Kalani Paiʻea Wohi o Kaleikini Kealiʻikui Kamehameha o ʻIolani i Kaiwikapu kauʻi Ka Liholiho Kūnuiākea
There are differing versions of Kamehameha’s birth, between 1736 and 1737. Another record states he may have been born when Halley’s Comet traveled over the Hawaiian skies in the year 1758. As that story goes … a great ruler would be born the night a fiery light flashed threw the sky with feathers like a bird. That child would grow-up a fierce warrior, great chief, diplomat and leader, the first unified ruler. He would conquer most of the Hawaiian Islands formally establishing the Kingdom of Hawai’i in 1810… King Kamehameha I, Kamehameha The Great.
Prophecy has it, a Kahuna (High Priest) declared one who moves the 7,000-pound Naha Stone would be the one to unite the islands and become the greatest king of Hawai’i. As a teenager, Kamehameha not only moved the massive rock, but lifted it and turned it completely over.
Unifying the islands came at a price. There were many vicious battles, thousands of native Hawaiians lost their lives. Olowalu Massacre and the Battle of Nu’uanu were two significant battles in Kamehameha’s quest.
During a raid to conquer Puna, Kamehameha slipped and got his foot caught between lava rocks and was unable to defend himself. One of his fleeing opponents, a local fisherman returned to beat him on the head with a canoe paddle until it broke. Kamehameha was stunned and left for dead allowing the fisherman to escape unharmed. Twelve years later, the same fisherman was brought before Kamehameha for punishment. King Kamehameha instead blamed himself for attacking innocent people, setting the fisherman free. As a result, Kamehameha declared new law, Mamalahoe Kanawai, or “Law of the Splintered Paddle,” providing protection to unarmed noncombatants in war. “Let the aged, men and women, and little children, lie down safely in the road,” he decreed.
Kamehameha took several steps to ensure the islands remained a united realm keeping it protected from colonial powers, even after his death. He unified the legal system, and promoted trade with Europe and the United States. Kamehameha did not allow non-Hawaiians to own land; this prohibition remained in place until the Great Māhele of 1848.
Kamehameha The Great reigned over the Hawaiian Islands from July 1782 until his death in May 1819. His burial site remains a mystery.