Ancient Hawaiʻi is the period of Hawaiian human history preceding the unification in 1810 of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi by Kamehameha the Great. Traditionally researchers estimated the first settlement of the Hawaiian islands by Polynesian long-distance navigators from French Polynesia, Tahiti, the Tuamotus and the Samoan Islands as having occurred sporadically between 300 and 800 CE. In 2010, a study was published based on radiocarbon dating of more reliable samples which suggests that the islands were settled much later, within a short timeframe, in about 1219 to 1266.
The islands in Eastern Polynesia have been characterized by the continuities among their cultures, and the short migration period would be an explanation of this result. Diversified agroforestry and aquaculture provided sustenance for Native Hawaiian cuisine. Tropical materials were adopted for housing. Elaborate temples (called heiau) were constructed from the lava rocks available.
The rich natural resources supported a relatively dense population, organized by a ruling class and social system with religious leaders. Captain James Cook made the first known European contact with ancient Hawaiians in 1778. He was followed by many other Europeans and Americans.
There have been changing views about initial Polynesian discovery and settlement of Hawai'i. Radiocarbon dating in Hawai'i initially indicated a possible settlement as early as 124 CE. Patrick Vinton Kirch's books on Hawaiian archeology, standard textbooks, date the first Polynesian settlements to about 300 with more recent suggestions by Kirch as late as 600. Other theories suggest dating as late as 700 to 800.
In 2010 researchers announced new findings using revised, high-precision radiocarbon dating based on more reliable samples than were previously used in many dating studies. This new data indicates that the period of eastern and northern Polynesian colonization took place much later, in a shorter time frame of two waves: the "earliest in the Society Islands c. 1025 – 1120, four centuries later than previously assumed; then after 70–265 y, dispersal continued in one major pulse to all remaining islands c. 1190 – 1290." According to this research, settlement of the Hawaiian Islands took place circa 1219–1266. This rapid colonization is believed to account for the "remarkable uniformity of East Polynesia culture, biology and language."
According to Hawaiian mythology, there were other settlers in Hawaiʻi, peoples who were forced back into remote valleys by newer arrivals. They claim that stories about menehune, little people who built heiau and fishponds, prove the existence of ancient peoples who settled the islands before the Hawaiians.
The colonists brought along with them clothing, plants (called "canoe plants") and livestock and established settlements along the coasts and larger valleys. Upon their arrival, the settlers grew kalo (taro), maiʻa (banana), niu (coconut), ulu (breadfruit), and raised puaʻa (pork), moa (chicken), and ʻīlio (poi dog), although these meats were eaten less often than fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Popular condiments included paʻakai (salt), ground kukui nut, limu (seaweed), and ko (sugarcane) which was used as both a sweet and a medicine. In addition to the foods they brought, the settlers also acquired ʻuala (sweet potato), The sweet potato is native to South America. Recently, an analysis of the DNA of 1,245 sweet potato varieties from Asia and the Americas was done. Researchers have found a genetic link that proves the root made it to Polynesia from the Andes around 1100 CE. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offer more evidence that ancient Polynesians may have interacted with people in South America long before the Europeans set foot on the continent.Article and Maps
The Pacific rat accompanied humans on their journey to Hawaiʻi. David Burney argues that humans, along with the vertebrate animals they brought with them (pigs, dogs, chickens and rats), caused many native species of birds, plants and large land snails to become extinct in the process of colonization.
Estuaries and streams were adapted into fishponds by early Polynesian settlers, as long ago as 500 CE or earlier. Packed earth and cut stone were used to create habitat, making ancient Hawaiian aquaculture among the most advanced of the original peoples of the Pacific. A notable example is the Menehune Fishpond dating from at least 1,000 years ago, at Alekoko. At the time of Captain James Cook's arrival, there were at least 360 fishponds producing 2,000,000 pounds (900,000 kg) of fish per year. Over the course of the last millennium, Hawaiians undertook "large-scale canal-fed pond field irrigation" projects for kalo (taro) cultivation.
The new settlers built hale (homes) and heiau (temples). Archaeologists currently believe that the first settlements were on the southern end of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi and that they quickly extended northwards, along the seacoasts and the easily accessible river valleys. As the population increased, settlements were made further inland. With the islands being so small, the population was very dense. Before European contact, the population had reached somewhere in the range of 200,000 to 1,000,000 people. After contact with the Europeans, however, the population steeply dropped due to various diseases including smallpox.
