Battle of Nu`uanu
World History

Battle of Nu`uanu

The Battle of Nu`uanu was fought in the late 18th century on the Hawaiian island of O?ahu. It was the battle that allowed Kamehameha I to annex the entire island of O'ahu.

Wikipedia notes of the battle, "The Nu?uanu Pali was the site of one of the bloodiest battles in Hawaiian history, in which Kamehameha I conquered the island of the O?ahu, bringing it under his rule. In 1795 Kamehameha I sailed from his home island of Hawai?i with an army of 10,000 soldiers. After conquering the islands of Maui and Moloka?i, he moved on to O?ahu. The pivotal battle for the island occurred in Nu?uanu Valley, where the defenders of O?ahu, led by Kalanikupule, were driven back up into the valley where they were trapped above the cliff. Thousands of Kalanikupule's soldiers were driven off the edge of the cliff to their deaths 1,000 feet below."

The name of the battle in Hawaiian is Ka-lele-a-ke-anae. Some of the O'ahu warriors managed to escape but many more died fighting. Others were captured and sacrificed. Years later, over 800 skulls were found at the base of the cliff.

No consent was given by the people of O'hau to join the Hawaiian Kingdom. But it happened anyway. This battle literally allowed Kamehameha I to become the first king of a unified Hawaiian Kingdom which endured until 1893. There remains some bitterness on O'hau over the results of the battle but thankfully no one has started an independence movement based on it yet. (If you are interested in doing so, follow my 8 Tips for Creating an American Separatist Cause although in this case start with the premise that the Hawaiian Kingdom was the original occupying power and argue that all subsequent transfers in sovereignty are invalid.)

Unfortunately, there is not a lot on the web dealing with this important battle. Here are a few online resources which can give some more details:

A Native Place: Battle of Nu'uanu - This is the best site I can find on this subject.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin Feature on the Battle - This is basically a plug for a book with some details on the event.

The Battle at Nu'uanu Pali -This site is selling a poster of the battle but has some details.

One book which has been published on this event is The Battle of Nu'uanu -- May, 1795 by Rob James (Kamehameha Schools Press). A quick search of Historical Abstracts reveals nothing. However, I may have missed something. If you know of any other sources on the Battle of Nu`uanu, feel free to leave a comment here listing the citation.

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