Kalaniʻōpuʻu was a Hawaiian monarch, the 6th Aliʻi (chief) of Kohala, 4th Aliʻi of the Kona district and 2nd Aliʻi of the Kaʻū district on the island of Hawaiʻi.

Kalaniʻōpuʻu was the king of Hawai’i Island during the times Captain James Cook came to Hawaiʻi and went aboard his ship in November 1778. Cook once again anchored at Kealakekua Bay in January 1779, Kalaniʻōpuʻu paid a ceremonial visit and exchanged gifts including a ceremonial ʻahuʻula (feathered cloak) and mahiole (feathered helmet). Cook was greeted with great honor, as his arrival coincided with the Makahiki season, a festival celebrating the yearly harvest while worshiping Lono, the Hawaiian God of fertility, agriculture, rainfall, music and peace.

Cook’s ships set sail, but had returned to Kealakekua mid February 1779 to repair a storm damaged ship. This time relations were not as good, the festival season had ended and the season for battle and war had begun under the worship and rituals for Kūkaʻilimoku, the God of War. While anchored in Kealakekua Bay, one of Cook’s two long boats was stolen by the Hawaiians, openly challenging the foreigners. In retaliation, Cook tried to kidnap Kalaniʻōpuʻu, aliʻi nui of Hawai’i. Hostility between the Hawaiians and foreign sailors led to a bloodshed battle on the shores of Kealakekua Bay resulting in a violent struggle and Cook’s death.

Kalaniʻōpuʻu was succeeded by his son, Kīwalaʻō, as king of Hawaiʻi island; and his nephew, Kamehameha I, who was given guardianship of Kūkaʻilimoku, the god of war. His nephew would eventually overthrow his son at the battle of Mokuʻōhai. The island of Hawaiʻi was then effectively divided into three parts: his nephew Kamehameha ruled the western districts, his younger son Keōua Kuahuula controlled Kaʻū, and his brother Keawemauhili controlled Hilo. Kalaniʻōpuʻu nephew, Kamehameha I would eventually conquer the entire island then continue to unite the entire Hawaiian Island chain.

Kalaniʻōpuʻu-a-Kaiamamao (c. 1729 – April 1782)

Videos below are of the original ʻahuʻula (feathered cloak) and mahiole (feathered helmet) which once belonged to Kalaniʻōpuʻu in 1779.

This is the feathered mahiole (helmet) that was worn on high chief #Kalaniopuu's head more than 200 years ago.

Posted by Office of Hawaiian Affairs on Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The mahiole and 'ahu 'ula of #Kalaniopuu are on their way home!

Posted by Office of Hawaiian Affairs on Thursday, March 10, 2016