Kamehameha dynasty ruled Kauai
This is a response to Bill Buley’s front-page article in the May 3 edition of The Garden Island, “Never conquered.”
It is true that Kamehameha I was never able to successfully invade Kauai despite major efforts to do so in 1796 and 1804. A violent storm in 1796 and a major epidemic on Oahu eight years later saved the island from conquest. However, Kauai was conquered by the Kamehameha dynasty and that conquest had major implications for Kauai’s history.
Although not exactly a conquest, Kaumualii, Kauai’s king, fearful of Kamehameha’s power, traveled to Honolulu and offered his kingdom to Kamehameha in 1810. Kamehameha declined to accept Kaumualii’s lands directly, but Kamehameha made it clear that the Kauai lands would ultimately go to his son, Liholiho. In 1821 Liholiho traveled to Kauai where in return for Kaumualii’s hospitality, he kidnapped Kaumualii and took him to Honolulu where the Kauai king died in 1824.
Following Kaumualii’s death, his son, Humehume, also known as George Prince Kaumualii, led a rebellion on Kauai against the encroaching power of the Kamehameha dynasty. In the battle that followed, on the hillside above Wahiawa Valley, between Kalaheo and Eleele, the guns of the invading Kamehameha warriors proved superior, and the Kauai warriors were routed, their bodies and those of their wives and children were left for the pigs to eat on the battlefield. Hence the battle is known as Aipuaa, the pig-eating battle.
The result of this conquest was that the lands of Kauai were removed from control of Kauai chiefs and were put into the hands of the chiefs of the Kamehameha dynasty. The Kamehameha chiefs, not being kamaaina to Kauai, had less aloha for the Kauai people who were described as the “most oppressed” in Hawaii. The chiefs also had less aloha for their Kauai lands and thus these lands were among the first that were sold to foreigners.
Andy Bushnell, Kapaa