Heiau O Māmalahoa was established by Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole on July 3, 1907 in Hilo, Moku O Keawe (Island of Hawai‘i) as the second chapter of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I. Māmalahoa was solemnly dedicated to support the Hawaiian Kingdom and uplift Kānaka ‘Ōiwi (aboriginal peoples of Hawai‘i).
Māmalahoa is commonly known to be named after the Kānāwai Māmalahoe (also pronounced Māmalahoa), Kamehameha’s great law (Law of the Splintered Paddle) that protects the week from the strong when traveling.
However, according to kaona (words with double meanings) and mo‘olelo (story and history), Māmalahoa is actually named after Kamehameha’s personal nā kahu ali‘i (guardians of the chief) called Māmalahoa (striking war club). This elite pū‘ulu koa (unit of warriors), served Kamehameha (c.1782-1812) and were recognized for their skill and courage in battle and respected for their honor and loyalty to Kamehameha. This kaona inoa (double meaning name) was chosen by Prince Jonah Kūhiō to inspire the members of Māmalahoa to imua (move forward) and ho‘omau (persevere) as modern day warriors.
Today, Māmalahoa acts to protect, preserve, and perpetuate, the Kānaka ‘Ōiwi culture. The core values of Māmalahoa include the recognition of ke Akua, living Aloha, and promoting the ‘ohana as the fundamental building block to build strong communities and a strong Lahui (Hawaiian Nation). In addition, Māmalahoa promotes sovereignty of self, i.e., living a life free of addiction, substance abuse, prejudice, ignorance, and fear; presents the annual Kamehameha Festival in honor of Kamehameha I (KamehamehaFestival.org); encourages and develops kāne leadership in the home and community; protects wahi pana (sacred places); and advocates for the preservation and advancement of Kānaka ‘Ōiwi rights and benefits through political activism.