Ahu'ena Heiau

Malama I Ko Kakou Ho¹olina
Preserving Our Past


Mahalo to the original Bernice P. Bishop Museum crew who worked on the archaeological excavations and reconstruction of Ahu'ena Heiau platform and Hale Nana Mahina'ai at Kamakahonu.

Dr. Yoshihiko H. Sinoto, Museum Coordinator
Dr. Kenneth P. Emory, Museum Consultant
David K. Roy, Jr., Field Director
Patrick V. Kirch, Archaeologist
Catherine Vernon, Assistant Archaeologist and Field Recorder
Keawe Alapai, Field Foreman
Obed Hooper, Mason
Joseph Keka, Mason
Kenneth K. Akana, Laborer
Albert K. Carter, Laborer
Calvin Kelekolio, Laborer
Francis Mokuohai, Laborer
Carlton Kelekolio, Laborer
Francis Mokuohai, Laborer
Carlton A. Roy, Laborer

A special mahalo to Herb Kawainui Kane who drafted the original design for the reconstruction and to Mervin Gilliland of Amfac Communities Inc. who acted as the coordinator between the owners of the site at the time, Amfac, and Bernice P. Bishop Museum.

Kona community members Sherwood Greenwell of Kealakekua Ranch, Kupuna Joseph Kahananui and Mr. and Mrs. Manuel Freitas also provided donations of materials and assistance.

In 1975, Amfac Communities, Inc. approached Bishop Museum with their plan for reconstructing Ahu'ena Heiau and the Hale Nana Mahina'ai located on the grounds of the King Kamehameha Hotel in Kailua-Kona. It was agreed that the Department of Anthropology would serve as a consultant to carry out the
scope of work including:

  1. excavation of the center of the heiau platform for examination and possible location of subsurface features related to heiau super structures,
  2. excavation to determine the foundation of the Hale Nana Mahina'ai, adjacent to the heiau, and
  3. supervision of the heiau platform and associated superstructures, and of the Hale Nana Mahina'ai.

Reconstruction of Ahu'ena Heiau Begins in 1975

On November 11, 1975, Dr. Yoshihiko Sinoto, Museum Coordinator, gave instructions to Mr. David Roy, Field Director and Ms. Catherine Vernon for work procedure and for establishing the alignments of the South and West
walls to form an outline for th reconstructed platform. Actual fieldwork began on November 13.

From December 15, 1975 to January 5, 1976 all four walls of the heiau platform were constructed to finished height, and archaeological excavation was begun.

Dr. Yoshihiko Sinoto and archaeologist Tom Dye arrived on January 5, 1976 to direct excavation on the heiau platform and to locate Hale Nana Mahina'ai.

From January 19 to 30, 1976, excavations during the previous two weeks determined the alignment and location of the Hale Nana Mahina'ai and the mortuary house platform. In this period, wall foundations were stabilized
and the platform was reconstructed.

Collection of Building Materials for Reconstruction of the Superstructure Mr. Sherwood Greenwell of Kealakekua Ranch kindly donated ohia from his ranch land to the Ahu'ena Reconstruction Project.

Collection and drying of ti leaves for thatching began. Mr. Lorrin Thurston offered the use of his brackish water ponds adjoining Kamakahonu for keeping of ohia logs until the construction begins., and for soaking of the ti
leaves. Mr. Julian Akao tied 15 to 30 leaves in each bundle, soaked them in brackish water, and dried them for thatching. This work will continue until approximately 250,000 ti leaves have been processed.

February 1 to March 17, 1976
The first two weeks of February were utilized for the collection and preliminary preparation of ohia timbers from Kealakekua Ranch for the reconstruction of the components of the heiau platform and additional structures.

For the hale mana, hale pahu, and the anu'u tower of the heiau platform, and for the gabled hale and small guard's hale of the Hale Nana Mahina'ai, over 350 pieces of timber were collected. These ranged in diameter from 2 to 12
inches and up to 24 feet in length. The timber was debarked to avoid dry rot.

