Kaupeepee-nui-kauila Prince of Molokai, the son of Kamauaua, king of Molokai, appears in Hawaiian legends. Probably the best-known was his elopement with Hina, queen of Hilo, this being one of the immediate causes of the a series of wars with the son's of Hina. He was the Hawaiian Paris and Hina was the Hawaiian Helen and their story is dramatic record of the love and hate, wrong and revenge, courage and custom, passion and superstition, of mythical times. [Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. p. 69.] Their story dates to the 12th century A.D., 2400 years after the fall of Troy.

Early Life

He was the eldest son of Kamauaua. He was a warlike youth, well skilled in arms and mighty in strength and courage. He had been raised from infancy to hate the southern chiefs of the second migratory group from the Society Islands. So profound was his detestation of the alien chiefs that he resolved to devote his life to such warfare as he might be able to make upon them and their subjects. [Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. p. 72.]

The Walls of Haupu

With this view he relinquished his right his right of succession to his younger brother Keoloewa, and gathered around him a band of warriors partaking of his desperation and courage, established a stronghold on the promontory of Haupu, on the north side of the island, between Pelekunu and Waikolo. At that point, and for some miles on each side of it, the mountains hug the ocean so closely as to leave nothing between them and the surf-beaten shores but a succession of steep, narrow and rugged promontories jutting out into the sea, and separated from each other by gorge-like and gloomy little valleys gashing the hill. Haupu was one of the most rugged of these was Haupu. It was a natural fortress fronting the sea at a height of 500 feet or more, and flanked on the right and left by almost perpendicular declivities rising from narrow gulches choked with vegetation and sweetening the sea with rivulets of fresh water dashing down from the mountains seamed by their sources. It was connected with the mountain ranges behind it by narrow and rising ridge, and which at a point something less than a mile inland, where opposite branches of the two flanking gulches approach each other closely. The summit of the point abutting the ocean was a comparatively level plateau, or rather series of three connecting terraces, embracing in all an area of nearly a hundred acres. Surrounded on three sides by almost perpendicular walls, and accessible on the fourth side by a narrow and easily-defended ridge extending to the mountains, little engineering was required to render the place well-nigh impregnable. [Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. p. 72-73.]

Setting himself earnestly to the task, he soon transformed the promontory of Haupu into one of the strongest fortresses in all the group. He surrounded the plateau with stone walls overlooking the declivity, and across the narrow neck leading to the mountains raised a rock barrier ten feet in thickness and twenty feet in height, around which aggression from without was rendered impractical by the excavation of precipices leading to, and in vertical line with, the ends of the wall. Instead of a gate, subterranean passage way led under the walls, the inside entrance being covered in times of danger with a huge flat stone resting on rollers. [Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. p. 73.]

Although the passage was rough and in unfavorable weather attended with danger, canoes could enter the mouths of both gulches and be hauled up beyond the reach of the waves, and beyond the reach of enemies as well; for above the entrance, and completely commanding them, frowned the broad battlements of Haupu, from which might be hurled hundreds of tons of rocks and other destructive missiles. With ingenuity and great labor narrow foot-paths were cut leading from the middle terrace to both gulches, some distance above their openings, and affording a means of entering and leaving the fortress by water. There paths connected with the terrace through narrow pass-ways under the walls, and a single arm could defend them against a host. [Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. p. 73-74.]

Within the walls buildings were erected capable of housing in time of emergency two or three thousand soldiers. On the lower terrace, occupied by Kaupeepee and his household, including his influential friends and captains, a small heiau, overlooking the sea, with a priest and two or three assistants in charge. From the fortress mountain-paths led to Kalaupapa and other productive parts of the island. As fish was abundant, and Kaupeepee and many of his follower controlled taro and other lands in the valley and beyond, it was seldom that the stronghold was short of food, even when foraging expeditions to the neighboring islands failed. [Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. p. 74.]

