In the summer of 1791 the Pu'ukoholā Heiau (temple) was finished. Kamehameha invited his cousin and chief rival for Hawai’i Island Keōua Kūahu'ula to the dedication ceremonies. Perhaps awed by the power of the heiau and its god, perhaps resigned to the ascendancy of his cousin, Keōua Kūahu'ula came willingly to what would be his doom. When he arrived there was a scuffle that occurred on the beach and, whether Kamehameha intended it or not, Keōua and almost all of his companions were slain. The body of Keōua was carried to the heiau and offered as the principal sacrifice to Kū (family war god). The death of Keōua Kūahu'ula ended all opposition on Hawai'i Island and the prophecy began to come true. By 1810, through conquest and treaties, Kamehameha the Great, builder of Pu'ukoholā Heiau was the revered king of all the Hawaiian Islands.
This curatorial object was selected to represent this park unit as it accurately reflects the key historic figures, period dress, historic landscape, and cultural representation of this “wahi pana” (sacred site) during the parks’ commemorative period (1791-1835 a.d.). This rendering, so masterfully produced by renown local artist Herb Kawainui Kane in 1976, depicts this major historic event when Chief Keōua Kūahu'ula arrived to Kawaihae and Pu'ukoholā Heiau in 1791. Events that immediately transpired on this fateful day paved the way for Kamehameha the Great’s ascendancy to power and greatness, and ultimately to his successful unification of the Hawaiian islands and its people some nineteen years later when the Kingdom of Hawai’i was established in 1810.