OHE March 23, 1998 (d)

Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 16:19:16 -1000
From: Nathan Yuen (nyuen@lava.net>
Subject: Ancient Sites of Kamalie

(a version of this has been posted to the newsgroup "soc.culture.hawaii")

Went with a handful of friends who have an interest in Hawaiian culture to explore Kuka'au'au Cave and Kamaile Heiau on Kamaile'unu Ridge, that massive ridge with a sparse covering of low dry grasses which descends from Mount Kaala to the Waianae Coast and divides Makaha Valley from Waianae Valley.

Starting from a Board of Water Supply Pumping Station at the foot of the ridge, we speculated that this pump taps an ancient spring which no longer exists but is identified in "Sites of O'ahu". Known as Keko'o or Kamaile Spring, the spring was an important water source on the Waianae Coast and once feed many acres of kalo (taro). Perched right over the spring is Kuka'au'au Cave, and sitting just above the cave is Kamaile Heiau.

As we began the climb to reach the entrance of Kuka'au'au Cave, we were somewhat disappointed to see that the area was littered with the remains of a metal sluice system that once diverted the waters of Kamaile. We also noted that graffiti was sprayed on certain rocks at the entrance of the cave.

The entrance of the cave was about 20 feet wide and 10 feet high. The roof of the cave sloped backwards for about 30 feet until it reached the dirt covered floor. After expressing an apology for intruding on the site, we entered the cave to explore what lay inside. On the roof of the cave were many nests of mud wasps and yellow-jacket wasps. We also noted that a little barrier of rocks was constructed in the back of the cave. Expressing our thankfulness for being able to see the inside of the ancient site, we left a hookupu on a rock inside the cave and began the short trek further up the ridge to the heiau.

Following a pathway through the sharp volcanic rocks that led up the ridge from the cave to the heiau, we noted that we must be walking along an ancient path that connected the sacred sites. Climbing higher up the ridge and seeing the heiau in the distance, we were disappointed that the rocks of the heiau were also marred by graffiti.

As we reached the Kamaile Heiau, we speculated that it must have been an important site to ancient Hawaiians. Perched some 400 feet above sea level the heiau was strategically located between the heavily populated valleys of Waianae and Makaha. It was just stunning to see the beauty of the Waianae coastline from this vantage point. After leaving hookupu at the heiau, we reflected on the spiritual significance of these sites and began to speculate on how things must have been in ancient times. With Keko'o Spring at the foot of the ridge watering the kalo loi, the area must have been much greener and more productive than it is today. With Kuka'au'au Cave and Kamaile Heiau sitting just above this spring, we speculated that some of the rites that took place here must have been connected to the spring. We also speculated that the site was used to communicate messages between the ahupua'a of Waianae and Makaha.

As we began the trek back to our cars, I was pleased that I had an opportunity to see the ancient sites of Kamaile up close and to be able to imagine in my mind's eye what things must have been like on the Waianae Coast in ancient Hawaii. Whadda neat experience!

P.S. If you wanna see some pictures of the cave, heiau, and surrounding Waianae-Makaha area from these vantage points, aim your web browser at:

http://www.lava.net/~nyuen/hiking/kamaile


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