Posted in North America | June 15, 2010 | 1

Most of you may have never thought of Hawaii as being a place of historical interest, right? With all due respect, we take great pleasure in proving you wrong while we give you one more Historical park to visit amidst the sun and sand!

Pu`uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Hawaii is one of those places that speaks volumes about the history it carries with it. Shut the world out, close your eyes, and listen – carefully! The stone walls have stories to tell; stories that they have preserved for years and years together. Welcome to the world where mystical truths of the yester-years meet the truths of today!

The Park is a haven for the native wildlife that has continued to live here, sole witnesses to the eras gone by.


Ali’i is the hereditary chiefly rank/class of traditional Hawaiian society. They were said to govern with divine power called the ‘mana’. The Ali’i were said to be the ones who introduced the ‘Kapu’ (taboo) system around 1,000 years ago. This, in turn, meant that the Ali’i had descended from the gods and their power was governed by the supreme. Thus, all that the Ali’i's possessed were Kapu (taboo to the others). Breaking Kapu would not be easily forgiven, since it was seen as a direct insult to the gods. Punishment by death was seen as the only punishment deemed worthy of such a crime.

Seemingly minor mistakes, like gazing at a chief or letting your shadow be cast upon the same ground that the chief had walked upon, would be seen as befitting a death penalty. Those who broke Kapu had only one chance of surviving. They’d have to escape from the warriors who were at their tail; and get to the ‘pu`uhonua’, which worked as a place of refuge for Kapu breakers. Here, the culprits could be purified by a priest (kahuna) by undergoing various ceremonies. After being purified, they could return home.

The Pu`uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Hawaii

On entering the park, the great walls rise up, saluting you. These served the purpose of being the boundaries between the royal grounds and the sanctuary. Many ki’i (carved wooden images) surround the Hale o Keawe, the structure that houses the bones of the chiefs. They were the ones who infused the area with the power of their mana. This was the sacred ground that Kapu breakers had to reach in order to be saved.

On visiting this place, the first feeling to hit you is that the place is filled with the essence of peace and forgiveness. This makes for a special feeling; and knowing the history does help enhance the experience.


Honu is Hawaiian for ‘sea turtle’. It was, however, once upon a time, used specifically in reference to the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. These are commonly found in the coves of Pu`uhonua o Honaunau, Hawaii; or can be seen basking around the shores of the mainland. Some of the honus are over 3 feet in length; and are quite the hit with families who visit the Park.


The image of Kapu ki’i, the wooden carving that adorns the entrance to the royal grounds, are reborn every generation as the master will carve out a new image to replace the old image. As if today, the resident craftsman Charlie Grace of the Hawaii Natural History Association is carving out a new image to relieve the older one that has stood upright as a witness all these years. If you visit the Park, you might get a chance to watch Grace as he literally carves the past out onto that wooden log.

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