E MANONO: RECOUNTING THE STORY OF KUAMOO
In this clip, Auntie Nona tells the dramatic story of the chant “E Manono,” the battle of Kuamo`o in 1819, the part High Chief Kekuaokalani and his wife Princess Manono played in it, and the importance of this chant.
TRANSCRIPT: “An important fact about this chant is that it occurs in 1819, the year of the death of Kamehameha I. So that was a very tumultuous time, and Liholiho becomes Kamehameha II. So the scene is, you know, the death of Kamehameha I. And then all of these events take place.
The battle of Kuamo`o in 1819. And we are at the south end of Kona. The chants talk about the lava flats. I don”t think it’s so flat, when we’ve gone there. It’s a little hilly, not uh, bad. But at the end of Ali`i Drive, where the road comes to kind of a a circle there, there are the … sad…the slain bodies of the warriors. Uh-huh. And the bodies were just covered with rocks and left there. M-m. And this was a battle of Hawaiians against Hawaiians. The conservative Hawaiians led by uh, High Chief Kekuaokalani and his wife, Princess Manono. I think she figured very prominently in this whole uh, uh, scene. And Liholiho, Kamehameha II, that favored as did Ka`ahumanu, the abolition of the kapu system, the um, abolishing of the old religious ways. And Kekuaokalani saying, No, let us leave the old religion intact. Wow, what a tumultuous time that was. But the Hawaiians did it themselves. This was before the missionaries arrived in 1820. So the cousins go to battle. And in the chant, Manono asks her husband if she can take part in the fray, and he says no. But he will fix a hāli`i for her made of uh, uluhe fern. And she can rest there and watch the progress of the battle. H-m.
[CHUCKLES] She wanted to get in the fray. But with Kekuaokalani’s army and their hand-hewn spears, and there was Liholiho’s forces with cannon and musket. `Auwe. Kekuaokalani and Manono”s army, they were no match. So early on, she sees her husband fall with a musket shot, and she runs down wailing. “`Auwe, make ke kāne, `auwe.” And when Grandma told it to us, I started to cry. She covers his face with his cape and she picks up his spear and she goes into the battle. And she keeps chanting, “Ko aloha la ea, Ko aloha la ea.” Keep your love, keep your love. No matter what obstacles come to Hawai`i, keep your love. Boy, that’s pretty powerful. M-m, big lump in my throat. But it was real. And I’m proud to bear her name. I just wish I had the guts and gumption that she had, picking up that spear and going into battle. M-m. [SIGHS] That was the last battle, 1819, the battle of Kuamo`o. H-m. That’s why this chant and this hula is so important. Not just as a family message, you know, but it’s the belief that that’s the way the world should live, in love. No matter what obstacles come, keep your love. Hard to live that, but we try, we try. But I don’t um … uh, tell that story without the lump in my throat. It’s so real, and when you think of the suffering of the time, and standing up for what they believed was right … you really have to commend them. M-hm. In spite of the politics of the time. To keep your love, that surmounts everything. You know, it doesn’t matter who we are, where we come from. Keep your love. M-hm. Wonderful admonition. [SMILES]”