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Kua'aina Kahiko

Kua'aina Kahiko: Life and Land in Ancient Kahikinui, Maui

Patrick Vinton Kirch
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Kua'aina Kahiko
    Book Description:

    In early Hawai‘i, kua‘āina were the hinterlands inhabited by nā kua‘āina, or country folk. Often these were dry, less desirable areas where much skill and hard work were required to wrest a living from the lava landscapes. The ancient district of Kahikinui in southeast Maui is such a kua‘āina and remains one of the largest tracts of undeveloped land in the islands. Named after Tahiti Nui in the Polynesian homeland, its thousands of pristine acres house a treasure trove of archaeological ruins—witnesses to the generations of Hawaiians who made this land their home before it was abandoned in the late nineteenth century. Kua‘āina Kahiko follows kama‘āina archaeologist Patrick Vinton Kirch on a seventeen-year-long research odyssey to rediscover the ancient patterns of life and land in Kahikinui. Through painstaking archaeological survey and detailed excavations, Kirch and his students uncovered thousands of previously undocumented ruins of houses, trails, agricultural fields, shrines, and temples. Kirch describes how, beginning in the early fifteenth century, Native Hawaiians began to permanently inhabit the rocky lands along the vast southern slope of Haleakalā. Eventually these planters transformed Kahikinui into what has been called the greatest continuous zone of dryland planting in the Hawaiian Islands. He relates other fascinating aspects of life in ancient Kahikinui, such as the capture and use of winter rains to create small wet-farming zones, and decodes the complex system of heiau, showing how the orientations of different temple sites provide clues to the gods to whom they were dedicated. Kirch examines the sweeping changes that transformed Kahikinui after European contact, including how some maka'āinana families fell victim to unscrupulous land agents. But also woven throughout the book is the saga of Ka ‘Ohana o Kahikinui, a grass-roots group of Native Hawaiians who successfully struggled to regain access to these Hawaiian lands. Rich with ancedotes of Kirch’s personal experiences over years of field research, Kua'āina Kahiko takes the reader into the little-known world of the ancient kua‘āina.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-4020-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    (pp. xix-xxii)
    Patrick Vinton Kirch
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  7. Prologue: In the Land of La‘amaikahiki
    (pp. 1-12)

    I have a great fondness for ‘Ulupalakua, that sleepy settlement of darkgreenpaniolohouses nestled among eucalyptus groves astride the southeastern rift of Haleakala. I celebrated my sixteenth birthday there in the summer of 1966, in Captain Makee’s old ranch house, while helping a Bishop Museum team map ancient house sites on the windy slopes of Kahikinui. Makee was a nineteenth-century Scots captain who found refuge from the sea on ‘Ulupalakua’s fertile slopes, overlooking Kaho‘olawe and her tiny sister island, Molokini. ‘Ulupalakua has always been a place of rest. In ancient times weary travelers coming from Hāna on the far...

  8. 1 Discovering Ancient Kahikinui
    (pp. 13-26)

    Unlike other regions of the islands, such as Waipi‘o on Hawai‘i or Waikiki and Kualoa on O‘ahu, where themo‘oleloare rich in ancient stories of the land, Kahikinui is impoverished when it comes to traditional lore. No doubt in Kahikinui thekua‘āinaonce had a rich oral history, but it died withka po‘e kahikoin the nineteenth century. For those who would venture to write a history of thekua‘āinaof Kahikinui—both the land and its ancient people—there are thus two main sources of knowledge: the first is the historical documentary record that began with the...

  9. 2 Return to Kahikinui
    (pp. 27-34)

    When I encountered Kawaipi‘ilani Paikai at the ruins of St. Ynez Church on Pu‘u Ani‘ani in 1993 (see the prologue), the memories of that long-ago summer of 1966 came flooding back. Sitting in the shade of the plywood roof that Ka ‘Ohana o Kahikinui had erected over the crumbling church walls, I gazed up over the Kipapa slopes, recalling long days mapping lichen-encrusted walls hidden in the thorny lantana. For many years I had thought about trying to finish the work that we had begun here. A few weeks later, back in my office at Berkeley, I pulled open a...

  10. 3 Lava Landscapes
    (pp. 35-49)

    Lying astride the southern flank of Haleakala, the land of Kahikinui was formed of endless lava outpourings that cascaded for tens of thousands of years from the craters and cinder cones that gash and dimple that great mountain’s slopes. More than anything, Kahikinui is a land of lava, congealed after the fiery flows scorched everything in their path. To understand this land—and how a Polynesian people made their living off its often harsh and challenging features—we must begin with the underlying geology.

    Haleakalā, like all Hawaiian volcanoes, originated from a hot spot, or plume of magma originating deep...

