Pai‘ea Projects (PP) is a Hawaiian design company. The name “Pai‘ea” (which means “hard-shelled crab”) refers to the nickname given to Kamehameha, and our alma mater, the Kamehameha Schools. “Projects” refers to our diverse work and various endeavors – clothing, press kits, logos, buisness cards, flyers, t-shirts, stickers, stencils and other branding tools.

Twelve years ago, three Kamehameha Kapālama alumni launched Pai’ea Projects by collaborating with FITTED on the “Hawaiian Throwback Pack” that commemorated the achievement of King Kamehameha unifying the Hawaiian Islands. In 2022, they’re running it back with “Puukohola 2.0” a collection celebrating the construction of Puukohola Heiau on Moku O Keawe.

  • Pu'ukoholā 2.0

    In the days of our ali'i, Kōnane was used to test battle strategies. This Hawaiian two-player game was played on a rectangular board with black and white pieces similar to chess. Kōnane was an intellectual training for a warrior, which measured their ability to strategize an attack, foresee their opponentsʻ next move, and plan their defenses. Pai‘ea learned from some of the best at Kōnane: Kekuhaupi'o (his guardian) was revered as a Kōnane master and Kahekili (some believed to be his father) notably used Kōnane to illustrate his battle plan to his chiefs.

     

    "Because your next move gotta be your best move." – Kauwila. "Konane." Lehua. Daniel Kauwila Mahi, 2020.

     

    One of Pai‘ea's most important moves to uniting the Hawaiian Islands was activating Kūka'ilimoku (snatcher of lands) by constructing Pu'ukoholā. This heiau was 250 feet long, 100 feet wide, with surrounding walls 12 feet thick, rising up 8 feet in height on the upper side, and 20 feet on the lower side. This maneuver elevated Pai‘ea in the chiefly ranks, granting him the mana to defeat his rivals in battle and conquering the islands.

     

    “If you’re plottin’ your next move, I suggest you move into the pō so remote that you lose control to be in tune with the moon, plot your ʻaha now, the time is comin’ soon." – Kauwila. "Konane." Lehua. Daniel Kauwila Mahi, 2020.

  • The “Snatch” embroidery on the left leg of the basketball shorts is Kūka‘ilimoku (Snatcher of Lands) and the right leg features the Fitted Kam and PP silhouette.

  • The vertical red stripes of the Pu‘ukoholā 2.0 collection represent the ‘aha‘ula – the red cord that was used by Pai‘ea and his council to decide who would go to Ka‘ū to fetch Keōuakū‘ahu‘ula. In order to fulfill the prophecy of Kapoukahi, Pu‘ukoholā needed to be consecrated with an offering of ali‘i blood. Keōuakū‘ahu‘ula was an appropriate royal status for this offering and also a rival of Paiea.

     

    Upon the completion of Pu‘ukoholā, there was a conference of Pai‘eaʻs high chiefs and priests where it was decided that Kame‘eaimoku and Kamanawa would fetch Keōuakū‘ahu‘ula. Pai‘ea did not like that idea, and instead wanted to personally go to Ka‘ū to prevent massive death on both sides. To settle the discourse between Pai‘ea and his council there was a question posed to the ‘aha‘ula. The kapu surrounding the ‘aha‘ula  was heavy so when the red cord revealed the answer then no ali‘i could dispute the answer. They asked the god of war, Kūkai‘ilimoku: “Shall Pai‘ea go to Ka‘ū to fetch his cousin, Keōuakū‘ahu‘ula?”

     

    The ali‘i desiring the answer to the question would stand under the ‘aha‘ula and if the red cord fell or broke while the chief stood underneath the answer would be “yes.” If the ‘aha‘ula remained intact then the god did not consent. Pai‘ea stood under the ‘aha‘ula for a day and the red cord remained taut. The next day the ‘aha‘ula was pulled taut again and the twins of Kekaulike, Kame‘eiamoku and Kamanawa, stood beneath the red cord, but it remained intact. The day after the ‘aha‘ula was pulled taut again, and then the chief, Keaweaheulu, stood under the ‘aha‘ula and it broke. Therefore, Keaweaheulu, an uncle of Keōuakū‘ahu‘ula, was sent to Ka‘ū and brought back Keōuakū‘ahu‘ula to Pu‘ukoholā to be sacrificed.

  • In 1791, construction of Pu‘ukholā heiau in Kawaihae on Hawai‘i Island was completed. We chose #91 for the Pu‘ukoholā 2.0 collection basketball jersey to commemorate this momentous achievement in Hawaiian history. Thousands of people were said to have formed a human chain, carrying stones from Pololū Valley to Kawaihae. No one was exempt from the labor, from high chiefs down to the commoners. Pai‘ea directed all of his ali‘i to work on the construction of Pu‘ukoholā. The only sacred chief who was instructed not to lift a rock for the heiau was Pai‘eaʻs younger brother, Keli‘imaika‘i, who had the Kuleana of preserving the kapu of Kūkai‘ilimoku and Pu‘ukoholā.