The Hawaiian Temple System in Ancient Kahikinui and Kaupō, Maui
with Dr. Patrick V. Kirch
Thursday, October 3, 2019 in the Atherton Halau
The book Heiau, ‘Āina, Lani, meaning “Temples, Land, and Sky,” is a collaborative study by Dr. Patrick V. Kirch and Clive Ruggles, using an approach that combines archaeology and archaeoastronomy. The remarkably well-preserved archaeological landscape of Kahikinui and Kaupō in southeastern Maui includes some 78 heiau, or temple sites, ranging from small coastal fishing shrines, through agricultural fertility temples, to the imposing war temples of Loʻaloʻa and Pōpōiwi, where Maui’s King Kekaulike offered up human sacrifices.
Building on detailed mapping and study of these temple foundations, Kirch and Ruggles generated new insights into how heiau served not only as places of sacrifice and prayer, but also as locations where kāhuna observed the heavens. Observing the rising of the Pleiades (Makaliʻi), and probably also the solstices, allowed the kāhuna to calibrate the Hawaiian lunar calendar, keeping it in sync with the solar year.