KAPU: Do not rearrange stones, build rock piles, or otherwise disturb the terrain!

mauna kea do not move pohaku

[On pre-Cook non-white haole, pre-Cook steel, and the sacred Mauna and Ahu a Umi, the temple and complex of 16th century Alii Nui Umi-a-Liloa a direct ascendant of tens of thousands, or more, of Native Hawaiians living today. From my own work in the discipline of anthropology I would however, caution the proposition in this tale that assumes that steel that washed up on the shores was what carved the megalithic stones of Umi’s massive construction initiatives. Sure they would’ve used it but they had their own ways as well… What carved these stones in my opinion comes from what modern archaeologists and anthropologists have called the most significant archaeological site in all of the Pacific and Oceania, namely what is called the Adze Quarry, “Keanakoʻi,” whose products of ancient technology, the rocks itself, were so dense and hard that people traveled thousands and thousands of miles across the Pacific, risking their lives at 40 at at time, for the sole purpose of trading to acquire what was mined from the sacred Adze Quarry of Mauna Kea. The pohaku, the “rocks,” from the Adze Quarry can be found on many Pacific Islands scattered across 1/3 of the earth’s surface and have been scientifically verified to have originated from the top of our sacred Mauna. The geological conditions of the worlds tallest mountain from its base, Mauna Kea, creates a certain type of signature that geologists can analyze and verify beyond a shadow of doubt, its origins. The Adze Quarry is a site directly threatened today by the atrocity that is the Thirty Meter Telescope Project. Now we turn to our oral history which corroborates much of what science pretends to discover- to the 15th century King of Kings, Father of many today, Umi a Liloa:]

Umi reigned in the place of Hakau. His two aikanes-Koi and Omokamau-had come to join him, and resided at his court. Piimaiwaa, of Hilo, was his most valiant warrior. “l Ia ia ka mamaka kaua “-it was to him that the batallion of war belonged; a figurative expression which denotes the general-in-chief. Pakaa was one of the favorites of Umi, and Lono was his kahuna. While Umi reigned upon the eastern coast of the island, one of his cousins, Keliiokaloa reigned on the western coast, and held his court at Kailua. It was in the reign of this prince, about two centuries before the voyage of Captain Cook, that a ship was wrecked at Keei, in the district of Kona, not far from the spot where the celebrated English navigator met with his death in 1779. It was about the year 1570 that men of a haole race landed for the first time in Hawaii. A man and a woman, having escaped from the wreck, landed upon the beach at Kealakekua. On reaching the shore, these unfortunates prostrated themselves upon the lava with their faces on the ground, that is how the name of that place, Kulou (bowing down), originiated and is still borne by the place which was the witness of this scene. The shipwrecked foreigners speedily conformed themselves to the habits of the natives, who assert that there still exists in our day a family of chiefs descended from these two haole. Loeau, daughter of Liliha, is said to have been a descendant of these haole.

Keliiokaloa took pleasure in wantonly felling coconut trees, and devastating cultivated fields. His evil deeds led Umi to declare war against him. Umi took the field at the head of his army, accompanied by his famous warrior, Piimaiwaa, by his friends Koi and Omokamau, by his favorite Pakaa, and by Lono, his priest. He turned the sides of Mauna Kea, and advancing between Mauna Kea and Hualalai, in the direction of Mauna Loa, arrived at the great central plain of the island, with the intention of descending to Kailua. Keliiokaloa putting himself at the head of his warriors, marched to encounter Umi. The two armies met upon the elevated plains, surrounded by the three Mauna of Hawaii, at the place which is now called Ahu a Umi. Two men of the slave class by the name of Loepuni, famous warriors of the party of Keliiokaloa, fought with superhuman courage, and Umi was about to fall under their blows, when Piimaiwaa, coming to his aid, delivered the victory to his side. Though history is silent in, it is probable that the King of Kailua, Keliiakaloa, perished in the combat.

This victory completely rid Umi of his last rival in power. He reigned thenceforth as sole monarch on Hawaii. In order to transmit to posterity the remembrance of this remarkable battle, he caused to be erected on the battle-field, by the people of the six provinces, a singular monument composed of six triangular ahu of lava collected in the neighborhood. A seventh ahu was erected by the hands of his nobles and officers. At the centre of this enormous collection of stones, he built a temple, the traces of which are visible today, for the purpose of restoring the district boundaries. The whole of this vast monument is called by the name of its founder, Ahu a Umi, the Alters of Umi. Umi built another temple at the foot of Pohaku Hanalei, on the coast of Kona, called Ahu a Hanalei. A third temple was also erected by him on the slope of Mauna Kea, in the direction of Hilo, at the place called Puukeekee. We recognize also the traces of the houses of Umi, covered with a large lava rock.

They gave Umi the name of the mountain king. Tradition relates that he retired into the centre of the island from love of his people. He employed workmen from all quarters to hew stones which were to serve, some say, to construct a sepulchral vault, or, according to others, a magnificent palace. Whatever might be their destination, the stones were admirably cut. In our day the Calvanistic missionaries have employed them in building the great church at Kailua, without any necessity for cutting them anew. The hewn stones of Umi-” Pohaku kalai a Umi “-are to be seen at the present day scattered in different places. It is natural to suppose they used tools different from those of Hawaiian origin. Iron must have been known in the time of Umi, and its presence would be explained by wrecks of ships which the ocean currents might have drifted ashore. It is certain that it was known long before the arrival of Captain Cook, as is also shown by a passage from an old romance: “O luna, o lalo, kai, o uka, o ka hao pae, ko ke lii” i.e., “What is above, below the sea, the mountain, and the iron that drifts ashore, belong to the king.”

