Kahekili, Father of Kamehameha

Kahekili II (Kahekilinuiʻahumanu c. 1737–1794). Kahekili was an ali'i (Moʻi) of Maui. His name was short for Kāne-Hekili after the Hawaiian god of thunder. Because Kāne-Hekili was believed to be black on one side, Kahekili tattooed one side of his body from head to foot. He was called Titeeree, King of Mowee by European explorers.

KahekiliHe was born about 1710-1737 in Hāliʻimaile on the island of Maui. His father was Kekaulike Kalani-nui-Kui-Hono-i-Kamoku the 23rd Moʻi of Maui. His mother was Kekuaipoiwa-nui Kalani-kauhihiwakama Wanakapu (Kekuiapoiwa I, half-sister of Kekaulike). He had at least two wives, and three or four sons and two daughters.

There is a theory that he was the biological father of Kamehameha I.

There will always be a debate regarding the identity of the father of Kamehameha. There are some sources that say that Keoua was *not* his father, and a few of those sources are shown below. There will always be a debate for some, but not for us as it's in black and white and thus we claim Kahekili as our family, through the Kekaulike Dynasty and not Keoua.

From: The Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii by Samuel Manaiakalani Kamakau1:

It was while the expedition was encamped at Lahaina that Ka-me'e-ia-moku, one of the four chief counselors of the kingdom and the father of Ulu-maheihei Hoa-pili, died at Pu'uki, Lahaina. Before he became too weak Kamehameha went to see him. He turned and kissed the chief and said, "I have something to tell you: Ka-hekili was your father, you were not Keoua's son. Here are the tokens that you are the son of Ka-hekili." The chief said, "Strange that you should live all this time and only when dying tell me that I am Ka-hekili's son! Had you told me this before, my brothers need not have died; they could have ruled Maui while I ruled Hawaii." Ka-me'e-ia-moku answered, "That is not a good thought; had they lived there would have been constant warfare between you, but with you alone as ruler the country is at peace." There died also at this time at Pu'unau, Lahaina, Ka'i-ana Kuku'e, son of Ka-'olohaka-a-Keawe and father of Pale-ka-luhi Ka-iki-o-'ewa.

The person telling Kamehameha is Kame'eiamoku, one of the Royal twin sons of King Kekaulike and the father of Hoapili. The tokens he speaks of were from Kahekili who entrusted Kame'eiamoku to give to Kamehameha as proof of who his father was.

From: The Legends and Myths of Hawaii, by David Kalakaua2 and Mowee a history of Maui the Magic Isle by Cummins E. Speakman Jr. and updates by Jill Engledow3

Connected with the court of Kalaniopuu at that time was a silent and taciturn chief, who had thus far attracted but little attention as a military leader. He was a man of gigantic mould, and his courage and prowess in arms were undoubted; yet he seldom smiled or engaged in the manly sports so attractive to others, and his friends were the few who discerned in him a slumbering greatness which subsequently gave him a name and fame second to no other in Hawaiian history. He was the reputed and accepted son of Keoua, the half-brother of Kalaniopuu, although it was believed by many that his real father was Kahekili, moi of Maui. But, however this may have been, he was of royal blood, and was destined to become not only the king of Hawaii, but the conqueror and sovereign of the group. This chief was Kamehameha.

From Kamehameha and his warrior Kekūhaupiʻo Written in Hawaiian by Reverend Stephen L. Desha4

When Kalani'öpu'u returned to Hawai'i, Kahekili's general returned and reported to Kahekili the fearless fighting of those two men and that one of them was a high chief because he was garbed in a feather cloak appropriately worn by those of royal blood. Kahekili guessed that perhaps this was his son9 whose strength in battle was praised by the Maui people. He intimated this to some of the leaders of his court, and they agreed with his idea. However, they were confused as to the identity of the warrior whom the young chief had rescued. Afterwards, however, the Maui chiefs learned of this huge man who broke men in his strong hands.

9 This refers to a variant tradition that Kahekili was the father of Kamehameha because his mother, Keku'iapoiwa, visited Kahekili on Maui before Kamehameha's birth (Poepoe 1905–06: November 30, 1905).


Samuel Manaiakalani Kamakau. Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii Kamehameha Schools Press, 1992, p. 188.

2 Kalakaua, David. "Legends and Myths of Hawaii : Kalakaua, David, King of Hawaii" Internet Archive, The Library Shelf, 1 Jan. 1888, archive.org/details/LegendsAndMythsOfHawaii.

3 Speakman, Cummins E., and Jill Engledow. Mowee: a History of Maui, the Magic Isle. Mutual Pub., 2001.

4 Stephen Desha and Frances N. Frazier. Kamehameha and His Warrior Kekūhaupi'o, Kamehameha Schools Press, 2000, p. 32.

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