Once upon a time in Hawaii, there was no Kapu (forbidden) system. The strict sexist laws arrived by canoe from Polynesia in the form of a disgraced preacher – I guess you’d call him a medicine man, or Bringer of Poison and Fear. Around the year 1200, Pa’u was so extreme he was banished from the islands where he was born, and set out to “save” a peaceful population from happiness. He found original peoples here – self governing – each island sharing the bounty of the sea and edibles from the mountains in their pie slice shaped land divisions. They honored Pele for brining fire and her rival Poliahu for bringing snow. They built stone altars to the aumakua, the sharks and birds and lizards they could become. Each new birth was greeted with the child’s own genealogical chant, tracing their ancestry back thousands of years. But as they do, zealots bring intolerance and fear, from their lofty perch, they steal the souls of those they they pray to save. For most of my Western education, this was a loss I could not see.
I counter the tour books’ poorly researched histories. Here’s what I don’t want to tell you, but I’m telling you anyway – the monument in Kealakekua Bay should be dedicated to the the Hawaiian warriors who slew Captain Cook, not to the guy who couldn’t get his ship fixed and traded worthless trinkets and venereal disease for much needed fresh water, meat and fruits. He had it coming. His crew had dragged out the chief of the Ka’u protectorate and beaten his sacred body bloody in front of his wives and children. The Eurocentric texts say the “savages” her thought he was the god Lolo due to his three masted ship, and that upon being struck in the melee, he bled, whereupon the natives fell upon him angry for having been led to believe in his godliness. Bull pucky. Makahiki, the once upon a time celebration is indeed associated with he god Lolo. However, there had been many whaling ships come to Hawaii before Jame Cook. Nobody here thought the bearded men were gods. So there sits the Captain Cook monument, marking the place where his sailors started a fight with their intolerance and greed.