Kapa: More to Learn
See all eleven kapa Pua Van Dorpe created to honor ancient Maui chiefs, and read their stories.
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The clubhouse at the King Kamehameha Golf Course in Waikapu is one of the few public places on Maui where you can see kapa created by living-legend Pua Van Dorpe. Commissioned for the club’s Hawaiian-themed art collection, these eleven keiki kapa moe (baby blankets) each honor a Maui chief, who would have received a personal pattern at birth, identifying his lineage. Our thanks to King Kamehameha for permission to feature these kapa, and the accompanying text, on our website.
The 12th and 13th centuries A.D. were a period of chiefly migrations to the Hawaiian Islands from central Polynesia. The migratory chiefs included Huanuikalala‘ila‘i and Paumakua-a-Huanuikalala‘ila‘i, grandfather and father, respectively, of Haho, who was presumably Maui-born.
Haho’s grandfather was an independent and warlike ruler of Hana. With his huge warfleet, he plundered the coasts of Moloka‘i and Hawai‘i Island, and was the aggressor in the earliest remembered war between Maui and Hawai‘i.
In Haho’s lifetime, Maui’s various districts were ruled by independent chiefs. Haho deserves recognition as the founder of the ‘Aha Ali‘i, Maui’s first Council of Chiefs, designed to consolidate power as “a protection of the native aristocracy against foreign pretenders.” The council lasted until Maui’s conquest by Kamehameha the Great, some five-and-a-half centuries later.
In the late 1300s, the warlike and ambitious ruling chief of the Ka‘u District of Hawai‘i Island embarked on the first recorded campaign of Hawaiian interisland conquest. His name was Kalaunuiohua—a direct ancestor of that famous conqueror from the Big Island, Kamehameha the Great.
Kalaunuiohua, his warriors and invasion fleet assaulted Maui’s defenses where Kamaluohua was principal chief and defender. Kamaluohua was defeated and taken along as prisoner, as Kalaunuiohua swept up the island chain, overcoming opposition on Moloka‘i and O‘ahu.
On Kaua‘i, however, Kalaunuiohua met his Waterloo. He was crushingly defeated, himself taken prisoner and only much later allowed to return to Ka‘u. Freed by Kaua‘i’s defenders, Kamaluohua returned safely to Maui.
Tradition says that while Kamaluohua ruled over the greater part of Maui, a vessel called Mamala arrived at Wailuku bearing light-colored foreigners with “bright, shining eyes”; one of several references to castaways who were in due time absorbed into the native Hawaiian population, chiefly and otherwise.