A traditional town of ancient Hawaiʻi included several structures. Listed in order of importance:
Ancient Hawaiʻi was a caste society developed from Polynesians. The main classes were:
Hawaiian youth learned life skills and religion at home, often with grandparents. For "bright" children  a system of apprenticeship existed in which very young students would begin learning a craft or profession by assisting an expert, or kahuna. As spiritual powers were perceived by Hawaiians to imbue all of nature, experts in many fields of work were known as kahuna, a term commonly understood to mean priest. The various types of kahuna passed on knowledge of their profession, be it in "genealogies, or mele, or herb medicine, or canoe building, or land boundaries," etc. by involving and instructing apprentices in their work. More formal schools existed for the study of hula, and likely for the study of higher levels of sacred knowledge.
The kahuna took the apprentice into his household as a member of the family, although often "the tutor was a relative". During a religious "graduation" ceremony, "the teacher consecrated the pupil, who thereafter was one with the teacher in psychic relationship as definite and obligatory as blood relationship."  Like the children learning from their grandparents, children who were apprentices learned by watching and participating in daily life. Children were discouraged from asking questions in traditional Hawaiian culture.
In Hawaiian ideology, one does not "own" the land, but merely dwells on it. The belief was that both the land and the gods were immortal. This then informed the belief that land was also godly, and therefore above mortal and ungodly humans, and humans therefore could not own land. The Hawaiians thought that all land belonged to the gods (akua).
On the death of one chief and the accession of another, lands were re-apportioned—some of the previous "managers" would lose their lands, and others would gain them. Lands were also re-apportioned when one chief defeated another and re-distributed the conquered lands as rewards to his warriors.
In practice, commoners had some security against capricious re-possession of their houses and farms. They were usually left in place, to pay tribute and supply labor to a new chief, under the supervision of a new konohiki, or overseer.
The ancient Hawaiians had the ahupuaʻa as their source of water management. Each ahupuaʻa had a sub-division of land from the mountain to the sea. The Hawaiians used the water from the rain that ran through the mountains as a form of irrigation. Hawaiians also settled around these parts of the land because of the farming that was done.
Religion held ancient Hawaiian society together, affecting habits, lifestyles, work methods, social policy and law. The legal system was based on religious kapu, or taboos. There was a correct way to live, to worship, and even to eat. Examples of kapu included the provision that men and women could not eat together (ʻAikapu religion). Fishing was limited to specified seasons of the year. The shadow of the aliʻi must not be touched as it was stealing his mana.
The rigidity of the kapu system might have come from a second wave of migrations in 1000–1300 from which different religions and systems were shared between Hawaiʻi and the Society Islands. Hawaiʻi would have been influenced by the Tahitian chiefs, the kapu system would have become stricter, and the social structure would have changed. Human sacrifice would have become a part of their new religious observance, and the aliʻi would have gained more power over the counsel of experts on the islands.
Kapu was derived from traditions and beliefs from Hawaiian worship of gods, demigods and ancestral mana. The forces of nature were personified as the main gods of Kū (God of War), Kāne (God of Light and Life), Kanaloa (God of Death), and Lono (God of peace and growth). Well-known lesser gods include Pele (Goddess of Fire) and her sister Hiʻiaka (Goddess of Dance). In a famous creation story, the demigod Māui fished the islands of Hawaiʻi from the sea after a little mistake he made on a fishing trip. From Haleakalā, Māui ensnared the sun in another story, forcing him to slow down so there were equal periods of darkness and light each day.
The Hawaiian mystical worldview allows for different gods and spirits to imbue any aspect of the natural world. From this mystical perspective, in addition to his presence in lightning and rainbows, the God of Light and Life, Kāne, can be present in rain and clouds and a peaceful breeze (typically the "home" of Lono).
Although all food and drink had religious significance to the ancient Hawaiians, special cultural emphasis was placed on ʻawa (kava) due to its narcotic properties. This root-based beverage, a psychoactive and a relaxant, was used to consecrate meals and commemorate ceremonies. It is often referred to in Hawaiian chant. Different varieties of the root were used by different castes, and the brew served as an "introduction to mysticism".
