Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park sits on the coast south of Kealakekua. It features a huge masonry wall that encloses the pu’uhonua or place of refuge. As the name indicates, this was a place that offered sanctuary to those who had broken sacred laws (kapu) or been defeated in battle. If they reached this place, they would be spared, absolved by a priest, and allowed to return home.
A large portion of the remainder of the park is known as the Royal Grounds where Hawaiian royalty (ali’i) lived. Hale o Keawe sits on the edge of the pu’uhonua and is a heiau that housed the bones of 23 of those ali’i. This gave the heiau tremendous mana, or spiritual energy. The wooden statues are ki’i representing Hawaiian gods. It’s an important structure, both culturally and historically.
For more information about Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, visit https://www.nps.gov/puho/index.htm.