Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
City of Refuge
In ancient times, Hawaiians lived under strict laws. Commoners could not get too close to the chief, nor were they allowed to touch any of his possessions, walk in his footsteps or even let their shadows touch the royal grounds. The penalty for violating a sacred kapu (taboo) was death.
Breaking a kapu was believed to incur the wrath of the gods. Hawaiians often chased down an offender and swiftly put him to death unless he could reach a puuhonua, or place of refuge. There he could be absolved by a kahuna (priest) in a purification ceremony, then return home with his transgression forgiven. Defeated warriors and non-combatants could also find refuge here during times of battle. Built around 1550 from thousands of lava rocks, which separated the chief’s home from the puuhonua. Inside this 1,000-foot-long wall are fine examples of temples and homes of old Hawaii.