HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This year, we'll celebrate the 200th anniversary of the unification of the Hawaiian Islands by King Kamehameha I. You may also know that when Kamehameha's mother was pregnant with him, it was prophesied that the baby she was carrying would become a great warrior. Threatened, the Chief Alapa`i ordered the baby killed. It fell to a Kohala chief named Nae`ole to spirit the child away and carry him to safety in Pulolu valley.
200 years later, that mo`olelo is captured in a book written by Nae`ole's descendent and namesake, Kekauleleanae`ole (the flight of Nae`ole) Kawai`ae`a. The book is being published by Kamehameha Publishing and is being released on Kamehameha Day weekend. Several things make this story amazing:
1) Kekauleleanae`ole is a fourth grader at Kamehameha Schools' Kapalama Elementary School. He wrote the story as part of a third grade assignment to look into his inoa, or name.
2) The book is illustrated by Kekauleleanae`ole's father, Aaron Kawai`ae`a.
3) Kekaulele grandfather provided him with the information about the history of Nae`ole and his role in protecting the baby Kamehameha.
4) Kaulele is a student at the school that was named for the great warrior and established by Kamehameha's great-granddaughter.
The book is called Kohala Kuamo`o (backbone), and the title refers to the way the entire community banded together to save the baby from the edict of death imposed by Alapa`i. Along the way, we learn how the place names of Kohala are tied to Nae`ole's race to save a King. For example, the name Halawa means "enough breath," and refers both to the fact that at that point in the journey the child was still breathing healthily, as well as the fact that Nae`ole, known as a great runner, still had enough breath to carry on the journey.