Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Water Baby

I was pleased to learn that Ka’ahumanu, the fiery chiefess who remained Kamehameha the Greats favorite wife for forty years is having a birthday. Born in Hana, Maui into the royal Ali’i class on March 17, 1777, she served as the inspiration for the heroine in my historical novel Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawaii. Through the eyes of young Wai-nani a passionate, athletic, brave woman you learn what the dynamics of the Hawaiian culture were when the explorer Captain James Cook stumbled upon the Islands in 1778.

Wai-nani, like Ka’ahumanu, is a “water baby” finding sustenance and solace in the sea. Her best friend is a dolphin named Eku who once saved her from drowning. Her world is molded by the powerful forces of moana the grand and vibrant sea, the voices whispering in the winds off the velvet green see cliffs lining the shore and the violent eruptions of volcanoes, and the gods in every rock flower and tree. She rebels against the 2000-year old kapu system that called for human sacrifice and harsh penalties for those who broke the laws.

A controversial figure in history some remember Ka’ahumanu as the loving mother of the people. She was a master in healing, knowledgeable about the native plants used as medicines. A supremely humane woman she helped, and stood up for the common people. But, as she was instrumental in bringing down the kapu system and the burning of the gods, many Hawaiians remember her as “the flaw that brought down the chiefdom.”

It pleases me to know that Ka’ahumanu is being honored by the royal Hawaiian society with a program of songs, history and lei draping at the statue of the great Chiefess on Maui for her birthday. Since I can’t be there for her celebration, I am writing this entry in the name of Ka’ahumanu, a woman I believe embodied female empowerment and was a forerunner to the modern woman.


  1. One of the best trips I ever took was to Hawaii. The scenery is beautiful. Maui, at the time, was less commercialized than the main island and I loved driving through and seeing the natives walking about and working in their environment.

  2. Ka’ahumanu sounds like she was a modern, independent woman with a very interesting story. And Hawaii is such a beautiful backdrop for your book.

    Happy Friday,
    Allison Maslan

  3. Linda,
    I enjoyed reading what you posted about K'ahumanu. There is so much about Hawaiian culture that is not common knowledge.
    Thanks for bringing this to our attention!
    Karen/Folkheart Press

  4. Linda, I love reading about other cultures. While Hawaii may be part of the United States, it is so rich and different. I can't wait to read your book.

  5. What an interesting plot: exotic location, mysterious and powerful woman who is adored by some and hated by others, rich and vibrant culture, all wrapped up in a story. Can't wait to read the book.

  6. Dear Linda,

    I think there must be water-baby-goddesses in every culture. Each has her own story, but carries the essential qualities of the ocean: fludity in motion with overwhelming strength.

    To have this water goddesses story linked with a place, historical event, the power of women, and performance culture is a significant contribution.

    Janet Riehl

  7. Aloha! My husband and I were in Hawaii last summer - well, he's actually still about half way there! We are scheming for a move there too! We were lucky to meet some locals and went their Sunday Night Ukelele jam session and hula! thanks for the memories and history.

  8. Ka'ahumanu sounds like a strong, independent woman who was ahead of her time. No wonder she inspired your main character in your book. My only trips to Hawaii have been the armchair variety, either through books or travelogues on TV; but it is one place I would love to have seen in person. Glad to have met you through the blog chain. -- Donna B. Russell, Creative Muse Journal

  9. I had no idea the Hawaiians ever sacrificed people. Always pictured them as gentle. Very interesting portrait you paint of this outstanding woman.

  10. Very interesting, thank you for such a great story! Jess