Sometimes when revisiting an old friend it is best for your own growth just to listen and absorb the knowledge and wisdom that comes from their stories of experience and history. Mauna Ala, The Royal Mausoleum in Nuuanu, is a spiritual place, a peaceful home where the iwi, or bones, of Hawaii’s rich ancestry including dozens of generations of King Kamehameha’s royal family are interred, resting as their uhane or spirits envelop the earth and wind that surround us.
Within the walls of Mauna Ala and for the past 16 years, William Kaikeekai Maioho lives and works as kahu or caretaker helping to preserve Hawaii’s regal lineage, reminding us of the vast history that has connected our island nation from what it was hundreds of years ago to where we stand today.
“I lived here with my grandparents when I was young until I was about 11 years old and from that time the uhane have given me gifts. It was here as a child that the uhane fell in love with me and now tolerate me as an adult,” says Maioho, who was featured on MidWeek‘s cover May 19, 2004.
As a descendant of Kamehameha The Great’s high chiefs Hoapili and Ho’olulu brothers who are known to have secretly buried Kamehameha’s iwi after his passing Maioho’s knowledge of Hawaii’s ancient secrets is truly omnipresent.
“Our family descends from the younger brother Ho’olulu, my mother Lydia Namahanaikaleleokalani Taylor Maioho was here for 28 years before me, and her father Uncle Bill Taylor was first appointed to Mauna Ala in 1946 before the gates were open to the public,” adds Maioho, above holding the key to the Kalakaua tomb.
Maioho leads a tranquil life, privileged to be able to honor and pass on the mana’o of the kings, queens and chiefs of Hawaii’s royal ancestry to our community.
“We have many school groups, halaus, and kupuna groups that come to visit, and the most involved is Kamehameha Schools. Students from Kamehameha come from the time they are in fourth grade to give their ho’okupu, a dance and chant at the Kamehameha’s tomb sites.”
As his duties as kahu of the royal iwi have been passed down through the generations, Maioho will soon to do the same to his son William Bishop Kaiheekai Maioho.
Maioho’s trusted guardianship of Hawaii’s entombed kingdom has not gone unnoticed by the Royal Societies or Aha Hipu’u. On Aug. 27, Maioho will be honored at the sixth annual Kalani Ali’i Awards Banquet for his influential perpetuation of Hawaii’s culture and history.
“This is my kuleana to the iwi of the Kamehamehas and Kalakaua’s to love them and honor. When your peers and kupuna recognize your position in our modern Hawaiian community it is overwhelming,” says Maioho.
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