THE HANA HOU SERIES
The Last Hawaiian Mariner
by Kawika Sands © 1999
La`a's Triple Canoe
There was no jealousy of La`a, for it was known that he would soon return to Ra`iatea and there remain as heir and successor to `Olopana. In La`a's veins ran the noblest blood of O`ahu. The great-great-grandson of Paumakua in direct and unchallenged decent. Proud descendant of the distinguished southern Ulu-Nanamaoa-Puna-Paumakua line, and heir to the powerful northern Nanaulu-Maweke dynasty of kings.
It was not deemed well that the line of Paumakua, through so distinguished a representative as La`a, should be perpetuated solely on foreign soil in Kahiki. It was felt his mana should grow and live on through his children as seeds planted in Hawaiian soil. From this suggestion, the matter came to be seriously discussed by the leading chiefs. Finally, La`a was approached on the subject. Being a young man, the patriotic proposal of the chiefs very naturally accorded with his tastes and without great persuasion he expressed a willingness to comply with what seemed a general request.
Of course, La`a's approval didn't quite settle the delicate question, as the chiefs at once observed, of who would be a suitable wife for such a desirable husband. Most of the chiefs had daughters or sisters of marriageable age, but which one should they select? Whose family should be honored? They were willing to leave the choice to La`a, who sagaciously anticipated the result, and graciously declined to make the selection.
As usual in momentous cases of doubt, the high-priest was consulted. In due course the matter was settled to the satisfaction of La`a and the chiefs. It was agreed that he would marry three wives, all on the same day. The maidens were: Hoakanui, daughter of Lonokaehu a chief of Kualoa; Waolena, daughter of a chief of Kaalaea; and Mano, daughter of a chief of Kaneohe. All were noted for their beauty and distinguished blood.
The three brides were brought to the mansion of La`a, at Kualoa, on the day fixed for the triple marriage. The event was celebrated with splendor and enthusiasm. The marriage agreement was made public by a herald as was the custom of nobility. The brides, attired and decked with lei, were escorted in form to the bride-groom. That evening, a feast was served on the grounds to more than a thousand guests with hula and other festive accompaniments including a song of personal application sung in a conversational style making it more intelligible to the new wives and their husband.
La`a remained at Kualoa for a year, during which, each wife presented La`a with a son born on the very same day. They were named Ahukini-a-La`a, Kukona-a-La`a and Laui-a-La`a. An ancient chant records the occasion:
La`a later moved to Kahiki-nui, Maui (named for La`a's homeland in honor of him). As the place was too windy however, La`a left for the west coast of Kaho`olawe where he lived until he finally decided to return to Ra`iatea. He was saddened for leaving the land of his youth, but was satisfied for his brief married life which had been singularly bountiful and blessed. And for his renewal of familial ties.
On the eve of the voyage home, with the wind at his back and the stars in his eyes, La`a fondly remembered the last time he sailed for Kahiki as a boy by Mo`ikeha's side and recalled his first voyaging lesson. "Observe the Southern Cross and the distances between the horizon, the lower star and the upper star" La`a said to himself. "Measure a line in the sky with the width of the hand. When Kaulia crosses our path there (50° above the horizon), and Ka Mole Honua crosses our path there (44° above the horizon), and the star `A`a is nearly over head, we will be near Opoa."
With mixed feelings of regret and eagerness, the canoes set sail for home with La`a. The last Hawaiian mariner.
TLHM Writer's Notes:
. . . Hoakanui, Waolena and Mano, the brides of La`a and their children, were well cared for at Kualoa. From their children, AhukiniaLa`a, KukonaaLa`a and LauiaLa`a, it was the pride and glory of generations of the governing families of O`ahu and Kaua`i to trace their lineage.
La`a arrived at Moa`ulanuiakea just in time to receive `Olopana's dying blessing, as he had promised, and assumed the throne of Moa`ulanuiakea. There La`a stayed until he passed away. Because La`a set sail for Kahiki from the west coast of Kaho`olawe, the ocean to the west of Kaho`olawe is called Kealaikahiki, "The Road to Kahiki."
Kila assumed the chiefdomship in place of Mo`ikeha, according to the wishes of his late father, his mother, his aunt and his mother's father. His brothers, Ho`okamali`i and Haulaninuiaiakea, continued to give him trouble. So, Kila left for the island of Hawai`i. There, he obtained possession of the Waipi`o Valley, former land of his uncle `Olopana, where he became prosperous. Kila was the ancestor of several prominent and influential Hawaiian families who traced their decent to him as late as the reign of King Kamehameha The Great. As first born of Mo`ikeha, Ho`okamali`i assumed the O`ahuan throne leaving Haulaninuiaiakea on Kaua`i.
Mo`ikeha remained on Kaua`i after La`a departed and died within a year or so. After being laid under the black kapa, his bones were taken to the cliffs of Ha`ena where they were deposited and hidden. Many of the names of his crew aboard the Kaulua, who accompanied him from Moa`ulanuiakea, are remembered as place names on several of the Hawaiian islands.
>From the time of La`a, Hawaiians learned nothing of the great world beyond their island paradise. Their children learned of distant shores only through the mysterious stories of their priests and a folklore of broken chains of fables and tales from the past in which the supernatural finally became the dominant feature. It is not understood exactly why communication between Hawai`i and Kahiki abruptly stopped for about six hundred years until the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778. But . . . that's another story.
The Hana Hou Series with Wahine O Hawai`i - Introduction
Hele on to Canoe Club News
Last Modified: Monday - 20000110.09:20 EST
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