At Ruapua We Examined an Interesting Heiau…

Leaving Kairua, we passed through the villages thickly scattered along the shore to the southward. The country around looked unusually green and cheerful, owing to the frequent rains, which for some months past have fallen on this side of the island. Even the barren lava, over which we travelled, seemed to veil its sterility beneath frequent tufts of tall waving grass, or spreading shrubs and flowers. The sides of the hills, laid out for a considerable extent in gardens and fields, and generally cultivated with potatoes, and other vegetables, were beautiful. The number of heiaus, and depositories of the dead, which we passed, convinced us that this part of the island must formerly have been populous. The latter were built with fragments of lava, laid up evenly on the outside, generally about eight feet long, from four to six broad, and about four feet high. Some appeared very ancient, others had evidently been standing but a few years. At Ruapua we examined an interesting heiau, called Kauaikahaora, built of immense blocks of lava, and found its dimensions to be 150 feet by 70. At the north end was a smaller enclosure, sixty feet long and ten wide, partitioned off by a high wall, with but one narrow entrance. The places where the idols formerly stood were apparent, though the idols had been removed. The spot where the altar had been erected could be distinctly traced; it was a mound of earth, paved with smooth stones, and surrounded by a firm curb of lava. The adjacent ground was strewed with bones of the ancient offerings. The natives informed us that four principal idols were formerly worshipped there, one of stone, two of wood, and one covered with red feathers. One of them, they said, was brought from a foreign country. Their names were Kanemuiakea, (great and wide spreading Kane,) who was brought from Tauai, Kaneruruhonua, (earth-shaking Kane,) Roramakaeha, and Kekuaaimanu. (Ellis)

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 (These are excerpts from a book by William Ellis that has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired.)

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