History in Kailua Kona

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Kailua Kona, also known as just Kona, is at the bottom of Hualalai Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. Captain James Cook found Hawaii of the cost of Kona and this is where King Kamehameha the Great died.

Royal Ties

The city was established in 1812 by King Kamehameha I who made Kona the epicenter of his government. Oriniginally, Kamehameha only ruled the Big Island of Hawaii. Later, he unified almost all of the Hawaiian Islands to better protect the Hawaiian people from foreign intruders. The city of Kona grew into a large royal compound and housed the royal family. It was known as a retreat because the beautiful landscape surrounding the compound. Many traders and explorers visited the king. In fact, one Russian trader became the king's favorite and was given an apartment inside the compound.

Liholiho and Kamakohonu

The King died in the 1820's and named his son Liholiho to succeed him. The king's favorite wife, Kamakohonu, announced the succession with a twist during a royal dinner where guests and foreigners were in attendance. She announced that she would rule with Liholiho, something unheard of in the culture. Liholiho then removed himself from the men's table and sat beside the women and began to eat. He broke one of the most important taboos in doing this. The crowd was surprised, but soon old ways changed and the sacrificial temples were destroyed. Women could now come and go freely, join in decision making and eat whatever and with whomever they wanted.

Liholiho's cousin Kekauokalani did not agree with the breaking of the taboo and went to war with Liholiho. He demanded that the edicts against the male priesthood be withdrawn and the temples be rebuilt. There was a battle fought and the King's forces easily defeated the opposition.

Missionaries Arrive

Christian missionaries arrived in Kona shortly after Liholiho's reign began, taking advantage of this new way of life for the Hawaiians, and built Mokuaikaua church that still is in service today. The missionaries transformed the village into a seaport that specialized in fishing.

Kailua Kona Today

Today the little fishing village is a premier tourist attraction with museums, restaurants, and lovely hotels.

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