The Pillages of Kaupeepee

Kaupeepee and his band of warrior would pillage and plundered around the islands of Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, and sometimes in a spirit of bravado, Kauai. They would sail afloat with hundred or more canoes and filled them with their choicest plunders. Women were sometimes the booty desired by these buccaneers, and during their raids many a screaming beauty was seized and borne to their stronghold on Molokai, where in most instances she was so kindly treated that she soon lost all desires to be liberated. Occasionally they were followed, if the wind was unfavorable to their retreat, by hastily-equipped fleets of canoes. If they were allowed to be overtaken it was for the amusement of driving back their pursuers; but as a rule they escaped pursuit or punishment, leaving their victims in ignorance alike of the source and motive of the assault. Once and Oahu chief landed on Molokai, in his pursuit of Kaupeepee and his crew, and spoke to the King Kamauaua who grimly directed the chief to stronghold of Haupu and told him to punish them if he could. The Oahu chief failed, and after a shower of rocks from above destroyed a number of his ships, he fled with his fleet back to Oahu, never to land again on the shores of Haupu. [Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. p. 74-75.] From afar Kamauaua had watched the failed assaults on the promontory. To congratulate his son, he gave him a feather cloak, right to the royal fishponds, and a barge that was the largest one of its kind in the archipelago at the time. He was delighted with the present of the barge the most. It gave him one of the largest vessels in all the eight Hawaiian seas and rendered him especially formidable in sea-encounters. He painted the sails red and the hull to the water-line and from the masthead flung a saucy pennon to the breeze, surmounted by a kahili. He provided a large crew of oarsmen and made a more secure landing for it in one of the openings near the fortress. With this near addition to his fleet he made it known to all on the neighbouring coasts of Oahu and Maui to fear the red sail of Kaupeepee. Being a religious man, he erected a huge idol of Moaalii, the shark-god of Molokai and patron of fishermen and mariners. This idol overlooked the ocean from the north wall of the heiau of Haupu, and leis of fresh flowers adorned its shoulder whenever a dangerous expedition departed or returned. One occasions this god guided Kaupeepee to Haupu during a dark and rainy night, and on another had capsized of Oahuan war-canoes that cleverly separated him from his fleet in the Pailolo Channel. [Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. p. 75-77.] These plunders brought food, women, and adventure for Kaupeepee and his men. But he was inspired by a motive higher than just mere plunder. He despised the southern chiefs and their successors, and his assaults were confined strictly to the territories over which they ruled. His sole aim was to inflict injury upon them, and the spoils of his expedition were divided amongst his followers. Brave, generous, sagacious, he was worshipped by his people, and treason, with them, was a thing unthought of. It was indeed a wild and reckless life that Kaupeepee and his daring associates led; but it lacked neither excitement abroad nor amusement at home. On the upper terrace a kahua channel had been cut, along which they rolled the maika and three blunted darts. They played konane, puhenehene, and punipeki, and at surfing they possessed experts of both sexes who had no equal in any of the islands. The people of the valleys were friendly with the dashing buccaneers, and the fairest damsels became their wives, some living with their husband at Haupu, and others with their relatives in the valley. [Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. p. 77.]

Hina, The Helen of Hawaii

This fortress was as impregnable as the Trojan Walls in its day. From the stronghold Kaupeepee sailed forth in search of adventures, possibly plunder, and on one of his excursions off the coast of Hilo he saw and became enamoured of the beautiful Hina, daughter of the Tahitian sorceress Uli, and the wife of Hakalanileo, nephew of Paumakua of Maui. Uli had predicted the peril that lie ahead for her daughter and had asked her son-in-law to guard her with all his care might she be taken. Kaupeepee had heard of the beauty of Hina, and resolved to see with his own eyes what the bards had exalted in songs. Travelling overland from Puna in disguise, he reach her home in Hilo, and saw that the poet had done her no more than justice. She was a beauty indeed and a wife to his undying enemy. Returning to the coast of Puna, where his barge laid in wait for him, he hovered around the coast of Hilo for a few days, waiting for a chance to seize the woman of his dreams. The time came at sunset, when Hina and her retainers were bathing in the surfs. His canoe dashed through the waves and he seized the nude and frantic Hina in his arms. The canoe, with the sobbing queen aboard, sailed for the fortress of Haupu. [Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. p. 78-79.]

The journey home occupied a little more than two days. During the time Hina mourned continuously and ate nothing. Kaupeepee had treated her with the utmost respect and kindness; but she was bewildered by the shock of her abduction, and begged to be killed or returned to her family. By morning the party had reach Haupu and Hina was placed in apartments on the lower terrace and accommodated with all the comfort and luxury known to the greatest nobility at the time. Declining food, Hina lay down and rest for hours. When she awoken, she recollected the three days prior and she knew mourning would not help. [Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. p. 79-80.]

