The Legend of the birth of King Kamehameha the Great and the chief who saved him!

Updated: Apr 24, 2021

Aloha my fellow kanakas and FAMEily around the world! I am so excited that the world is beginning to open up again what with the COVID shots, travel re-opening, etc. While we are still a ways off from being able to move about without worry, it is a relief that there is light on the horizon! With that in mind, I've decided that our journey into learning about each other's cultures, foods, dances, etc. should really begin with me introducing you to mine. Every week I will be sharing our history and stories of our ancestors. I will talk to you about our Ali'i (Kings and Queens). I will share with you the history behind some of the different places on our islands, and things we do as a people that are unique to who we are and our 'Ōlelo (language). There is so much to share with all of you and I am so excited to introduce you to our culture and our people.

This morning I went out on my morning walk, staring out at the breathtaking mountains and the ocean surrounding us. About a mile in, my mind drifted to our Ali'i Nui. One king in particular, King Kamehameha I, original name 'Paiea', also known as Kamehameha the Great. He was born to Keku'iapoiwa II, niece of Alapainui, and to father, Keoua, a high chief. There is actually a very intriguing legend surrounding Kamehameha's existence because there was said to have been odd weather changes and even a comet to have passed around, or during, the time of his birth.

Scanned from page 28 of the following book. Grant, Glenn (2004) Hawai`i Looking Back: An illustrated History of the Islands, Mutual Publishing, pp. 454pp
Author Unknown

It is also said that Kamehameha's birth was prophesied by kahunas ('priests', 'sorcerers', 'ministers'), foretelling that "a great leader would be born who would defeat his rivals and reign over all of the islands". Alapainui, the former king, and uncle of Keku'iapoiwa II, ordered that Kamehameha be put to death before the prophesies could come true. Knowing this, his mother entrusted Kamehameha to a great chief named Naeole who was known for being a great runner. He would take the infant wrapped in tapa cloth and flee with him, successfully evading the warriors hunting them, and protecting Kamehameha for years. Together with his sister, Naeole raised Kamehameha in secret until Alapainui finally allowed him to be brought back to court.

At the time, Hawaii was divided into four kingdoms which were ruled by an ali'imoku (ruling chief). Eventually Kamehameha would go to war with these chiefs, conquering them and uniting all of the Hawaiian islands by 1810, which founded the Kamehameha dynasty.

Fun Fact: The CEOs of FAME MAGAZINE GLOBAL are direct descendants of Naeole!!! How cool is that?!

Make sure to subscribe to FAME and check in with me every week for more stories of the history, culture, and people of Hawaii!

A Hui Hou Kākou (until we meet again),

Island Girl


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