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ISLAND HISTORY: A visit to Hauola heiau in Hoea Valley, Kauai

I once hiked to Hauola he‘iau in Hoea Valley, Kaua‘i during the 1980s while I was residing in Kekaha.

Starting from Waiawa, I proceeded up to Hauola Ridge, which splits the terrain in two, with the mouth of Hoea Valley on the left and with Kahoana Valley to the right.

In Hoea Valley, I noticed several circular, man-made stone formations on the valley floor, each about 10 feet in diameter.

Around their circumferences were stones partly sunken into the earth.

Perhaps they were the remains of shrines, but I can only guess, since they’re not identified in Wendall C. Bennett’s definitive archaeological survey of Kaua‘i published in 1931.

Further along, I came to the Hauola he‘iau — a stone platform of two divisions measuring 76-by-97 and 113-by-136 feet built prior to Cook’s discovery in 1778.

According to Bennett, “The site is on a talus slope that extends upward from a stream gulch to the base of a ridge. The he‘iau is made of local stone, a reddish lava, some of which has been slightly water worn. Upstream from the structure is a natural amphitheater. Coral is found on the paving. The walls are well built of selected pieces carefully piled.”

While examining the he‘iau, which appeared as Bennett described it, I was careful not to disturb it.

The Hauola he‘iau is said to have been dedicated to the god of war, Ku, and human sacrifices were offered there to that god.

Eric Knudsen, Kaua‘i’s teller of Hawaiian tales, wrote, “According to tradition, when the temple was built, the King of Kaua‘i and his high priests who were to dedicate Hauola consulted the gods as to whether or not the time was auspicious for war. The fighting men of the community crowded into the valley, filling it from side to side. A sacrifice to Ku was made, and the high priest, after prolonged prayer and incantation, announced that the signs were favorable — war was to be declared.”

The he‘iau is also believed to have been used as a fort in 1804, when Kamehameha I threatened Kaua‘i with invasion.
Source: The Garden Island

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