What we can learn from Kamehameha’s life

Kamehameha I

Kamehameha I is a legendary figure, heroic and larger-than-life. David Kāwika Eyre’s “Kamehameha: The Rise of a King” (2013) is a fictional account of Kamehameha’s life that portrays him as a warrior, philosopher, and leader who can be a role model for Hawaii’s children. I enjoyed reading about Kamehameha as a child, warrior, and king.

Here are 5 lessons that we can learn from his life:

1. Believe that you can accomplish great things. Alapa’inui, the chief of Hawai’i, sent a man to kill him when he was born. A kahuna spoke a death chant during his birth. He spent his first five years raised in obscurity, away from his parents. Kamehameha could have chosen to be angry, resentful, and vengeful. Yet Kamehameha didn’t let the circumstances of his birth dictate his life.

2. Commit to a purpose in life. When his mentors and kahuna told him that he had a destiny, Kamehameha prepared for it. He trained for battle. He combated a niuhi shark and ate its eye. He pitted his strength against the Naha Stone. To win in battle, he built Pu’ukohalā Heiau.

3. Be open to new ideas. When Kāpena Kuke (Captain Cook) arrived in Hawai’i, he did not automatically accept that Kuke was a god; he observed and formed his own opinion. After almost dying from a confrontation with a fisherman, Kamehameha did not seek revenge; he went beyond forgiveness and declared the Law of the Splintered Paddle to protect commoners. When foreign weapons (cannons and muskets) were introduced, he did not ban them; he used them in warfare and even trained a group of women to use muskets, including his favorite wife, Ka’ahumanu.

4. Dream big. Kamehameha could have remained a warrior. He could have been content as the chief of Hawai’i. He could have rested after he conquered Maui. Instead, he extended his reach to all the islands, though war and compromise.

5. Listen to your teachers and mentors. Kamehameha learned lessons about leadership and responsibility from his foster father Nae’ole, chief of Hālawa. He learned about warfare and tactics from the famous warrior-chief of Ke’ei, Kekūhaupi’o and about foreign weapons and strategy from his haole advisors, Isaac ‘Aikake Davis and John ‘Olohana Young. He listened to kahuna, his spiritual advisors, and built Pu’ukohalā Heiau to win the war god’s favor in battle.

Which historical figures do you admire and why? What will people learn from your life?

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