A traditionalist to the very end, Kamehameha nonetheless preferred to be depicted in Western clothing, often to the annoyance of the painters who wished to portray him in traditional Hawaiian regalia. 'You probably wouldnt have bet on Kamehameha, if you had been alive at the time, because he is definitely the junior branch of the great family. 'Its probable that given the war technology available, and the balance of power among family dynasties at that time, that some outside influence had to enter the picture before any king could actually conquer the universe. And its the West and their Western weapons, with a few excellent fighting men, who tilt the balance towards one of the several alii who might have ruled the world.' During the period when Western ships were first arriving in the Hawaiian Islands, Kamehameha managed to 'convince' two seamen, John Young and Isaac Davies, to remain with him. Like other major chiefs in the Islands, Kamehameha worked to accrue western guns and cannon. But unlike the other chiefs, Kamehameha had these skilled men to use them. “The story actually starts with the battle of Kepaniwai on Maui in 1790,' explains Jerry Walker, who teaches lua (Hawaiian military arts) in Nu‘uanu.
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'After that battle, Kamehameha sent two emissaries over to O‘ahu; one to talk to Kahekili and the other to seek out a kahuna here, who told him to go to Kawaihae and build the heiau at Pu‘u Kohola. There Kamehameha’s rival Keoua was sacrificed, and that allowed Kamehameha to unite the Big Island. 'Subsequently, he went through Maui and the islands of Moloka‘i and Lana‘i. And when Kahekili died, that provided Kamehameha an opportunity in the early part of 1795. So it was almost a 5-year process.' Pu‘u Kohola heiau at Kawaihae, island of Hawai‘i. After the battles between Kalanikupule and Ka‘eo, described by Jim on the Old O‘ahu page, Kalanikupule turned on the two British sea captains that had helped him, killed them and took their ships.
“But in the process of going to the Big Island, the bosuns’ mates had an insurrection,' Jerry continues, 'they regained their ships and turned Kalanikupule and his troops loose to swim back to O‘ahu. 'The British seamen subsequently went to the Big Island and told Kamehameha, so Kamehameha got a lot of their arms, and he prepared for the next couple of months to make war on Kalanikupule.” Looking east from Punchbowl.
Kamehameha's canoes landed along the coastline from Diamond Head and beyond, and marched this way to engage the O‘ahu forces at the foot of Punchbowl. 'As we look from Punchbowl out easterly at Diamond Head and Kaimuki’s backbone, this is where the majority of Kamehameha’s troops progressed after they landed. A small portion of Kamehameha’s troops came through the Waikiki area—those that had landed in the forward part of Diamond Head—but the vast majority of the troops came directly from the East, through Kahala and Kaimuki, marching to the front of Punchbowl where they were to engage the O‘ahu forces. The O‘ahu forces were organizing around what is now Thomas Square, where the Ward Estate and McKinley School are located.'