Lapakahi State Historical Park 1Credit: Introspective Pics

 Historic Hawaiian Settlement Village

Located in North Kohala, on Hawaii’s Big Island is a 600 year old traditional Hawaiian village. The Lapakahi State Historical Park is the archaeological remains of an ancient costal village. While a portion of the village has been restored, most of the rock walls are original.

When you visit the park, you can take a self-guided tour through the village by trail, and there is much to see. The trail consists of two loops which are both 0.5-miles long. The first loop takes you to a canoe halau (long house); salt-making pans; and a major habitation complex along the shoreline of Koai'e Cove. The second loop takes you north where you will find another canoe halau; a Family Heiau (mua) (a religious site); a rock shelter, and much more.


Lapakahi Trails

Loop One

1) Curbed Trail: A stone-lined trail that starts your adventure and runs upslope, linking to the mauka (upland) and makai (seaward) portions of the ahupua’a.

2) Burial Site: A large rock-filled platform that contains multiple burials.

 3) House Site: Originally built as a house site, it was abandoned in the early 1800s and later used for burials.

4) Canoe Halau: Thatched roofs covered these long, walled enclosures where the canoes were stored. The canoe landing is nearby.

Lapakahi State Historical Park 5Credit: Introspective Pics

5) Historic House: A reconstructed house site with bamboo frame and pili grass thatching was occupied into the early 1900s.

 6) Ku'ula: Whether their catch was large or small, the fishermen always gave a portion to the fishing god who lived in this stone. In return, he received fish in abundance.

7) Shoreline Fishing: At Koai'e Cove, the fishermen launched and landed their canoes. Fishing implements used in the cove included spears, nets, and fishhooks of bone and pearlshell.

8) Well: A dependable supply of drinking water allowed this area to be settled and plants to be grown. The lowering of the water table in the late 1800s may be one reason the people left Lapakahi.

9) Salt Making: Sea water was poured into hollowed-out stones and the sun evaporated the water, leaving a concentration of salt crystals. Salt was used to preserve fish and for seasoning food.

10) Hale (house): A large complex of walled houses, home to many 'ohana (families).

11) Luhe'e:  "He'e" is the Hawaiian word for octopus, numerous in Koai'e Cove. The he'e was caught using a luhe'e, a lure that consisted of a cowry shell (the favorite food of the he'e), a stone sinker, and a bone hook.

Loop Two

Lapakahi State Historical Park 4Credit: Introspective Pics

1) Canoe Halau: Only the rock walls remain from this second canoe halau.

2) Family Heiau (mua): A religious site where prayers and offerings were made.

3) Ko'a (fishing shrine: Offerings were left for abundance from the sea.

4) Waihoma Kukui (lamp stand): The oil from the nut of the kukui was burned in a stone bowl for light.

5) Hale: The stone walls kept out the heat during the day, but kept the home warm at night. Thatched roofs on pole frames over the walls provided protection from the sun, wind, and rain. The floors of these homes were paved with 'ili'ili (rounded basalt pebbles); woven lauhala mats were laid over the paving. The marine shell on the floor was from the meals eaten there.

 6) Lua ahi (fire pit): Similar to an imu or earthen oven, food was cooked in these pits.

 7) Papamu: The game of konane (checkers) was played on this stone board.

 8) Rock Shelter: At various times, rock shelters were used for habitation and protection fron the wind and rain. The early settlers probably lived in such shelters before building their thatched hale.

Plants (La'au)

Lapakahi State Historical Park 6Credit: Introspective Pics

When you visit Lapakahi, you will see plants which are sources of food, building materials, medicines, and utensils. Many of thes plants were brought to Hawaii on the Polynesian voyaging canoes and are called canoe plants. These are some of the plants you can see on your tour;

1) Hau: The inner bark is stripped to make cordage. Hau wood is light and saltwater resistant, making it good for canoe outriggers and net floats.

2) Hala (Pandanus): The lauhana (leaves of the hala tree) are flattened, stripped, and woven into mats and baskets. The keys of the fruit are used for lei and as paintbrushes.

3) Ki (Ti): The leaves have many uses, to wrap food in cooking, to thatch shelters, and to make rain capes and sturdy sandals. Braided together, the leaves make a strong rope.

4) Kou: Bowls made from the small kou tree were shaped using a stone adze, smoothed with rough coral or lava, and polished with kukui oil. The orange flowers help cure thrush.

5) Kukui (Candlenut): Usually found more mauka, this tree has silvery leaves and a round fruit. Inside the fruit is a nut from which the oil was extracted and burned for light.

Lapakahi State Historical Park 8Credit: Introspective Pics

6) Niu (Coconut): Found along the shore, the fronds are woven into baskets and mats. The nut has many  uses; food, the husk fibers are spun into cordage, and bowls are made from the inner shell.

7) Noni: The fruit of this small tree was a famine food and used more for its medicinal benefits. Ko (sugar cane) was usually added to make the fruit palatable.

8) Wauke (Paper Mulberry): After soaking the inner bark in the tide pools until soft, it is beaten into kappa (cloth) that can be decorated. It was used for clothing and bedding.

9) Ulu (Breadfruit): The fruit is baked in an imu (earthen oven) and the sap is used to caul canoes. The trunk of this plant makes excellent surfboards, poi boards, and drums.

Games ( Pa'ani)

Lapakahi State Historical Park 9Credit: Introspective Pics

Throughout the park you will find games. Early settlers used them to sharpen the eye, quicken the hand and tighten the muscles.

1) 'Ulu maika (Disc Rolling): As you stand behind a line, you roll a stone ('ulu maika) on the edge and try to roll it between some stakes. A second player stands on the opposite side to retrieve the stones and roll them back. Each time a stone is rolled between the stakes, a point is earned.

2) Konane (Checkers): The papamu (stone or wood checkerboard) has 64 depressions (8 rows of 8 depressions each) that hold pebbles. One player has 32 'ili kea (white coral pebbles) and the other player has 32 'ili 'ele (black basalt pebbles). Players make moves similar to checkers, with the objective to make the last move.

Lapakahi was a place where fishermen and farmers lived. They worked hard to sustain the resources and support their 'ohana (families). It would be impossible to ever know everything about these early settlers, but what they left behind gives us an insight into their daily lives.


Lapakahi State Historical Park 7Credit: Introspective Pics

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