them under his protection. The captain - named by the natives Kukanaloa - wedded a dusky maiden of good family, and the sister became the wife of a chief in whose veins ran royal blood.

On the death of Kealiiokoloa his younger brother, Keawenui, assumed the sceptre in defiance of the right of Kukailani, his nephew and son of the dead king, who was too young to assert his authority. This he was better enabled to do in consequence of the sudden death of the king, possibly by poison, before his successor had been formally named. Keawenui's usurpation, however, was resisted by the leading chiefs of the island, who refused to recognize his authority and rose in arms against him. But he inherited something of the martial prowess of his father, Umi, and, meeting the revolted chiefs before they had time to properly organize their forces, destroyed them in detail, and thereafter reigned in peace. Nor could it well have been otherwise, for the bones of the rebellious chiefs of Kohala, Hamakua, Hilo, Puna, Kau and Kona were among the trophies of his household, and Kukailani, lacking ambition, was content with the lot of idleness and luxury which the crafty uncle placed at his command.

And thus, while Keawenui continued in the moiship of Hawai'i, Kukalani, the rightful ruler, grew to manhood around the court of his uncle. In due time the prince married, and among the children born to him was Kaikilani, the heroine of this little story. At the age of fifteen she was the most lovely of the maidens of Hawai'i. Her face was fairer than any other in Hilo, to which place Keawenui had removed his court; and that is saying much, for the king was noted for his gallantries, and the handsomest women in the kingdom were among his retainers. If her complexion was a shade lighter than that of the others, it was because of the Castilian blood that had come to her through her grandmother, the sister of Kukanaloa, and brighter eyes than hers never peered through the lattices of the Guadalquivir.

Kaikilani became the wife of the king's eldest son, Kanaloakuaana, and, in further atonement of the wrong he had done her father, on his death-bed Keawenui formally conferred upon her the moiship of Hawai'i. Among the other sons left by Keawenui at his death was Lono. His full name was Lonoikamakahiki. His mother was Haokalani, in whose veins ran the best blood of O'ahu.

Early in life Lono exhibited remarkable intelligence, and as he grew to manhood, after the death of his father, in athletic and warlike exercises and other manly accomplishments he had not a peer in all Hawai'i. So greatly was he admired by the people, and so manifestly was he born to rule, that his brother, the husband and advisor of the queen, recommended that he be elevated to the moiship, in equal power and dignity with Kaikilani.

What followed could have occurred only in Hawai'i. A day was appointed for a public trial of Lono's abilities before the assembled chiefs of the kingdom. Although but twenty-three years of age, his knowledge of warfare, of government, of the unwritten laws of the island and the prerogatives of the kapu was found to be complete; and Kawaamaukele, the venerable high-priest of Hilo, whose white hairs swept his knees, and who had foretold Lono's future when a boy, bore testimony to his thorough mastery of the legendary annals of the people and his zeal in the worship of the gods.

So much for his mental acquirements. To test his physical accomplishments the chiefs most noted for their skill, strength and endurance were summoned from all parts of the kingdom. It was a tournament in which one man threw down the glove to every chief in Hawai'i. The various contests continued for ten consecutive days, in the presence of thousands of people, and between the many trials of strength and skill were interspersed feasting, music and dancing. The scene was brilliant. More than a hundred distinguished chiefs, in yellow mantles and helmets, presented themselves to test the prowess of Lono in exercises in which they individually excelled. But the mighty grandson of Umi vanquished them all. He outran the fleetest, as well on the plain as in bringing a ball of snow from the top of Mauna Kea. On a level he leaped the length of two long war-spears, and in uli-maita, holua and other athletic games he found no rival. In a canoe contest he distanced twelve competitiors, and then plunged into the sea with a pahoa in his hand, and slew and brought to the surface the body of a large shark. He caught in his hands twenty spears hurled at him in rapid succession by as many strong arms, and in the moku-moku, or wrestling contests, he broke the limbs of three of his adversaries.

Among the witnesses of these contests was the still young and comely Kaikilani. It is true that she had frequently met the young hero, and regarded him with such favor as she might the brother of her husband; but now, at the end of his victories, he appeared to her almost as a god, with whom it would be an honor to share the sovereignty of the kingdom; and when, amidst the plaudits of thousands, she threw the royal mamo over his shoulders with her own hands, and in doing so kissed his cheek, her husband saw that she loved Lono better than she had ever loved him. "The gods have decreed it," said Kanaloa, in sorrow, but with no feeling of bitterness, "and so it shall be!"

He consulted with the chiefs and high-priest, and at the conclusion of a feast the same evening, given in honor of Lono, he took his brother by the hand and led him to the apartment of the queen. As they entered, Kaikilani rose from a soft couch of kapa, and waited to hear the purpose of their visit; for it was near the middle of the night, and but a single kukui torch was burning in front of the door. The heart of Kanaloa fluttered in his throat, but he finally said, with apparent calmness:

"My good Kaikilani, what I am about to say is in sorrow to myself and in affection for you. Of all the sons of our father, Lono seems most to have the favor of the gods. Is it strange, then, that he should have yours as well? It is therefore deemed best by the gods, the chiefs and myself that you accept Lono as your husband, and share with him henceforth the government of Hawai'i. Is it your will that this be done?"

Kaikilani was almost dazed with the abrupt announcement; but she understood its full meaning, and, after gazing for a moment into the face of Lono and reading no objection there, she found the courage to answer:

"Since it is the will of the gods, it is also mine."

"So shall it be made known by the heralds," said Kanaloa, bowing to hide his grief, and leaving Lono and the queen together.

Thus it was that Lono, of whom tradition relates so many romantic stories, became the moi of Hawai'i and the husband of the most attractive woman of her time, Queen Kaikilani.

On to Part II.