Aloha Authentic: Law of the Splintered Paddle

Aloha Authentic

HONOLULU (KHON2) — KHON2’s weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various roadways across the pae ʻāina so the meaning of their names can be uncovered. 

It is time to bring attention to what is known as the “Law of the Splintered Paddle.” 

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Circling the island of Hawaiʻi, passing through all moku, stands the main roadway that takes everyone back to the first written law of Kamehameha’s kingdom.   

That roadway is Māmalahoa Highway.  

The word “Māmalahoa” is often referred to as “Māmalahoe,” and that can be translated as “splintered paddle.”  

Known as “Ke Kānāwai Māmalahoe,” the “Law of the Splintered Paddle” protected the innocent and defenseless from unprovoked attacks, especially kūpuna and keiki

It stated they should be able to sleep safely along the side of the road unharmed.    

Those who disregarded this by attacking, robbing or murdering Kamehameha’s subjects would be punished by death.  

It derived after Kamehameha chased after innocent fishermen. 

When his foot got stuck in a fissure, one of the fishermen struck Kamehamehaʻs head with a paddle and splintered it, allowing him to escape. 

Kamehameha created the Law of the Splintered Paddle after realizing his mistake.   

The law remains in our State Constitution, which was added back in 1978. 

Did you know? Now you do! 

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