  11. 4 Living on Lava
    (pp. 50-60)

    In early July 1995, I was back on Maui, eager to expand the settlement pattern mapping of Kipapa. A few days earlier I had met with officials of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) at their offices in Honolulu. Carolyn Darr of DHHL explained that Ka ‘Ohana o Kahikinui was now more formally organized, having adopted a set of bylaws and elected a board of directors. Mo Moler was the or ganization’s new president. Darr asked me to meet with Moler when I arrived on Maui. I also saw my old friend and colleague Ross Cordy, then branch chief...

  12. 5 Stones Stacked upon Stones
    (pp. 61-74)

    By the end of the 1995 field season we had closed the Chapman Gap, a major milestone in completing the settlement-pattern survey of Kipapa. On the first of August we logged the one thousandth archaeological feature into our growing database. To celebrate, that evening in the cottage at Makawao I opened a bottle of Maui Brut sparkling wine from the ‘Ulupalakua winery. Peter Chapman would have approved. But completing the survey of Kīpapa ahupua‘a from the coast all the way to the uplands would still take several more field seasons. Over the next three years I continued to plug away...

  13. 6 Time
    (pp. 75-87)

    In the Middle Ages, before the invention of the printing press, monks laboriously copied manuscripts by hand onto parchment, thin pieces of calfskin especially prepared for writing. Making such a parchment was laborious. When the text of an old document was no longer needed, rather than throw the parchment away the monks would scrape it clean and write a new text over the traces of the old. Sometimes this happened repeatedly. But the scraping process never completely obliterated the older writing. With careful examination, the older, underlying texts can often still be deciphered. Scholars of medieval books refer to such...

  14. 7 The Pānānā of Hanamauloa
    (pp. 88-97)

    On a chilly morning in early February 1997, I pulled my Jeep over at the St. Ynez Church ruins. The Hale Pili provided a cozy shelter from the incessant winds and a gathering place for Ka ‘Ohana o Kahikinui. Two years had passed since I recommenced the archaeological work in Kahikinui. I had received a research grant from the National Science Foundation for two years of work. This would allow us to ramp up the scale of the research, including funds for specialized analyses such as radiocarbon dating and geochemical analysis of volcanic tools. I was now back in Kahikinui...

  15. 8 Farming the Rock
    (pp. 98-114)

    Topography and climate intersect to make Kahikinui a dry, parched, and—during periods of drought—even desiccated landscape, what the ancient Hawaiians called an ‘āina malo‘o.Making a living in such circumstances was not impossible, but it required hard work and specialized dry-farming methods. As the nineteenth-century Hawaiian scholar Davida Malo put it, life in the ‘āina malo‘ocalled for “great patience, being attended with many drawbacks.” It was not just the scarcity of water, the seasonality of the limited rainfall, or the frequency of drought that posed these challenges. The horticultural legacy of the Polynesians had been shaped for...

  16. 9 Kauhale: Domestic Life of Nā Kua‘āina
    (pp. 115-133)

    Hawaiian scholar Davida Malo devoted a section of his famous nineteenthcenturyKa Mo‘olelo Hawai‘ito the traditional Hawaiian house. Or, more properly, one should say “houses,” because the Hawaiians before European contact lived out their daily lives in clusters of thatched houses and sheds, each of which had a distinct function. Malo writes, “There was a special house for the man to sleep in with his wife and children (hale noa), also a number of houses specially devoted to different kinds of work, including one for the wife to do her work in (hale kua).” Men and women congregated together...

  17. 10 “The Many Smoky Fish of the Land”
    (pp. 134-145)

    Dawn was breaking as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes. Overhead the wiry branches of an oldkiawetree rubbed and scraped against each other in the wind. I turned over in my sleeping bag, sprawled out on a lawn chair I use as a bed when camping at Niniali‘i; its metal legs are my defense against the aggressive reddish-brown centipedes that stalk their prey through the fallenkiaweleaves. The camp was quiet, my students slumbering in their tents. Some embers still glowed in the rock fireplace nearby. The previous night we had barbecued teriyaki steaks and fresh-caught...

  18. 11 How Many Maka‘āinana?
    (pp. 146-157)

    If the question most frequently asked of me about Kahikinui is, “When did people first settle themoku?” then the second-most asked question is surely, “ How many people once lived in this vast district?” This question has engaged me throughout my years of research in Kahikinui. It was also of great interest to the members of Ka ‘Ohana o Kahikinui, in their struggles to convince the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands that a sizable Hawaiian population once did—and still could—inhabit this lava landscape. The question becomes more complicated once you start to think about it. There is...

