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The Battling Chiefs


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"The Old Fort" once guarded Chief Kamehameha's Brick Palace.

During the 18th century, Maui's chiefs were at war nearly constantly with those of the Big Island and of Oahu for hegemony over the entire inhabited chain.  Kamehameha, the Big Island chief, emerged the victor soon after defeating his last significant rival, Maui's chief Kahekili, in an exceedingly bloody battle in the Iao Valley in 1790.  Kamehameha then began to transform the west coast village of Lahaina - up to that point the playground of Maui's alli (high chiefs) - into a political center of his united Hawaiian kingdom.  Though he himself spent little time here, his "favorite" wife, Queen Kaahumanu, and his "sacred" wife, Queen Keopuolani, made Lahaina their base, and his sons and successors, Kamehameha II and Kamehameha III, carried on much of the government here.   It was during the 1840s that the latter transferred the government to Honolulu.

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