After partaking in breakfast, she asked for an audience with Kaupeepee. He had expected a storm of tear and reproach, but was agreeably mistaken. The queen rose, bowed and waited for the chief to speak. He asked for her desires. Hina desired for her freedom. “Impossible!” he replied. The prince told Hina of his love for her and that he had risked his life by journeying to the lands of his enemy to catch a glimpse of her, the most beautiful woman in Hawaii. Hina was but a woman, and of a race and times when the promptings of the heart were not fettered by the rules of propriety. Kaupeepee was the handsome son of a king, and his praise was not unpleasant to Hina’s ears. She therefore bent her head to the floor while he added: [Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. p. 80-81.]

"“Hina would think little of the man who risked his life to possess himself of such a woman, and then kill and cast her off as not worth the keeping. You are like no other woman; I am not like no other man. Such a companionship has the approval of the gods, and you will leave Haupu only when its walls shall have been battered down and Kaupeepee lies dead among the ruins!”" [Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. p. 81.]

The frightened and astounded Hina had no words to say, and she consented to remain a prisoner within the walls of Haupu. After this Hina soon forgot her imprisonment and Kaupeepee’s love soon wooed her thoughts from the past and made sweet the bondage he shared with her. [Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. p. 81.] So skillfully laid were the plans of Kaupeepee, and so well executed, that the bereaved husband was for a long time ignorant of what had become of his wife or who was her abductor. He travelled over Hawaii and Maui, seeking and inquiring, but got no tidings of the lost one. [Fornander, p. 31]

The Fall of Haupu

Years rolled on, and the young sons of Hina, having grown up to manhood, took up the search which their father had abandoned. These sons were called Kana and Niheu-Kalohe. They are said to have been instructed by their grandmother, Uli, in all the arts of sorcery and witchcraft, for which the southern immigrants were noted and feared by the previous inhabitants of the Hawaiian group. The sons soon discovered where their mother was kept captive, and measures were taken for her liberation. Kaupeepee was warned by his Kaula, or prophet, Moi, the brother of Nuakea, the wife of his brother Keoloewa, that bad days were approaching, and that the sons of Hina were coming to the rescue of their mother. Secure in his mountain fastness, the chief scorned the advice and defied the sons of the outraged lady. The battles that followed are so mixed up with the fabulous and supernatural, that it is almost impossible to disentangle a thread of truth in the whole account. But of the result of the war there is no doubt whatever. By force, by stratagem, by treachery, or by all combined, [Fornander, p. 32] in the end the walls were breached by the armies of the two brothers and the slaughter was frightful. Kaupeepee and fifty or less of his followers were crowded, fighting step by step, into the lower terrace, thence the heiau, and finally to the temple as a last place of defense. The struggle was brief and the temple was set on fire, and as Kaupeepee and his faithful band sprang from the blazing building to die at the throat of their enemies they were struck down with their javelin in the air. A spear penetrated Kaupeepee’s breast. As a last act he poised his ihe to hurl at a helmeted warrior in the front. The chief was Niheu. He must of recognized him by his resemblance to Hina. "”Not for your sake, but for hers!”" exclaimed the dying chief, dropping his weapon and falling lifeless beside them. Not one of the defenders escaped but half of the opposing army perished. Hina was founded uninjured, and while there was great joy in her embrace of her sons and aged mother, she wept over Kaupeepee, who with his love had made love in her long imprisonment. The body of Moi and Kaupeepee were given to Keoloewa for burial. The walls of Haupu were leveled, never to be raised again, and Hina returned to her husband in Hilo, after a separation of 18 years, thus ends of the more romantic legends of early Hawaiian chivalry. [Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. p. 94.]

The embellishments of the marvels and of the skill and adroitness which adorn this legend, indicate that the form it now possesses was given to it in much later times, probably during the period of Hawaiian intellectual activity which characterised the nearly contemporary reigns of the Kawelos on Kauai, the Kakuhihewas of Oahu, the Kamalalawalu of Maui, and the Keawenuiaumi of Hawaii and his children, when so many, his children, when so many of the old traditions and still older myths received a new dress and a new circulation among the court circles and the commonalty of those days. [Fornander, p. 32]



* Kalakaua, His Hawaiian Majesty. "The Legends And Myths of Hawaii: The Fable and Folk-lore of a Strange People." Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Company Inc. of Rutland, Vermont & Tokyo Japan, 1972.
*Abraham Fornander, An Account of the Polynesian Race: Its Origin and Migrations, Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1969.

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