Kamaiko Heiau story in the PCA, 1908.


A. Gartley and C. H. Cooke Find Many Skulls and Skeletons at the Kamaiko Heiau in Kona, All in Good Preservation.

A Gartley and C. H. Cooke made a most interesting discovery in connection with the Kamaiko heiau of the district of Keei, in South Kona, on their recent visit to the Big Island.

This discovery was nothing less than a quantity of the skulls and skeletons of the human victims who were sacrificed at that heiau about the time of the abolition of the tabus.

This heiau is not far from the seashore, considerably makai of the government road, and reached only by an indistinct trail. It is a platform heiau 200 by 120 feet in size. The south and the makai ends are gone. The upper part is in fair order and shows two or three inner divisions. The side toward the sea is still in fairly good condition.

The heiau is about half way between Napoopoo and Honaunau, where the famous City of Refuge is located. While examining this heiau of Kamaiko, Mr. Gartley found at one end some loose stones apparently covering an aperture below. Removing these stones there was disclosed a mass of skulls and human bones. It is a tradition among the natives of the region that these are the skeletons of those who belonged to the party of Kekuaokalani, who raised the standard of rebellion against Liholiho when the latter abolished the tabus, and were captured during the battle of Kuamoo. The tradition is that these were taken to this heiau and were there killed by being shot through the head. Five priests were executed in this way. The skulls, or at least many of them observed by Mr. Gartley, show bullet holes in them. According to Alexander’s History, Liholiho had only a few months before this battle bought $11,000 worth of muskets and ammunition from an American trader.

The heiau is located on a lava flow. The climate is exceedingly dry, so that the skulls and other bones show little of the effects of time.

Mr. Gartley and Mr. Cooke on their return to Honolulu communicated their discovery to Thomas G. Thrum, Dr. Alexander and others who are interested in these subjects, and it has aroused the greatest interest.

(Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 3/25/1908, p. 1)


The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Volume XLVII, Number 7995, Page 1. March 25, 1908.

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