While the young United States of America was fighting for its independence from Great Britain, Kamehameha the Great and other warriors moved their battle from the island of Maui to the island of Lanai. There they had their food and water supplies cut off by the local chiefs, and were reduced to eating the root of the wild kupala plant. Because of these conditions, they named the battle of Lani, Ka-moku-hi, the battle of the Loose Bowels. Finishing on Lanai as quickly as possible under the conditions, they returned to Maui and to fresh water and fresh foods to recover.
During this same time period, Captain Cook was leaving Christmas Island and making his first contacts with Oahu, Kauai, and Maui islands. In his journal on November 26, 1778, he wrote about meeting the natives, “We exchanged nails and bits of iron with the Sandwich Island natives for cuttlefish, breadfruit, taro, sweet potatoes, and pigs.” (Cook named it Sandwich Islands in honor of the Earl of Sandwich, his patron for the trip.) On November 30, 1778, they met Kamehameha the Great, but tried to Anglo-size his name, so it came out as Maihamaiha. Cook wrote, “As a savage looking face as I ever saw, it however by no means seemed an emblem of his disposition, which was good natured and humorous, although his manner showed somewhat of an overbearing spirit.”
When Captain Cook traveled to the Big Island that he pronounced Owyhee, he was amazed at how high mountains where there. Mountain peaks were covered with snow, and a lot of the island had been “laid to waste by a volcano.” As has been well written, Captain Cook and his men wore out their welcome in Hawaii and were killed when the natives believed him to be a god who was never happy with the gifts they brought him, always wanting more. This is a story that has already been told in this blog, so we’ll move on.
Kamehameha was just a curious about Captain Cook and the white men on the H.S.S. Resolution. He climbed on board and was startled by Captain Cook’s blue eyes. He never saw eyes the color of the sea before. He soon became very curious about the white man’s guns and cannons, so curious that he would adapt these ways in his future Hawaiian battles. Through his liberal attitude toward Europeans with miraculous knowledge of ships, weapons, and technologies, he was the first to seek out and make friends with Europeans and Americans who could show him the way.
Cite: The Warrior King: Hawaii’s Kamehameha, the Great by Richard Tregaskis