The Refuge and Painted Church

Kailua-Kona Travel Blog

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ki'i at the entrance to the sanctuary.

A tragic thing happened in the middle of the night. I was looking for the television control and I stepped on David's glasses. I popped out the lens. David was very decent about it.... but we needed to run to Costco to get it fixed and return a 4 gig SD card that would not work in our cameras... so our morning was shot with that....

When we got back to the timeshare we decided to take a ride and look at the countryside.... we drove towards Captain Cook town .... It was so beautiful driving through the tropics..... It was amazing to see poinsettia's as tall as trees! We started out late so we didn't expect to be able to visit very many places...

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau (Royal Grounds and place of Refuge) The area is quite large.

temple
At the parking lot are a bunch of benches .... a recording plays to explain what the place of refuge is and why the site is considered sacred.. There are some paintings and tile work to look at as you sit.

The well marked paths lead us to a duplicated temple and to the Royal grounds. The grounds had fresh water ponds with fish that were planted.... It was very beautiful by the ponds... very peaceful with birds calling and tropical trees and fruits. There was a large wall that was built in 1550 AD. It is volcanic lava perfectly fitted together with no cement ... there was a game of konane which is a traditional Hawaiian game arranged on a papamu: (a big flat rock with rows of holes with white and black rocks resting in them). Large hollowed out lava rocks were used to hold dye or used to pound 'awa root for ceremonies.

David with a large palm tree headress...
The lava holes were also used to evaporate water to collect the salt residue. There was a small bay that was to be used by the royals only. It has a ai’i in the bay to warn people of the kapu.

In the Hawaiian culture there were kapu’s that could not be broken. They included looking directly at the king, casting a shadow into the royal palace grounds, walking in the king’s footsteps, touching the kings possessions or getting too close to the king. A woman could not prepare food for or eat with a man. She could not eat food that were reserved for offerings to the gods. The killing of animals and gathering wood was strictly controlled. If a Kapu was broken the penalty was death. If the transgressor were not killed the gods could cause a tidal wave, earthquake, volcano eruption or cause famine.

Closeup of Pieta
Because of this the transgressors were pursued and killed. The only escape was to get to the village of refuge to be absolved of the crime by the Kahuna priests. The offenders could then return home within a few hours or the next day. All was forgiven as the kahuna law was respected.

The place of refuge was recreated with the ki’I guardian carvings. There was a large temple and mausoleum that houses the bones of the ancient king, Keawe’ikekahiali’i o kamoku the great grandfather of king Kamehameha I. It is a very sacred place that provided people with a second chance. No blood could be shed there. Warriors who were defeated could await the end of the conflict until after the battle. They aligned themselves with the victor when they left the sanctuary.

Noni tree

I got some great shots of the noni trees at the entrance to the site. Noni fruit are very strange looking... like white cactus minus the needles. When they are on the ground and decaying they smell like strong Limburger cheese. (take my word on this… very baad!)  The noni fruit was one of the medicinal fruits: it supports the immune system and has natural antioxidants.  Before the Europeans/whites came to Hawaii the Hawaiians did not have fevers, cold, diseases or venereal disease.

We also went to the “painted church” …. It was so charming. It had a lovely well tended graveyard with a wonderful garden. It is St. Benedict’s church. I took pictures of the inside but I feel they don’t really do justice to the warm, feeling of this little church…I believe in the 1920's a Belgium priest painted it: it helped tell Bible stories as many people did not read.

The Painted Church
.  Near the graveyard was a beautiful statue of St Mary. It had hundreds of shell Leis around her neck.

Then, Like it couldn’t get better, Ray spotted a statue up the hill. We walked up the path (next to the gravel road). On each side were crude wooden crosses with things written on them regarding Christ when he was carrying the cross….. And it ended at a wonderful statue of the Pieta (Michelangelo’s masterpiece) … we got some pictures of it. This stop was amazing and inspiring.

