Hawaiian culture, Hawaiian people and all who visit these islands will greatly benefit from an understanding of Hawaiian ancestral knowledge. A deeper understanding of the past, helps create a culturally prosperous future – essential in the evolution of a prideful, flourishing society
Thus, significant ancient sites are being preserved and restored all across Hawaii. One such place is at the ahupuaa (a land division marked by a heap of stones) of Kahaluu on the Big Island, where the local resort has embarked upon the restoration of two important heiau; the Keeku and Hapaialii. These heiau were at the center of an alii center, a royal center – a place where the young alii were brought to be developed or where leaders convened to make weighty decisions. A heiau was a pre-Christian place of worship for early Hawaiians. Some of these sacred shrines were elaborately constructed stone platforms and others were simply earthen terraces. Each heiau could be used for a different purpose, from a place for treating the sick to a place where fruits were offered to guarantee further good growth. Some heiau were shrines to ensure success in battle and others were used for human sacrifice. Many of these sites have been obscured by development and ravaged over time, requiring extensive research and restoration.
The Hapaialii heiau at Kahaluu was built on a pahoehoe lava flow that is covered by the sea at high tide and is thought to be much older than the nearby Keeku heiau. The Hapailaii heiau has been carbon-dated to be from the early 1400’s and was a stone-constructed platform heiau and only used for prayers. At very low tide, petroglyphs carved into the pahoehoe may be visible.
Traditional stories say that Chief Kamalalawalu of Maui, trying to invade, was defeated by Lonoikamakahiki and sacrificed at the Keeku heiau. Under the guidance of Hawaiian experts, both heiau have been undergoing careful restoration. The Hapailaii heiau restoration is now complete and work continues on the nearby Keeku heiau.
Both heiau may be viewed from the south end of the Keauhou Beach Resort.