Mo’okini Heiau

Mo'okini Heiau

According to tradition, Mo’okini Heiau dates back to the 5th century, when it was built on the northern tip of the island, by the high priest, Mo’okini. Somewhere between the 11th and 14th  century (dates vary) another priest called Pa’ao is said to have built the current structure. Pa’ao came from Tahiti or Samoa and is also said to have brought to Hawaii the practice of human sacrifice and the kapu system, laws that governed daily life.

Given its history, it’s not surprising that some people find the site eerie and unsettling. The stone in the second photo, is where flesh was stripped from bone after a person had been sacrificed.

For more information about Mo’okini Heiau, go to

The stone at Mo'okini Heiau where flesh was stripped from bone after a sacrifice.

4 thoughts on “Mo’okini Heiau

  1. Pingback: King Kamehameha’s birthplace | Graham's Island

  2. Graham Post author

    Not sure which one you’re thinking of, but this one predates him. It was a religious heiau and is about half a mile from Kamehameha’s birthplace, which I guess is also a heiau of sorts. Then there’s the Pu’ukohola Heiau that King K had built to fulfill the condition that promised that he would unite all the islands.

    The NPS link says “Mo’okini Heiau was active through the early part of the 19th century and was Kamehameha I’s war temple, housing his family’s war god Ku-ka-‘ili-moku before the transfer of the god to Kamehameha’s new war temple Pu’ukohola Heiau, 21 miles down the coast near Kawaihae.”


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