Koralifix says:
Nicely written story :)
Posted on: Feb 14, 2009
Sunflower300 says:
Wow. Thanks for sharing this lovely story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every work. :)
Posted on: Feb 22, 2008
Sweetski says:
What a great story. I especially like the part where one can go to the refuge and come back forgiven for any wrong doing. If I were to live back then, I would have had to spend many days there :)
Posted on: Feb 20, 2008
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kii at the entrance to the sanctu…
ki'i at the entrance to the sanct…
temple
temple
David with a large palm tree headr…
David with a large palm tree head…
Closeup of Pieta
Closeup of Pieta
Noni tree
Noni tree
The Painted Church
The Painted Church
kii ... guardians of the sanctuary
ki'i ... guardians of the sanctuary
Sylvia and David at the Puuhonua …
Sylvia and David at the Pu'uhonua…
This is one of the bowls carved in…
This is one of the bowls carved i…
Sanctuary park....
Sanctuary park....
This is part of the Royal grounds.…
This is part of the Royal grounds…
Coconuts.... Love them!
Coconuts.... Love them!
lava wall
lava wall
kii near the sanctuary wall
ki'i near the sanctuary wall
Sanctuary wall
Sanctuary wall
Tiles showing the history of the s…
Tiles showing the history of the …
A king
A king
Linda at the Sanctuary park
Linda at the Sanctuary park
This is the Sanctuary
This is the Sanctuary
David next to a Kii.  See the ban…
David next to a Ki'i. See the ba…
The bay where the royals came in..…
The bay where the royals came in.…
One of the Royal walls
One of the Royal walls
Inside the residence
Inside the residence
A dugout Canoe at the sanctuary
A dugout Canoe at the sanctuary
Graveyard next to the Painted Chur…
Graveyard next to the Painted Chu…
Freshwater ponds at the sanctuary
Freshwater ponds at the sanctuary
Freshwater fish ponds at sanctuary
Freshwater fish ponds at sanctuary
Artsy reflection of a palm
Artsy reflection of a palm
Freshwater fish ponds
Freshwater fish ponds
Sylvia & David
Sylvia & David
David and Ray
David and Ray
Linda & Ray
Linda & Ray
sylvia and Linda
sylvia and Linda
Sunset....
Sunset....
Sunset
Sunset
David and sylvia by the banyon tre…
David and sylvia by the banyon tr…
David and sylvia by the banyon tree
David and sylvia by the banyon tree
Orchids by the Painted Church
Orchids by the Painted Church
This was soon to be a beautiful su…
This was soon to be a beautiful s…
Breadfruit
Breadfruit
close up of a breadfruit
close up of a breadfruit
This sign is the first one and it …
This sign is the first one and it…
Pieta
Pieta
Pieta surrounded by the beautiful …
Pieta surrounded by the beautiful…
Mango
Mango
Father Benedict
Father Benedict
Sign out on the road
Sign out on the road
Painting in church
Painting in church
nave of church painted like the Ro…
nave of church painted like the R…
painting inside the church
painting inside the church
Ceiling
Ceiling
A scene from inside the Painted Ch…
A scene from inside the Painted C…
David and Ray on the walkway
David and Ray on the walkway
The Painted Church..See the devil …
The Painted Church..See the devil…
Father Benedict...
Father Benedict...
painted church support beam...  lo…
painted church support beam... l…
Across the flowers into the gravey…
Across the flowers into the grave…
St Mary with shell leis
St Mary with shell leis
St Mary with Shell Leis offerings.
St Mary with Shell Leis offerings.
orchid
orchid
The Fish Hopper Menu and Margarita…
The Fish Hopper Menu and Margarit…
Ray and Linda ; David and Sylvia a…
Ray and Linda ; David and Sylvia …
This is macadamia nut crusted chic…
This is macadamia nut crusted chi…
Seafood Alfredo
Seafood Alfredo
Macadamia crusted chicken, vegetab…
Macadamia crusted chicken, vegeta…
Passion fruit Cheese cake.
Passion fruit Cheese cake.
Fresh Vanilla bean Creme Brule
Fresh Vanilla bean Creme Brule
Kailua-Kona Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
We went to The Fish Hopper twice. Both times we got margaritas that were excellent. (two different bar tenders) We had an excellent meal. The pre… read entire review
Kailua-Kona Sights & Attractions review
Place of Refuge ~ pu'uhonnua ~ scenic sanctuary
The Place of Refuge or Pu'uhonnua O Ponaunau is an amazing place to visit. It holds a very important place in the Hawaiian culture. The bones o… read entire review
Kailua-Kona
photo by: sylviandavid