217 years ago, in May of 1795 the Battle of Nuuanu (pronounced “Noo oo ah noo”) was the last major Hawaiian battle that united the island tribes under one monarch, King Kamehameha from the the Big Island of Hawaii. This final great battle fought on the Pali cliffs of Oahu ended with Kamehameha’s men forcing Oahu soldiers to jump off the cliff to their deaths.
The vision of Kamehameha
The Battle of Nuuanu was actually the end of a long war campaign that began in 1790 when Kamehameha first sent his war canoes to Maui. It’s believed that this was as early as Kamehameha had the vision of a Hawaii united. After Maui he then conquered Molokai and Lanai. The next island in the chain to conquer was Oahu, but Oahu was strong. Fortunately for Kamehameha, King Kahekili died which left his kingdom disoriented.
War canoes in Waikiki, the Battle of Nuuanu
Seizing this window of opportunity in May of 1795, King Kamehameha’s war canoes landed near Diamond Head and Waikiki and engaged Oahu’s warriors. They fought on the slopes of Punchbowl until Kamehameha’s men scattered Oahu’s defenders into two directions, one small group to Pearl Harbor, the larger group into the mountains.
The last stand of Oahu’s soldiers was made by 300 warriors on a Pali cliff. They did this to allow the rest of the men to escape into the valley below. Kamehameha’s men pressed these remaining Oahu warriors until they were forced to jump off the Pali cliff or die from combat.
Kamehameha implemented the use of cannons and guns which is believed to have given him an advantage in this campaign. Firearms were available to all islands, however Kamehameha’s connections with western traders gave him good opportunity to utilize western technology.
For the next 10 years there would be peace as Kamehameha made preparations to conquer Kauai. However, Kauai ceded its sovereignty to Kamehameha in 1806. After this peaceful conquer all of Hawaii was united under one monarchy.
Experience the Battle of Nuuanu
To experience the locations of the Battle of Nuuanu take an Oahu Adventure Tour and hike in the same jungle that the brave Oahu soldiers stood their ground. You will stand at the Pali lookout which faces the famous cliffs that the soldiers were forced to jump from. Re-live a piece of Hawaiian history that will deepen your love and respect for these islands and its unique people.
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