During Brannon Kamahana Kealoha’s cross-examination, Judge Heen testified, “Yes, I am aware [that] many, if not most or all Hawaiian people on the island, consider Mauna Kea sacred.”
Judge Heen testified that Stephanie Nagata from OMKM called him to testify in the hearing.
Kealoha prefacing his statement with intentions of no disrespect, pointing out that there were many questions Judge Heen was unable to answer or said he didn’t know throughout the cross-examination that day.
Kealoha went on to question Judge Heen on the reasons Native Hawaiian women were arrested during prayer in the middle of the night on the mountain in the summer of 2015.
Judge Heen said there are times when access may need to be denied or limited “with respeCt to preventing damage to the environment of Mauna Kea.”
“What kind of damage do praying women cause?” asked Kealoha.
Judge Heen stated, “I have no idea.”
Forced to tears with sadness AND anger. Respected Judge Heen ambivalently say, “it wasn’t a concern,’ and “I’m sure there are but I don’t know them” when asked if Heen, as director of Office of Mauna Kea Management, since its incpetion as required by the Master Plan decades ago, has treated our sacred interments without concern or recognition.
I began to involuntarily weep profusely. Kupuna, aumakua, Akua… they have not stopped replaying their intense, sharp, clear, and graphically audio experiences in my mind, spirit, heart and soul.
He Had NO REMORSE. Most would have at least expressed regret.
We could never have come this far without you and we are at the brink of finishing the job. But we are also every day jeopardized by this forceful, aggressive misuse of our conservation district and supremely sacred summit and need to make it to May 2016 to begin to beat Telescope developers bottom line projections. Your contribution is so important and forwards another day to this previously unreachable goal. THANK YOU SO MUCH. Go to “Sacred Mauna Kea Hui – He Makahiapo Kapu Na Wakea” on FB and SacredMaunaKea.com for updates and join the conversation. See our YouTube, Vimeo and Ustreams at Sacred Mauna Kea- MAHALO AND ALOHA AINA
We will not be able to continue soon without your help:

6 responses to “KAPU: Do not rearrange stones, build rock piles, or otherwise disturb the terrain!

  1. Never thought about the two being interconnected. I still don’t understand, and perhaps you could clarify, how pieces of the mountain being removed and shipped off, never to be returned, could be ok. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I also want to say, that I am not pro/anti anything, I just want to better understand.


    • Well it’s a good thing you don’t practice this cultural and spiritual practice! It would be ethnocentric of you to impose and dictate another culture’s spiritual practices and decide for them- a culture that is not yours that you are indoctrinated and formally trained in face to face- what the specific mores and values are.

      Perhaps you would do well to not dictate another culture. Perhaps also it would be best if your lack of understanding has nothing to do with what these practices are. And perhaps your lack of understanding is not something that we need to refer to to have our rights to worship, like yours, protected?

      Thank goodness your lack of understanding is not a stipulation that we need to remedy, assuming that there is a way to MAKE you understand.

      Disapproval of those who are of another culture doesn’t strip a people of their right to worship.

      What makes you think you have a right to understand the undefinable and omnipotent religious practice that includes and differentiates between pohaku harvesting and pohaku that function as vessels for deities? As a practitioner my understanding is that this is blasphemy as mere man could never attempt to define the omnipotence that is a God power.

      I mean it’s this simple: Akua Pohaku and Adze Quarry? They are different distinct practices.

      It’s a good thing that someone like you who may or may not think its ok to dictate and judge another culture’s practices, doesn’t get to be the judge or jury for a culture you are ignorant of and most certainly asking us to define the undefinable is coercion. Namely to provide the knowledge you lack to receive the same equality that perhaps you receive, without the oppressive and non-justified discrimination and improper jurisdiction of a person ignorant of such practices.

      Thank you for this great example of ethnocentric, mistaken burden of proof that surely is the foundation of ethnocide that we are facing now.


  2. While I have read this article in its entirety and find it genuinely interesting, my following comment is in reference to the first paragraph only. Isn’t it a bit hypocritical to say that building a telescope on Mauna Kea will desecrate the very mountain that the Hawaiian people used to mine? Furthermore, mentioning trading of the rocks mined on Mauna Kea seems to show that, at least in this case, economical interests were of higher priority than spiritual interests. Even if that is not the case, how can the mining of Mauna Kea and the trading (selling) of parts of the mountain itself not be seen as an atrocity in its own right? How do you propose to resolve this contradiction in your argument?


    • Spiritual and “economics” as you know it today we’re not secular. So no. The hypocritical part is this: how can an endangered species zone set aside for protection be industrialized instead. Also hypocritical is this- the DLNR and Stare have no clear title.

      Remember now spiritual and economical is not separate in Hawaiian culture. That makes a huge difference because “economy” in my culture has nothing to do with exploitation, stolen lands and destroying an endangered species environment and cannot be compared with a 1.4 billion dollar project being built in a so-called conservation and endangered species environment. Harvesting your natural resources in a sustainable and environmentally safe and clean way has nothing to do with the 10,000 gallon container of trash and 5,000 gallon container of toxic waste being placed 20 feet underground.

      Let us also not diminish the fact that TMT project as circumvented the law- look up the current Supreme Court case and you will see that holding development accountable for breaking laws set in place to protect natural resources should concern everyone.


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