Was it just a coincidence that the Maui Beach Hotel where I was staying sits on Kahalui Bay where Kamehameha landed in the late 1790 with his armada of Alapa warriors? From the beach at the hotel, I can see the mouth of the impregnable Wailuku Valley backed by steep cliffs and the primordial Iao needle piercing clouds hovering on its flank. .
I tried to imagine the scene. Hundreds of warriors landing in double-hulled outriggers wearing the red malos of war, carrying spears and short knives. They trampled over the Mauin forces that met them at this beach and then marched “onward to Wailuku” several miles inland to defeat Kahikili, Kamehameha’s arch rival for power over the Islands. They rolled Lopeka, a cannon seized from a western sloop, up the rocky trail until they backed the Mauin forces into a corner at Wailuku. The slaughter that ensued was harsh even for the time.
Was it just chance that Kona Winds literally blew me off the beach at Paia yesterday and forced me to the venture to the sheltered valley? When I arrived, the iconic Iao needle normally obscured by thick clouds flashed a brilliant green spotlighted by afternoon sun. The sheer 3,000- foot-pali that protect the valley sheathed in thick blue-green verdure are impossible to climb. Water whispers sweetly through taro ponds with rust-red ti leaves on the edges creating an Eden-like setting for a Hawaiian village.
It seemed a guiding force brought me here to witness the glory of this valley. Was it the spirit of Ka’hahumnu who wanted me to know the beauty of this place haunted by the ghosts of so many brave warriors? Was she trying to help me get the Hawaiian story right? I like to think so.