In old Hawaii, if you had broken a law, the penalty was death. Perhaps you had entered into an area that was reserved for only the chiefs, or had eaten forbidden foods. Laws, or kapu, governed every aspect of Hawaiian society. The penalty for breaking these laws was certain death. Your only option for survival is to elude your pursuers and reach the nearest puuhonua, or place of refuge.
As you enter, the great wall rises up before you marking the boundaries between the royal grounds and the sanctuary. Many ki'i (carved wooden images) surround the Hale o Keawe, housing the bones of the chiefs that infuse the area with their power or mana. If you reached this sacred place, you would be saved.
Today, you may visit Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, and still feel the spirit of peace and forgiveness that continues to surround and bless this special place.
The Pu'uhonua is still considered a sacred site. Therefore the following restrictions are in effect. No commercial filming, nudity, beach chairs, towels, mats, beach umbrellas, coolers, picnicking, pets, weddings or wedding photos, smoking and recreational activities such as frisbee throwing, football tossing, etc. are permitted. Please help to preserve the Pu'uhonua as in the ancient times.
Did You Know?
Did you know the game of kōnane is similar to checkers in the way the game pieces are moved, but is similar to chess in that the person who makes the last move wins the game? Chiefs would sometimes settle disputes by playing this game.