Maui News

Ahu Dedication Planned at ’Iao Valley

January 16, 2013, 9:29 AM HST
* Updated January 16, 11:46 AM
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‘Ahu Kinihapai. Courtesy photo.

By Wendy Osher

A new ahu or altar will be dedicated during a ceremony this weekend at the Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens in ‘Iao Valley.

The altar, named Ahu Kinihapai, was constructed under the guidance of caretaker Hanalei Colleado of Pu’uhonua ‘O ‘Iao.

At the center of the structure is an un-cut stone in the shape of a book that was strategically placed to represent the Kū’ē Petitions of 1897-1898.

The Kū’ē Petitions document includes the signatures of nearly 40,000 people who were opposed to the annexation of Hawai’i and stood in support of the Nation of Hawai’i and Queen Lili’uokalani.

Ahu Kinihapai, construction on the night of December 21, 2012. Photo by Wendy Osher.


The dedication of the ahu is part of a series of events being held this week as groups reflect upon the January 17, 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy that took place 120 years ago.


Construction on the square-shaped structure began in December and was crafted from pōhaku or stones that were gathered from districts across the island chain.

At the foot of the book stone is a kōnane board made of sandstone. The ancient game is one of strategy that resembles checkers, and is played with pebbles placed in even lines.

The ahu also features a large pōhaku that was carved in the shape of a man with arms outstretched towards heaven.


“It is our hope to stimulate the spirit, soul, and body of all people to the voice of God,” said Colleado in informational material detailing the purpose of the structure. Colleado said the structure holds “strong historical ties to Hawaii’s past, present and its future.”

The walls of the structure began to take shape on the night of Dec. 21, 2012, when supporters gathered to construct the perimeter wall and fill the base of the 8-by-8-by-4-foot ahu.

The dedication ceremony is open to the public, and will begin at noon on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013.

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