Lei Ana Lâna`i - by Sam Kapu

Lei ana Lâna`i
I ke kauna`oa
Mehe kapa `ahu`ula
Kau po`ohiwi
Lâna`i is bedecked
With the kauna`oa
And a feather cloak
Placed on the shoulder


Source: Centuries ago, Lâna`i was thought to be under complete domination of evil spirits. Natives were afraid to visit and not much was known about the early history of the island. Legend says the King of Maui banished his nephew, son of the high chief of Lele (ancient name of Lahaina) to Lâna`i. Kaululaau, the young chief, was escorted across the 9 mile channel that separates Maui and Läna`i to serve his term. If he survived, he had to make a bon fire visible to the people of Lele. This would be the sign that he was ready to atone for his constant disobedience and take his place as a high chief of his people. Much time passed, hope for the young chief faded and the people began to grieve. One night, fire pierced the darkness of Läna`i and runners were sent to the people of Maui bringing news of Kaululaau's victory over the dark spirits. His return was celebrated with great joy and thanksgiving and his conquest of the supernatural opened the way for settlement of Läna`i. The Maui king divided Läna`i into 13 ahupua`a, 11 to chiefs of high rank: Kamoku, Kalulu, Kaunolu, Palawai, Kamao, Kaohai, Paawili, Maunalei, Mahana, Paoma`i and Ka`a. The high chiefs then portioned the ahupua`a to lesser chiefs and common people, who were required to use the land productively and pay taxes as required by the Maui king. Principal taxes were hogs, and is the basis for the name ahupua`a. Ahu is a place of storage or where things are piled up and pua`a is hog or pig. The other ahuapua`a were, Kealiaaupuni, the control center of the island, where taxes were collected, and Kealiakapu, the spirtual center and place of refuge, under the rule of the kahuna or priest. Keahialoa, the long lasting fire, is in the ahupua`a of Ka`a. Many years ago, old timers tell of a purple lehua (metrosideros) that grew only on Läna`i, the last tree growing in a forest that has since been destroyed by wild goats. The chief of this village was a very powerful kahuna named Kawelo whose arch rival was Lanikaula, the kahuna of Moloka`i. Kawelo noticed that many of his people seemed to be under a supernatural spell and ordered a meeting with the village elders. They proclaimed Lanikaula as the culprit. Messengers were sent across the channel by each of the kahunas and accusations, in the form of aku lele, directed at each other. The two kahunas decided to build a visible fire, without any assistance, and pray each other to death. The fire that went out first would signal the death of the kahuna of the respective island. Many months passed and one night the Moloka`i fire was seen no more. Kawelo, the Läna`i kahuna, announced the death of Lanikaula of Moloka`i. Kawelo had secretly sent his retainers to Moloka`i for the excrement of Lanikaula to burn on his bonfire. The smoke passed through the forest changing the red lehua to purple. Legend of the purple lehua told by Hua`i, Läna`i kupuna. See: Kaulana Moloka`i for their version of this legend