  19. 12 The Archaeology of Hydrology
    (pp. 158-169)

    In a classic‘āina malo‘osuch as Kahikinui, the last thing I expected to encounter was evidence for the “wet” cultivation of taro. Taro irrigation—the practice of diverting water from streams into‘auwai(canals), which fed ranks oflo‘i(pondfields)—was highly developed by the ancient Hawaiians. In the windward regions of the older islands, where valley topography and permanently flowing streams made wet cultivation feasible, the Hawaiians constructed extensive irrigation works. Suchkalolands covered much of the lowlands of Kaua‘i and O‘ahu, as well as the valley floors of East Moloka‘i, West Maui, and Kohala on Hawai‘i....

  20. 13 Heiau: Sites of Sacrifice and Power
    (pp. 170-191)

    Kahikinui has always been—for me—an innately spiritual place. The stunning sweep of its lava landscape rising through and above the clouds to the summit of Haleakalā evokes an awe both of nature and of our place within nature. Exploring its remote corners—whether walking along the abandoned track of the oldala nuiin Kipapa or hiking the misty uplands in the shadow of Pu‘u Pane—one might encounter what Polynesians call “voices on the wind.” The wise old Reverend Ka‘alakea spoke to me of the‘uhanewho “whistled” to strangers intruding into their territory. I do not...

  21. 14 Seasons of the Gods
    (pp. 192-212)

    The religion of traditional Hawai‘i can be traced back to an older system of worship in the Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki, 2,000 years earlier. In ancient Hawaiki this polytheistic and complex ritual system revolved around an annual cycle of offerings, especially first fruits, to the ancestors. A key part of these ancient rituals was the New Year festival, the Mata-fiti, marked by the rising of the star cluster Mata-liki (Little Eyes), the Proto-Polynesian name for the Pleiades. Close observation of Pleiades rising and setting allowed the early Polynesian priest-chiefs to recalibrate their lunar calendar, keeping it in sync with the...

  22. 15 The Hao of La Pérouse
    (pp. 213-228)

    On the twenty-sixth of November 1778, theResolutionandDiscovery—British naval vessels under the command of Captain James Cook—sighted the island of Maui. Cook scribbled in his log that the island’s “summit appear’d above the Clouds.” Earlier that year the exploring expedition had landed briefly at Waimea, Kaua‘i; they had seen O‘ahu in the distance. Although he had been told by the Kaua‘i people that other islands lay to the east of O‘ahu, Cook had not tarried to explore them. His instructions from the Admiralty were to search for the fabled Northwest Passage along the coast of “New...

  23. 16 The Catechist of St. Ynez
    (pp. 229-241)

    In late July 1996, my Berkeley team neared the end of its second summer of fieldwork in Kīpapa. We had been excavating in a selection of pre-contact and early post-contact Hawaiiankauhale,or residential complexes. After digging in three successivekauhale,all dating to the pre-contact period (i.e., prior to 1778), we decided to conclude the field season with a final excavation at what appeared to be a post-contact residential site. I thought that it would be useful to obtain data from a mid-nineteenth-century habitation, in order to see what changes in residential patterns had occurred after European contact.


  24. 17 Paiko’s Windmill
    (pp. 242-257)

    In February 1929, Winslow Walker was surveying archaeological sites along the Kahikinui coastline, riding on horse back with Native Hawaiian guides from Kaupō. In his field notebook Walker scribbled some notes about a “village site near Kahawaikapapa Point—Uliuli.” The village name Uliuli must have been given to Walker by the unnamed Hawaiian in for mants accompanying him on this excursion. Later, when Walker wrote up his manuscript on Maui archaeology at the Bishop Museum, he described the village site of Uliuli:

    Twenty-one sites of different kinds were counted here, eleven of which were identified as house sites. There are...

  25. Epilogue: The Future of Kahikinui
    (pp. 258-262)

    After Paiko’s cattle trampled the last‘ualafields of Kahikinui, after the few remaining families abandoned their village at Uliuli at the end of the nineteenth century, the half-millennium-long experiment in Hawaiian use and management of thesekuaāinalands came to an end. Lantana,pāninicactus, koa haole, and other foreign weeds invaded the once intensively gardened swales.Heiauwalls slowly crumbled, their‘a‘ārubble covered with creeping lichen. For the next century the only voices to resonate across this empty landscape were those of thepaniolo,working for the Kahikinui Ranch of Enos and Ferreira, or later for ‘Ulupalakua...

  26. Appendix A: Palapala‘āina: Mapping the Land
    (pp. 263-272)
  27. Appendix B: Gazetteer of Kahikinui Place Names
    (pp. 273-280)
    (pp. 281-286)
    (pp. 287-300)
    (pp. 301-304)
  31. INDEX
    (pp. 305-310)
  32. Back Matter
    (pp. 311-313)