The four biggest islands, the island of Hawaiʻi, Maui, Kauaʻi and Oʻahu were generally ruled by their own aliʻi nui (supreme ruler) with lower ranking subordinate chiefs called aliʻi ʻaimoku, ruling individual districts with land agents called konohiki.
All these dynasties were interrelated and regarded all the Hawaiian people (and possibly all humans) as descendants of legendary parents, Wākea (symbolizing the air) and his wife Papa (symbolizing the earth). Up to the late eighteenth century, the island of Hawaiʻi had been ruled by one line descended from Umi-a-Liloa. At the death of Keaweʻīkekahialiʻiokamoku, a lower ranking chief, Alapainui, overthrew the two sons of the former ruler who were next in line as the island's aliʻi nui.
Assuming five to ten generations per century, the Aliʻi ʻAimoku dynasties were around three to six centuries old at 1800 CE. The Tahitian settlement of the Hawaiian islands is believed to have taken place in the thirteenth century. The aliʻi and other social castes were presumably established during this period.
The ancient Hawaiian economy became complex over time. People began to specialize in specific skills. Generations of families became committed to certain careers: roof thatchers, house builders, stone grinders, bird catchers who would make the feather cloaks of the aliʻi, canoe builders. Soon, entire islands began to specialize in certain skilled trades. Oʻahu became the chief kapa (tapa bark cloth) manufacturer. Maui became the chief canoe manufacturer. The island of Hawaiʻi exchanged bales of dried fish.
European contact with the Hawaiian islands marked the beginning of the end of the ancient Hawaiʻi period. In 1778, British Captain James Cook landed first on Kauaʻi, then sailed southwards to observe and explore the other islands in the chain.
When he first arrived at Kealakekua Bay in 1779, some of the natives believed Cook was their god Lono. Cook's mast and sails coincidentally resembled the emblem (a mast and sheet of white kapa) that symbolized Lono in their religious rituals; the ships arrived during the Makahiki season dedicated to Lono.
Captain Cook was eventually killed during a violent confrontation and left behind on the beach by his retreating sailors. The British demanded that his body be returned, but the Hawaiians had already performed funerary rituals of their tradition.
The 1790 Footprints refer to a set of footprints found near the Kīlauea volcano in present-day Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawaiʻi. Resulting from an unusually explosive eruption, they may be associated with a series of battles in the area in 1790.Ahupuaa
Ahupuaʻa is a Hawaiian term for a large traditional socioeconomic, geologic, and climatic subdivision of land (comparable to the tapere in the Southern Cook Islands).Aliʻi
Aliʻi in the Hawaiian language refers to the hereditary line of rulers, the noho aliʻi, of the Hawaiian Islands. Aliʻi has a similar meaning in the Samoan language and other Polynesian languages, and is a cognate of the Māori word "ariki".Battle of Kepaniwai
The Battle of Kepaniwai ("Battle of the Dammed Waters of ʻĪao" or Kaʻuwaʻupali, "Battle of the Clawed Cliffs") was fought in 1790 between Hawaiʻi Island and Maui. The forces of Hawaiʻi were led by Kamehameha I, while the forces of Maui were led by Kalanikūpule. It is known as one of the most bitter battles fought in Hawaiian history.