Hale Pahu
Construction of the Hale Pahu was begun on February 17. This drum house was the restoration crew's learning vehicle. Twelve working days were used to complete this structure; each crew member participated in each phase of the construction. The reference for traditional notching and lashing of components is Russell A. Apple's The Use, Construction, and Adaptation of the Hawaiian Thatched House.

Waiawi (strawberry guava) wood (donated by Mr. and Mrs. Manuel Freitas of Kona) was collected and debarked. For the roof of this structure, fire retardant prefabricated thatch was used.

April 5 to 19, 1976
During this two-week period work continued on the structures. The crew erected three signposts in the reconstruction area. The signs were designed by David Roy and Herb Kane and describe the heiau platform, the Hale Nana Mahina'ai and the mortuary platform.

April 19 to May 3, 1976
The crew spent one day in Mountain View collecting longer, straighter waiawi for thatching purlins for the hale mana. Four days were used to bark approximately 1,000 lengths for use as thatching purlins for the heiau
platform structures.

May 4 to 29, 1976
A smooth stone-paved area forming a courtyard on the heiau platform was completed. It extends to the proposed fence line.

All thatching purlins, both vertical and horizontal, have been attached to all structures.

A total of 1,043 purlins was used. 433 for the hale mana, 107 for the anu'u tower, 125 for the hale pahu, and 218 for the Hale Nana Mahina'ai.

June 3 to June 28, 1976
A total of 620 ohia fence posts and 28 cross pieces, 10 ft long, was cut. Kuralon line, dyed using fresh ohia bark boiled in salt and fresh water, was used for the lashing. The dyed line is the same color as the sun dried

Gordon MacKenzie donated a large breadfruit (ulu) tree, which was cut and planned to make door frames for the Hale Mana and the gabled Hale Nana Mahina'ai.

August 3 to September 3, 1976
All structures have been protected from insect damage by the application of Penta V.

Thatching is underway on the Hale Nana Mahina'ai gabled house. The structures on this platform require sugarcane thatch. Dry sugarcane leaves are collected in Honokaa, and tied in bundles of approximated 50 leaves
each. Each square foot of the structure requires approximately 40 leaves. Thatching of the south, north and west walls of the gabled house has been completed, and the west half of the roof is covered.

September 4 to 20, 1976
The reconstruction crew has completed thatching of the two structures on the Hale Nana Mahina'ai Platform. The gable house and the guards' shelter both require bonneting with banana sheath and more sugarcane thatch for

November 5 to 19, 1976
Lauhala leaf processing continues for the thatch on the hale pahu. All vertical purlins except those in the designated "dark areas" have been covered with split and woven lauhala. Mr. David Roy began experiments to
extract a red dye from kukui bark. The dark areas on the hale pahu will be covered with dyed lauhala leaves to simulate red lauhlala, which is no longer available in quantity in this area.

December 3 to January 3, 1977
Approximately 3,450 bundles of ti leaves have been applied to the Hale Mana.

The door securing the entrance to the large gabled structure (Hale Nana Mahina'ai) has been placed in position. It is made of oiled heartwood of the ohia.

January 4 to February 4, 1977
The major effort for the past month at Kamakahonu has been towards the completion of the hale mana thatch. The crew lays on an average of 500 bundles or 8,000 leaves per day. Due to difficulties with suppliers, the crew collects its own ti leaves. One or two days per week has been devoted to collection depending on available supplies.

February 5 to February 18, 1976
The crew completed thatching the north side of the roof of the Hale Mana. A total of 72,496 ti leaves were collected and made into bundles. Banana stalks were collected and the sheath scraped and applied 6 to 8 layers deep
over the ridge. The sheathing will be covered and held in place by fern ('ama'u) trim as depicted by Choris in 1816.

The anu'u remains unfinished until the tapa cloth is applied. When the structures have been completed the images must be carved to conform to Choris' original sketch.

March 5 to March 17, 1977
The reconstruction area at Kamakahonu has been completed.

Preparing the 'anu'u for tapa application was quite painstaking. The tapa was coated with a silicone sealant and cut to tower dimensions. The entire covering was painted with a white glue to improve its weatherability. The
finished surface has a sculptured appearance.

Ahu'ena Heiau now stands as it was once sketched by Louis Choris in 1816.



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