St. Peter’s Church and Keumanu Heiau
Built in 1880, St. Peter’s Church has survived more than 100 years, thanks to its small size and the devotion of its congregation. It originally stood about 1 mile north of its present site on a parcel of land near Laaloa Beach, known as Magic Sands Beach.
In 1912, the church was dismantled and carried piece by piece to its present site at Kahaluu. Donkeys and strong members of the congregation did the heavy work. In 1938, Father Benno of St. Michael’s added the porch and belfry to the original structure. St. Peter’s has been pushed off its foundation by two separate tsunamis. St. Peter’s congregation and friends have worked quickly to place the church back where it belongs.
The church sits upon what is said to be the former residence of the kahuna (priest) of Kuemanu Heiau. The stone temple was dedicated to the sport of surfing. Here, Hawaiians of old could pray for good surfing weather and, consequently, good sport. Just north of St. Peter’s is the platform or terrace of the heiau, where chiefs and their families could enjoy watching surfers at Kahaluu Bay. Nearby is a small brackish pool known as Waikui (Pounding Waters), now stagnant and unused. In old Hawaii, Waikui was a place used by chiefs to rinse the salt off after surfing. As the old customs disappeared, the pond became a convenient place to wash clothes in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Kuemanu Heiau is part of the Kahaluu Historic District.
Copyright 1998 Kona Historical Society. Reprinted by permission.