While Maui's king Kahekili II was on Oʻahu, Kamehameha's war fleet landed in Kahului a few kilometers from the base of ʻĪao Valley. An army consisting of around twelve hundred skilled warriors led by Kamehameha and Kekuhaupiʻo, advanced on Kahekili's son Kalanikūpule and other Maui chiefs blocking the ʻĪao valley. The two armies were evenly matched and neither side broke after two days of fighting. On the third day Kamehameha's army was helped by the use of two cannons (named "Lopaka" and "Kalola") operated by John Young and Isaac Davis, two of Kamehameha's royal advisors. Although none of Maui's major chiefs were killed, many people died resulting in the "damming of the waters" by the corpses floating in the river. It was said that the river "ran red with the blood of the dead." Chiefess Kalola and her granddaughter Keōpūolani were able to escape west through the valley to Olowalu and north to Lahaina.After the battle, Kalola offered her 11-year-old granddaughter to Kamehameha as a future wife. Meanwhile, Keōua Kuahuʻula, the last independent chief on the Island of Hawaiʻi, who had been raiding Kamehameha's territory, quickly returned to the Big Island. This resulted in the 1790 battles of East Hawaiʻi and the 1791 battle of Kawaihae.Kahekili II resumed his rule of Maui and also acquired cannons. In 1791, Kahekili tried to invade the island of Hawaiʻi, but was defeated in a naval battle called Kepuwahaʻulaʻula. Kamehameha had to wait for the civil war that broke out in 1793 after the death of Kahekili II, and the battle of Nu'uanu to finally win control of Maui.Battle of Mokuohai
The Battle of Mokuʻōhai, fought in 1782 on the island of Hawaii, was a key battle in the early days of Kamehameha I's wars to conquer the Hawaiian Islands. It was his first major victory, solidifying his leadership over much of the island.Battle of Nuʻuanu
The Battle of Nuʻuanu (Hawaiian: Kalelekaʻanae; literally the leaping mullet), fought in May 1795 on the southern part of the island of Oʻahu, was a key battle in the final days of King Kamehameha I's wars to unify the Hawaiian Islands. It is known in the Hawaiian language as Kalelekaʻanae, which means "the leaping mullet", and refers to a number of Oahu warriors driven off the cliff in the final phase of the battle. There are "varied and sometimes conflicting histories of the Battle of Nuʻuanu."Edict of Toleration (Hawaii)
An Edict of Toleration was decreed by King Kamehameha III of Hawaii on June 17, 1839, which allowed for the establishment of the Hawaii Catholic Church. The religious traditions of ancient Hawaii were preferred by Kings Kamehameha and Kamehameha II, with the Roman Catholic Church being suppressed in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Later, during the regency of Kaahumanu and the child king Kamehameha III, the Congregational church was the preferred Christian denomination. Kamehameha III issued the edict under the threat of force by the French government, as the French were seeking to protect the work of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The 1840 Constitution later enshrined religious liberty. Under the threat, King Kamehameha III paid the $20,000 in compensation for the deportation of the priests and the incarceration and torture of converts.Kamakaimoku
Kamakaʻīmoku was a chiefess in ancient Hawaii in the early 18th century. She married three powerful men of the time, was mother of the King who would unite the island of Hawaiʻi and meet the first known visitors from Europe, and grandmother of the founder of the Kingdom that united all of the Hawaiian islands.Keokea, Hawaii County, Hawaii
Kēōkea is an unincorporated populated place in Hawaii County, Hawaii, United States. It is located at 19°25′10″N 155°52′58″W, near the junction of Māmalahoa Highway (Route 11) and Keala o Keawe Road (Route 160), elevation 960 feet. Satellite imagery shows evidence of a humid climate with agriculture dominant around the settlement. Just to the north is the area of Hōnaunau. It was the name for the land division (ahupuaa) of ancient Hawaii that stretched from the shoreline to Mauna Loa owned by Mataio Kekūanāoa.The name is used for several places throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
A county park named Kēōkea is on the north coast of the Hawaiʻi Island, at 20°13′37″N 155°44′44″W. In the Hawaiian Language kē ō kea means "the sound of whitecaps", or "the white sand".Kidnapping of Kalaniʻōpuʻu by James Cook
Captain James Cook's 1779 attempted kidnapping of Kalaniʻōpuʻu, the ruling chief of the island of Hawaii and the decision to hold him in exchange for a stolen long boat (lifeboat) was the fatal error of Cook's final voyage, and ultimately led to his death.
Cook's arrival in Hawaii was followed by mass migrations of Europeans and Americans to the islands that gave rise to the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, the aboriginal monarchy of the islands, beginning in 1893.Kohala, Hawaii
Kohala is the name of the northwest portion of the island of Hawaiʻi in the Hawaiian Archipelago. In ancient Hawaii it was often ruled by an independent High Chief called the Aliʻi Nui. In modern times it is divided into two districts of Hawaii County: North Kohala and South Kohala. Locals commonly use the name Kohala to refer to the census-designated places of Halaʻula, Hāwī, and Kapaʻau collectively. The dry western shore is commonly known as the Kohala Coast, which has golf courses and seaside resorts.Kukini
In the Hawaiian language, kukini means "runner, swift messenger, as employed by old chiefs, with a premium on their speed."In ancient Hawaii, Kukini were an elite class of men selected to undergo strenuous physical and mental training to become swift foot runners.
