You have all seen this marker, but do you remember where to find it?
The story of this bronze marker is actually the story of the stone upon which it is found. The rock is the smaller of a pair of stones that, under order of Governor Kuakini, formed a gateway on each side of the road into Manoa.
The partner to this stone was quite large. Originally nine feet in length, this kalo-shaped rock stood seven feet above ground and two below. Of the two stones, this was the more interesting for its cultural significance, its transport to Kapunahou, and its eventual fate.
Do you know where to find this marker? Do you know the story of its partner stone?
The marker lies upon a rock on the makai side of the lower gate entrance to Punahou School. The other half of the gateway pair was located twenty-five feet to the west, at the former home of Judge Mathewman on the other side of what is now Wilder Avenue. It was known as Pohakuloa (“long stone”).
Pohakuloa was a birthing stone. Legend was that expectant mothers would travel to this stone and, once there, would give a mohai (offering) of hilu (fish), an emblem of gentleness, grace, and good disposition. The hilu was accompanied with the leaves of the lama, a hard wood used in building houses for the gods. Lama was an emblem of wisdom, ambition, and brightness. The wisdom and strength that was said to come from the stone to the eventual newborn is perhaps now passed on to the students of Punahou School.
The tale of the stone’s transport to Kapunahou is a story in itself. In 1831, under the urging of Ka’ahumanu, a large wall was being constructed from Punchbowl to Moiliili. Puhakaloa was chosen to be a part of this wall, as one half of the gateway at the road into Manoa Valley.
The stone was to be transported from the northeastern slope of Round Top (near the former home of Mrs. F. M. Swanzy). Its sacred nature required that “none but the king himself could sanction its removal and for that ceremony even the presence of the king was necessary,” wrote Dr. Gerrit P. Judd.
Building this section of the wall was the hulumanu, the bodyguard of the young Kamehameha III. It was these men who dug up the stone as described by Dr. Judd:
The big rock was exhumed from its bed … and rolled upon a framework of ship’s spars. The young King then seated himself upon the apex of the rock, and gave the word of command, when rock, King and all were lifted upon the shoulders of the hulumanus–numerous as ants tugging at a kernel of corn–and carried down to its place.” (Alexander, Mary Charlotte and Charlotte Peabody Dodge. Punahou: 1841-1941. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1941: p. 46. Hereafter referred to as Punahou.)
The story of Pohakuloa’s transport was featured in Punahou School’s 75th anniversary pageant. The pageant was written by Ethel M. Damon.
Dr. Judd’s son, Judge A. F. Judd wrote about the stone in 1866: “Often have I climbed to its top and eaten my lunch from my tin-pail thereon, and to my childish imagination it seemed as high as a church-tower.” (Punahou, p. 46)
And where is this massive stone today? Unfortunately, nowhere to be seen. Wrote Judge Judd:
The rock exists no longer in its former proportions, but has been broken up by blasts and hammers, and has contributed largely to the new wall enclosing the lower gate. This piece of vandalism was perpetrated some time in 1856 or 1857, but the name of the guilty author has baffled all our enquiries nor do we wish to know his name. ” (“Punahou’s First Half Century.” The Friend March 1924: 52.)
In Punahou the authors write that the stone’s mammoth size was its eventual undoing. As told to A.C. Alexander by Judge S. B. Dole, the stone was broken up by blasting and hammers under Mr. Spooner, superintendent of grounds, 1854-1859. The reason for this destruction? The road into Manoa needed to be widened and the stone was deemed too difficult to move.
A piece of Pohakuloa came to rest at the corner of Makiki and Beretania Streets in what was then the garden of the Japanese consulate. The Kapiolani Maternity Home, later built at the site, is a testament to the stone’s mana as a birthing stone.
(Credit to Mary Jane K. F. Montano. Pohakuloa: The Fairy God of Motherhood.)