Note: The Menehunes were the fairies of Hawaii. The goblins and gnomes of valley or woodland were called the eepa people, while monsters having the power of appearing in different kinds of bodies were called kupuas. These usually had cruel and vindictive characters and were ready to destroy and devour any persons they could catch. There were, however, many kupuas of kindly spirit who gave watchful care to the members of their own families.
The Menehunes were temple-builders, makers of great fish-ponds and even highways. They made canoes, built houses, and did many of the pleasant things fairies are always doing. Their good works are to be found to this day on all the different islands of the Hawaiian group.
Ka-hanai-a-ke-akua (The-adopted-child-of-the-gods) was the chief whose followers fought with the dragon-god, Kuna, for a canoe in Nuuanu Valley. He was a friend of the fairies—the Menehune people. When he had grown into young manhood and was going to have a temple of his own, with his own gods to worship, the Menehunes heard about the plan for the walls and altars and determined to build that temple for the chief.
As soon as the night shadows had fallen over the mountains back of Honolulu the Menehunes were called together by their luna, or leader. The stones necessary for the heiau (temple) walls were pointed out. Flat-sided stones were selected for raised places and altars, smooth stones were called for from the seashore to be laid down as the temple floor. Bamboo and ohia sticks were to be brought with which to build platforms for sacrifices, such as the bodies of human victims. All parts of the temple building1 even to the thatched houses for the priests and chiefs were portioned among the little people.
In one night the work was finished, a feast was eaten, and the Menehunes had scattered in the shadows of the forest thickets.
Kahanai took possession of his temple and dedicated it with the tabu service and ceremonies. This meant that a tabu of silence or a tabu forbidding work of any kind would be announced, and all the people of the district or place in which the temple was located would obey that tabu until the dedication ceremonies were all over and the words “Noa, ua noa” were used, meaning that the tabu was over and everything could be freely done as before.
The name given to this temple was Ka-he-iki.
In this temple the chief placed his friend and guardian, Kahilona, who had cared for him from his babyhood, as his priest and teacher. Kahilona was the priest of this temple. Kahilona prepared this chant for the temple building.
“Gone is the little house,
The little house,
Gone is the large house,
The large house,
Gone is the short house,
The short house,
Gone is the little house,
From Maiuu to Maaa-e.
Let this be commenced.
Build, with the soft beat of the drum,
With the murmur of the voice of the gods,
With the low whine of the dog,
With the low grunt of the pig,
And the soft whispers of men.
Here am I, Kahilona,
The teacher of prayer,
Proclaimed by Kahilona.”
A kupua who was a dog-man overthrew the government of Kahanai and became the ruling power between Nuuanu Valley and the sea. His own house and heiau were at Lihue,—a place toward the Waianae Mountains. This kupua never attacked or injured any members of the family of the very high chief or king of the island Oahu, but he was a cannibal, and many of the people were killed and eaten by him. He could appear at will either as a man or a dog.
His name was Kaupe. After he had eaten some of the people of Oahu he went over the water to eat the men of Maui, and then went on to Hawaii, where he captured the son of one of the high chiefs and carried him back to Oahu, putting him in the temple at Lihue to keep him there until the time came for a human sacrifice. Then the boy was to be killed and laid on a platform before the gods.
The father of that boy left Hawaii to follow him to Oahu, thinking there might be some way of saving his son. If he failed he could at least die with him. When the father came to Oahu he very quietly landed and looked for some one to give him aid. After a time he met Kahilona, the caretaker of the temple of the Menehunes, and told him all his trouble.
The priest taught the father the proper incantations by which he could get his boy away from the magic power of Kaupe, and save both himself and his boy. Then he also taught the father a prayer which he was to use if Kaupe should learn of their escape and pursue them.
At night he approached the temple at Lihue repeating the chant which Kahilona had taught him. He watched for the signs which the priest had told him would indicate the place where the boy was kept, and followed them carefully. He continually repeated his chant until he came inside the walls and found the dog asleep guarding the boy. The father slipped in, cautiously aroused the boy, and unfastened the cords which bound him. Then they quietly passed the dog, guarded by the incantation:
“O Ku! O Lono! O Ka-ne! O Kanaloa!
Save us two. Save us two.”
Thus they passed out of the temple and fled toward the temple Ka-he-iki.
While they were running a great noise was heard far behind them. The dog had been awakened, and had discovered the escape of his prisoner. Then rushing like a whirlwind around the temple he found the direction in which they had fled. This was the path naturally taken by those leaving Oahu to escape to Hawaii. The great dog only waiting to learn the course taken, pursued them on the wings of the wind.
The two chiefs fled, but saw that it was impossible to outrun the dog. Then the father uttered the prayer which the priest had said would save them if Kaupe followed. They ran with increased strength and swiftness, but the dog would soon be upon them. Again the father repeated the prayer:
“O Ku! O Lono! O Ka-ne! O Kanaloa!
By the power of the gods,
By the strength of this prayer,
Save us two. Save us two.”
Then they found a great stone at Moanalua under which they were able to hide.
The dog had only one thought, which was that the father and son would return to Hawaii as speedily as possible aided by their gods, so he rushed to the beach, leaped into the air and flew to Hawaii.
The chiefs went to the temple Ka-he-iki, and were gladly welcomed by the priest, Kahilona, who taught them the prayers by which they could overcome and destroy the dog-man.
After they were fully instructed they returned to their home on Hawaii and waged war against their enemy. They obeyed the directions of the priest and finally killed Kaupe.
But the ghost of Kaupe was not killed. He returned as a ghost-god to the highest part of Nuuanu Valley, where in his shadow body he can sometimes be seen in the clouds which gather around the mountain-tops or come down the valley. Sometimes his cloud-form is that of a large dog, and sometimes he is very small, but there his ghost rests and watches over the lands which at one time he filled with terror.
Kahilona, the priest of the temple Ka-he-iki, became the ancestor of one of the greatest of the priestly clans of the islands—the Mo-o-kahuna (the priests of the dragon) class of Oahu, noted for their ability to read the signs of sky and sea and land.