King Kamehameha the Great and the Battle of Nu’uanu Cliffs – YouTube

This show explores the bloody history of the beautiful Hawaiian Islands and learns about the bloody hand to hand combat techniques and vicious weaponry (like shark tooth clubs) of the Hawaiian warriors. He also reenacts the tactics that King Kamehameha the Great used in his crushing victory at Battle of Nu’uanu Cliffs.

The Battle of Nuʻuanu (Hawaiian: Kalelekaʻanae; lit. the leaping mullet), fought in May 1795 on the southern part of the island of Oʻahu, was a key battle in the final days of King Kamehameha I’s wars to unify the Hawaiian Islands. It is known in the Hawaiian language as Kalelekaʻanae, which means “the leaping mullet”, and refers to a number of Oahu warriors driven off the cliff in the final phase of the battle. There are “varied and sometimes conflicting histories of the Battle of Nuʻuanu.”

Battle

The Battle of Nuʻuanu began when Kamehameha’s forces landed on the southeastern portion of Oʻahu near Waiʻalae and Waikiki. After spending several days gathering supplies and scouting Kalanikupule’s positions, Kamehameha’s army advanced westward, encountering Kalanikupule’s first line of defense near the Punchbowl Crater. Splitting his army into two, Kamehameha sent one half in a flanking maneuver around the crater and the other straight at Kalanikupule. Pressed from both sides, the Oʻahu forces retreated to Kalanikupule’s next line of defense near Laʻimi. While Kamehameha pursued, he secretly detached a portion of his army to clear the surrounding heights of the Nuʻuanu Valley of Kalanikupule’s cannons. Kamehameha also brought up his own cannons to shell Laʻimi. During this part of the battle, both Kalanikupule and Kaiana were wounded, Kaiana fatally. With its leadership in chaos, the Oʻahu army slowly fell back north through the Nuʻuanu Valley to the cliffs at Nuʻuanu Pali]]. Caught between the Hawaiian Army and a 1000-foot drop, over 400 Oʻahu warriors either jumped or were pushed over the edge of the Pali (cliff). In 1898 construction workers working on the Pali road discovered 800 skulls which were believed to be the remains of the warriors that fell to their deaths from the cliff above.

Aftermath

Though he escaped the battle, Kalanikupule was later captured and sacrificed. This battle was the climax of Kamehameha’s campaign, after this battle his kingdom was for the first time referred to as the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. The islands were still not united. He had to capture the remaining neighboring islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau. First he had to put down an uprising on the Big Island, and then he began his preparations for the conquest of Kauaʻi. However, before this battle could be fought the king Kaumualiʻi of Kauaʻi submitted to Kamehameha, giving him effective control over the Hawaiian Islands.

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