Tag Archives: Kamehameha

Extra History: Kamehameha the Great

My hometown of Kāneʻohe sits below the Ko’olau mountains—a ridge of sheer cliffs that are the remnant of an ancient volcano.

And the most famous site in the Ko’olaus is the Nuʻuanu Pali. It’s a jagged split that—before we could blast tunnels with dynamite—was the only path through the range. It’s historic. Kids take field trips there. It’s one of the most beautiful vistas on the island.

But the wind is fierce. On a blustery day you can open a jacket like wings and lean 45 degrees into the wind, supported only by air. And that’s only part of why it holds a reputation for ghosts and otherworldly events. Most locals refuse to go there at night.

In 1795 Kamehameha’s armies invaded Oʻahu, driving the army of his enemy Kalanikūpule up the valley, and over the thousand-foot cliffs of the Pali. The event was captured by local artist Herb Kane in his famous painting.

Even as a child, I knew that I would tell this story someday. The image of those warriors, driven off the cliff, was too haunting to shake. I have to thank Extra History for letting me finally do that, and for both the narrator Dan and artist Lil for being responsive to my constant (often nitpick-y) feedback. I wanted to tell the story as best as I could, and I think we did that.