Such runners were used in battles, as messengers, spies, and as athletes in foot racing in the Makahiki games. This term has become popular to use as a label for various things. For example, the shoe corporation Nike used the name Kukini for one of the models of their running shoes.
Also, Hickam Air Force Base's newsletter is named "Kukini," as is the newsletter for the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library named Ke Kukini, and GoGo eBike's Kukini electrically pedal assisted bicycle locate at GoGo Ebike, 1608 Kalakua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96826.Lonomaʻaikanaka
Lonomaʻaikanaka was a Queen consort of Hawaii island in ancient Hawaii. She was also High Chiefess of Hilo by birth. She was also considered a Chiefess of Maui.Olowalu, Hawaii
Olowalu is a community on the west side of the island of Maui in the state of Hawaii. It is located about 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Lahaina on the Honoapiʻilani Highway.
It sustained a large population, governed by the high chiefess Kalola, daughter of Maui ruler Kekaulike, and grandmother of Keopuolani. It was home to a traditional farming community until the arrival of the Europeans, who replaced it with a sugarcane plantation. The massacre in 1790 described below, as well as the labor-hungry sandalwood trade, contributed to the site's decline. A substantial real estate development is under consideration for the area. The area is home to one of Hawaii's most striking reefs.Piʻilaniwahine
Piʻilaniwahine II (piʻilani = "ascent to heaven", wahine = "woman/wife") was a Hawaiian High Chiefess. She was of very noble ancestry and is known to us today from the old chants.
She lived in ancient Hawaii; her mother was Kekaikuʻihala I and her father was Kalanikaumakaowākea.Piʻilaniwahine had two husbands herself. She married Ahu-a-ʻI; their child was Queen Lonomaʻaikanaka of Hawaiʻi.
Another Piʻilaniwahineʻs husband was called Moana (son of Keākealani Kāne). Their son was named Lono after one god.
It is unknown when Piʻilaniwahine died.Polynesian navigation
Traditional Polynesian navigation was used for thousands of years to make long voyages across thousands of miles of the open Pacific Ocean. Navigators travelled to small inhabited islands using wayfinding techniques and knowledge passed by oral tradition from master to apprentice, often in the form of song. Generally, each island maintained a guild of navigators who had very high status; in times of famine or difficulty, they could trade for aid or evacuate people to neighbouring islands. As of 2014, these traditional navigation methods are still taught in the Polynesian outlier of Taumako Island in the Solomons.
Polynesian navigation used some navigational instruments, which predate and are distinct from the machined metal tools used by European navigators (such as the sextant, first produced in 1730; the sea astrolabe, from around late 15th century; and the marine chronometer, invented in 1761). However, they also relied heavily on close observation of sea sign and a large body of knowledge from oral tradition.Both wayfinding techniques and outrigger canoe construction methods have been kept as guild secrets, but in the modern revival of these skills, they are being recorded and published.Pulu
Pulu is a silky material obtained from the fibers of the hapuʻu pulu (Cibotium glaucum), a tree fern of Hawaii. It is made of the brown hairs that cover the young fiddlehead as it uncoils.Waialua, Hawaii
Waialua is a census-designated place and North Shore community in the Waialua District on the island of Oʻahu, City & County of Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. As of the 2010 Census, the CDP had a population of 3,860.Waialua was one of the six original districts of ancient Hawaii on the island, known as moku. Waialua is a former (sugar) mill town and residential area, quite different in its quiet ambiance from nearby Haleʻiwa, which is more commercial and tourist oriented. The Waialua Sugar Mill is the center of this town and the historical base of its plantation history.
The U.S. postal code for Waialua is 96791.Women's surfing
The earliest recorded incidence of women's surfing concerns the mythical Kelea. Kelea was born of royalty in Maui, it is believed she out-surfed riders of both genders. A few centuries later in the mid-late 1800s, Thrum’s Hawaiian Annual reported that women in ancient Hawaii surfed in equal numbers and frequently better than men. Women's surfing in Australia has a popular following amongst female participants.
In the Muslim world many women are taking up surfing.Women’s surfing has increased in popularity over the last 50 years.