Old Miloli‘i and Nualolo

Even as late as the 1870s, Hawaiian overseers called konohiki headed ahupua‘a within the Napali. Mokunui, for one, was the konohiki of Kalalau, Nualolo, and Miloli‘i during those years.

And when Mokunui’s wife, Puhaihai, suffered mental illness, he did not take her to a medical doctor; instead, she was treated by a kahuna living at Miloli‘i and she recovered her wits in less than a year. 

In those days, about two dozen Hawaiians lived at Miloli‘i, where they grew taro, sugarcane, and bananas. People also grew huge calabash gourds on the beach — some three feet in diameter — and decorated them with drawings, and every man had a canoe for fishing — smaller one-man canoes made of koa and larger ones fashioned from kukui.

When a flood cut off the water sources and destroyed the ditches in the 1870s, the Hawaiians abandoned Miloli‘i.

At nearby Nualolo, Hawaiians lived by the beach at Nualolo Lalo where they fished and at Nualolo Luna in the valley where taro was raised.

These places are separated by a pali. To travel from one to the other, one needed to climb a 40-foot ladder lashed to the pali that leaned outward to sea and took nerve to climb at first.

Nualolo was also renowned for ‘oahi, a Hawaiian fireworks display. In early evening, people would climb a dangerously steep 1,200-foot peak called Pu‘u Maile from Nualolo Luna with lanterns to guide them. Once on top, after a three hour climb, they would light piles of long, dry hau sticks and papala that had been placed there during the day. These they threw down to blaze into streaming sparks that zigzagged and fanned out above the beach or became roaring balls of fire before plunging into the sea.

In the early 1900s, Nualolo was deserted, also.

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