Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hawaiian Heiau

My "H" topic has been difficult to choose so I will touch on several. The first will be "heiau." Heiau are pre-Christian places of worship that are found throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

The Hawaiians who originally settled on the islands were peaceful people with few ceremonial rules and no human sacrifice system. In approximately 1300 A.D. a powerful and ruthless chief/ruler named Pa'ao came from Tahiti and conquered the Hawaiians. According to Daniel Kikawa, citing other sources, Pa'ao took over both the priestly and royal roles. On page 142 of his book,
Perpetuated in Righteousness, Kikawa writes this:

"To consolidate his power, Pa'ao instituted human sacrifices and changed the Hawaiians' religious rituals. He built the first luakini (human sacrifice) heiau (temple) on the Big Island (Hawai'i) at Waha'ula. Fornander wrote that "...there was a time before that, when human sacrifices were not only not of common occurrence, and an established rule, but were absolutely prohibited. Kapu ke kanaka na Kane, 'sacred is the man to Kane'..."
"Pa'ao instituted the oppressive kapu (tapu or taboo) system and the worship of elemental spirit gods such as Pele. Fornander says that Pele worship in Hawai'i is only subsequent to this migratory period. The Pele cult was unknown to the purer faith of the older inhabitants and her name does not even appear in the creation accounts."
On page 144 he continues:
"What most people today regard as the religious system of the old Hawaiian people, was not their true religion - it was a foreign religion introduced by the invader Pa'ao."
I'll write more about the god the original Hawaiians worshiped in my entry for Monday and more about Pa'ao on "P" day.

The Hawaiian people endured much suffering and bondage under Pa'ao's religious system. As part of  that system, laws and kapu (taboos) governed all activities and commoners were frequently sacrificed or used as shark bait for breaking these taboos. Women for instance, were not allowed to eat bananas and no commoner was allowed to even set foot on the land belonging to the ruling class. (I'm citing Kikawa again.)

It was a dark time in the history of Hawai'i.

On one of our trips to Hawai'i, we visited many of the churches and heiau and other historically important landmarks as we made our way around the Big Island, praying and worshiping our Lord. Toward the end of this visit, we began asking God whether there were any other places He wanted us to go. We read in a guidebook about Mo'okini Heiau and it said it was a place that would give anyone the "heebie-jeebies." We weren't so sure we wanted to go to a place like that, but we were willing to if that was His direction. So we prayed and that night we felt a great peace about going there. It was one of the most isolated and desolate places we have ever experienced. As we arrived, other tourists were leaving so my husband and I were the only ones there. We sensed an aura of victory over the oppressive darkness that had ruled in that place for so many centuries. We marched, sang, prayed and declared the victory and presence of the true and living God over that place and over Hawai'i. We sensed that God had released a measure of authority for us to do this since we had lost our son in the nearby Kohala Mountains. (We tell that story in our book, Aloha is Forever.)

This is a picture of Mo'okini Heiau taken by John Fisher. We took many photos also which don't seem to be on our computer. I will try to scan a few of our own and include them later.

Mo'okini Heiau had been built of volcanic stones that are said to have been passed from hand to hand from the Pololu Valley, over 14 miles away and the starting point of our son's hike. It is said that the temple was completed in one night. It is also the largest of all of the heiau in Hawai'i, about the size of a football field. We saw the smooth, hollowed out stone that was used in the hundreds or even thousands of human sacrifices that were done there, as well as the altars where fresh offerings of flowers, produce, etc. had recently been placed. We left, feeling we had completed that for which God had sent us there.

My other "H" topics were "Hilo," "helicopters," and "Hope 1 transformed into Hope 2." Since this entry turned out to be so long, I'll just mention them and go back to each of them after the A to Z Challenge is over.

Have you ever visited a Hawaiian heiau?


  1. I would love to visit Hawaii - even more so now after learning a bit about its history! Very interesting.

  2. Hawaii is one place I have never been and somehow I don't think we will be able to take the RV there. Hopefully when we are on the West Coast we can take some time and fly over. I look forward to stopping your way and interviewing you when we get to Texas although I know it's still a pretty long way off.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts.