Mānoa Heritage Center

Ka U‘i O Mānoa: Reflecting on “Kahalaopuna” and the Landscapes of Mānoa

Please join us for our next Virtual Kahaukani Conversations event on Thursday, September 17 at 5 pm on Zoom. Registration is free!

Click the button to go to the registration page; the Zoom link will be emailed to you prior to the presentation. Also, see below for a brief introduction to the talk and a bio of our special guest speaker. We hope to see you there!


The moʻolelo of Kahalaopuna, the Beauty of Mānoa, is well-known for its rainbows and describing the landscape of the valley. However, it has been sanitized over the years; the first published version is far more sinister. But was there a purpose for that? It was first published in 1882, at a time when the Hawaiian Kingdom was being threatened both from within and from outside forces, and Hawaiians were battling to maintain their authority in their own land. This presentation will discuss some of the features of the moʻolelo of Kahalaopuna, and how the story itself is a critique of the social and political landscape in the 1880s. Additionally, much as the story itself does, this presentation will also discuss some of the physical landscape of Mānoa Valley, and also delve into the social and economic landscapes at the time the story was written. 

About the Speaker

Uluwehi Hopkins was born and raised on Oʻahu, where her ancestors have lived for generations. She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the History Department at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Her Master’s Thesis was about Emma Kailikapuolono Metcalf Nakuina, who was raised in Mānoa in the mid-1800s. Nakuina chronicled many of the well-known moʻolelo about Mānoa such as “Kahalaopuna” and “The Punahou Spring.” Uluwehi was first introduced to Emma Nakuina when researching her own family tree and found that she and Emma have Metcalf ancestors in common. By researching this amazing woman, Uluwehi has since been able to branch off into other fields of research, including moʻolelo, water rights, and museums. 

Kahaukani Conversations is made possible with support from: 

Atherton Family Foundation
G. N. Wilcox Trust
Island Insurance 
Mālama Mānoa 

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