Updated: Mar 24
Kanaka Climbers was recently contacted by concerned Hawaiian neighbors near the Jungle Boulders area. They were concerned that crag development might be desecrating cultural sites or disrespecting our culture.
*Access to the Crag is very sensitive, tread lightly. Blog will not include proper names or location markers. We apologize if you aren’t familiar with the area. We recommend finding a friend who is well versed in current access issues before looking for or going to this crag. Climbing/hiking is AT YOUR OWN RISK and YOU do represent the entire climbing community, please represent us well.
Education About Cultural Sites
Kanaka Climbers worked with the concerned family to open up a small investigation into the area with the goal of pinpointing culturally significant areas, reconnecting Native Hawaiian stewards to the sites, and possibly gaining community support for our sport. We looked through archaeological surveys from 1883-1994.
Throughout the few weeks working to better educate ourselves on the area we were able to show the ‘Ohana the cultural sites, which the ‘Ohana is happy to take on as a permanent Kuleana. Throughout recent Hawaiian history, some families have chosen to not pass down the Kuleana of caring for significant sites as a method of protection. However, in today’s society and the developmental state we are in, important sites can easily be lost if no one is protecting them. Within the vicinity of the Jungle Boulders, no previously identified or newly identified cultural/archaeological sites were located; one of our archaeologists even came to thoroughly inspect the wall for clues of cultural use. Outside of the Jungle Boulders area, all mentioned sites within the surveys were found. At this point, the ‘Ohana was happy to know that the crag area displayed no evidence of being a burial site. We then worked to help the community representatives understand that allowing climbers in helps Non-Natives and Kanaka form a connection to the land which in turn can foster stewardship within the area.
Currently the Hawaiian neighbors are on board with BOULDERING within the Valley. Throughout the Valley all Pohaku are considered to be a spiritual ancestor. That being said, the behavior and attitude you take into the Valley is very important. Community support is not legal access and that community support is not binding, one action of any individual can change the lāhui minds.
The amount of cultural and historical knowledge we would like to share with you is pretty overwhelming, so below is a quick list of a few historical excerpts. We will also be giving you a very simplified version of the history as to protect the locations of the cultural sites. Again, there is so much more to the history of the valley this is only scratching the surface.
SOME OF THE CULTURAL/HISTORICAL SPOTS
Beginning of Valley:
Burial Caves: Some of the Iwi kūpuna and artifacts have been removed
Heiau: destroyed and used the Pohaku to create Waialae Ave. In 1883 Agricultural walled terraces- all Traditional Hawaiian-Pre/Post Contact Petroglyphs- most in area were blasted for an early 1900s quarry business
Top/Center of the Valley:
Crater: Maui’s hook/Ka‘auhelumoa
Pu’u O Maui: Net Boulder
Petroglyphs: most blasted for early 1900s quarry business
Agricultural walled terraces: All Traditional Hawaiian-Pre/Post Contact Mango, Ti, Pear and Banana planted along stream for Ali’i
Burials: This is a significant area, burials present (be respectful)
During the early 1900s, development of the valley began very rapidly. Thus, a majority of the culturally significant sites were destroyed. Below is a brief look into the valley's deep history.
Awapuhi-melemele and Awapuhi-ke‘oke‘o:
Two Mo’o Wahine were quarreling over some Kane and one of the Mo’o was turned into a Pohaku. The stone is in the middle of the stream and resembles the seated torso of a woman, including two legs. The water even flows over both her thighs. (Mrs.Elizabeth Kekuahooulu Davis, Informant, 10 March 1954, cited in Sterling and Summers 1978:277)
A great Wahine Mo’o traveled all the way from China and made her way up the valley. She eventually was found lying in the stream bruised and scarred. A keiki found her and brought her tūtū to help heal the hurt Mo’o. She was given the name Wahine ‘Ōma‘o because “one eye was like the sky, and the other was as black as night”. She was taken to the top of the hill that divides the valley and the Mo’o promised to protect the valley and its people. On bright days, you can see the form of the Wahine ‘Ōma‘o on the hill. (Pearson 1983:10–13).
It is said to be named Ka‘auhelumoa after the supernatural chicken of the valley. Multiple legends and stories involving Ka‘auhelumoa encompass the entire island of O‘ahu. Also, the crater was once the site of a natural lake and the fish that were raised in the lake were said to be only for the ancient valley chiefess. The crater lake lepo (mud) was also said to have healing powers and is linked to the creation of the first Kanaka by the gods, Lono, Kane, and Ku. Another account of the creation of the crater involves the demi-god Māui, during his attempt to rearrange the islands into one solid mass. He cast his fish hook all the way to Kauai and ended up pulling a huge Pohaku all the way back to O‘ahu. This massive Pohaku landed on top of the ridgeline and created the crater then bounced down into the valley.
Pu’u O Maui, The Net Bouder:
This mo‘olelo is about a father and son duo who used a fishing net to catch travelers along the Valley trail. The father eventually became sick and told his son he must catch and kill three men to satisfy the gods and grant him good health. The son failed at this and the next night a group of men came back to punish the father and son. The father claimed the valley was a place of refuge, to which a Kahuna disproved his claim. Before the men were put to death, the father threw out his great net. The next morning the net was found on an enormous boulder, and to this very day the pattern of the net can still be seen upon the face of the great stone.
Within the oral histories of the valley, multiple burial caves existed within the Valley. One oral history mentions a great cave in which King Kamehameha lived in for some time with the iwi of his warriors. Based on what has been documented within archaeological reports, all known burial caves were documented and “all artifacts removed”. Items found within included iwi kūpuna, bundle burials (Pōpō iwi), gourds, animal remains, and scraps of tapa.
The clay within the Valley traps water, creating ideal growing conditions for taro patches referred to as lo’i kalo. The Valley was filled with a magnificently engineered complex of Traditional Hawaiian terraces of stacked basalt and earth. Currently, only the upper region of the Valley has any of these agricultural terraces left. Early accounts within the valley suggest agricultural efforts were focused in the lower portion of the ahupua’a. The upper portions of the ahupua’a were not as commonly used due to steep slopes, potential rockslides, and unfavorable growing conditions.
The original trail up to the crater extended from trails at both the ‘Ewa and Diamond Head ends of Waikīkī, heading mauka up the valley from near the present day intersection of Waialae Ave. and King Street. It is believed the trail dates back to pre-contact times.
The Māhele Acts of 1845 and 1846, introduced the concept of private property into Hawaiian society. The back section of the trail we use to enter the crater was declared as crown lands.
The Battle of 1895
Robert Wilcox, one of the revolutionary soldiers who wished to restore Queen Lili’uokalani to the throne, had fled from soldiers who were sent to arrest him for supporting the rightful ruler of our sovereign kingdom. The revolutionaries hid on top of one of the ridges and the troops below began cannon fire on the valley to draw the men out. The revolutionaries began firing back until a tugboat called ‘Eleū anchored off the island and began to fire into the valley. The revolutionary troops began to run and were eventually captured or surrendered.
As the back of the crater trail was declared crown lands, multiple ti, mango, pear and banana were planted along the trail for the Royalty to enjoy on the way to the “Queens swimming hole”. If you see any of these plants, they could be descendants of, or the actual plants, that were planted for royalty.
*Access concerns: Every climbing location in Hawai’i is access sensitive. Please do not post directions or geotag photos. This website does not give you permission to access any lands, either public or private. Climb and enter at your own risk and remember YOU represent the entire climbing community. If a member of the general public or state agency asks you to leave, it is best to go.
Written by @kolealani