Laniloa: La’ie Point, O’ahu

La'ie Point, O'ahu Laie

Laniloa: La'ei Point, O'ahu

Historically, La’ie was a puʻuhonua, a sanctuary for fugitives. While a fugitive was in the pu’uhonua, it was unlawful for that fugitive’s pursuers to harm him or her. During wartime, spears with white flags attached were set up at each end of the city of refuge. If warriors attempted to pursue fugitives into the puʻuhonua, they would be killed by sanctuary priests. Fugitives seeking sanctuary in a city of refuge were not forced to permanently live within the confines of its walls. Instead, they were given two choices. In some cases, after a certain length of time (ranging from a couple of weeks to several years), fugitives could enter the service of the priests and assist in the daily affairs of the puʻuhonua. A second option was that after a certain length of time the fugitives would be free to leave and re-enter the world unmolested. Traditional cities of refuge were abolished in 1819 (Wiki).

According to William Rice in his Hawaiian Legends , Laniloa is the name given to a point of land which extends into the ocean from La’ie. In ancient times this point was mo‘o, standing upright, ready to kill the passerby. (“Mo’o are the powerful lizard (or dragon) water spirits of Hawai’i. Mo’o inhabit waterfalls, fishponds, even the ocean. In the words of Lilikala Kame’eleihiwa, Ph.D., Director, Center for Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawai’i at Manoa:“Mo’o were greatly feared and revered throughout Polynesia; in Hawai’i they are almost always female.”1 As with most Hawaiian akua (gods), mo’o could appear in various forms, in this case, they were usually either reptilian or human.”)  After Kana and his brother had rescued their mother from Molokai and had taken her back to Hawaii, Kana set out on a journey around the islands to kill all the mo‘o. In due time he reached La’ie, where the mo‘o was killing many people. Kana had no difficulty in destroying this monster. Taking its head, he cut it into five pieces and threw them into the sea, where they can be seen today as the five small islands lying off Malaekahana.




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