Thus far in our series we have looked at three great rulers in ancient Hawai‘i: Ma‘ilikūkahi, Manōkalanipō and ‘Umialīloa. Today we turn to Pi‘ilani of Maui, a leader who remains famous to this day for his goodness, his fairness and for the peace that existed during his reign in the 1500s. Here is UH Mānoa Professor Lilikalā Kame‘eleihiwa.
“The Lāhainā side, which was often its own kingdom, and the Hāna side, which often was its own kingdom, came together under Pi‘ilani. The political administration that he brought really made for a peaceful time and so Maui a Pi‘ilani he’s called that because people remember how wonderful that time was.”
Pi‘ilani is also famed for the great road he began, the Ala Hele.
“It could fit eight people across and it was built to go around the island. Building that highway was very important to bringing peace and allowing people to meet one another more frequently but also to share in food.”
The massive temple that honors Pi‘ilani, the Pi‘ilanihale heiau in Hāna, was built by his son, Kihapi‘ilani, and is one of the largest temples in the Pacific.
“That temple tells the priests when is the best time to plant. Those temples that have one wall zero north are temples that help us understand the movement of the sun through the sky. So Pi‘ilanihale incorporates that ancient knowledge of the celestial time.”