Mamalahoe : Law of the Splintered Paddle

Article 9, Section 10 of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii dates back to King Kamehameha, in 1797. It states “Let every elderly person, woman and child lie by the roadside in safety”. As with all things Hawai’ian, there is an accompanying legend: When Kamehameha was younger, he was chasing two fisherman. Unfortunately, his leg got caught in the reef. One of the fisherman smacked him in the head with a paddle, which splintered into many pieces. Kamehameha survived and went on to unite the Hawai’ian islands. At one point during his reign, the fisherman was brought before him. Kamehameha, being the absolute ruler of the land, was well within his rights to have the man killed. However, Kamehameha stated that the man was protecting his land and family, and should be spared. This law is today the model of modern human rights. The native Hawai’ians were brutal, but honorable.

Here is the English Translation of the original Law:

Law of the Splintered Paddle:
O my people,
Honor thy god;
respect alike [the rights of] men great and humble;
See to it that our aged, our women, and our children
Lie down to sleep by the roadside
Without fear of harm.
Disobey, and die.

King Kamehameha, a real stand up guy.

King Kamehameha, a real stand up guy.

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Published in: on July 14, 2009 at 5:52 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. But, the real question is – is he standing up in this picture? And if not, is he still a standup guy?


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