Ahu A Umi Heiau is located in the Big Island’s Kona district on a high plateau between two formidable volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Hualalai. A center of Hawaiian government, Ahu A Umi Heiau was constructed around 1500 A.D.
Ahu A Umi means “Shrine at the temple of Umi” referring to the Big Island ruler Umi-a-Liloa whose reign was during the 1500s. He moved the center of his government from Waipio Valley to this location. Some say the name is more properly spelled Ahua A Umi meaning “Mound of Umi.”
A takeover attempt was mounted at Ahu A Umi against Keawe Nui, the son of Umi. In ancient times the heiau was surrounded by many large stone cairns which measured about seven feet in diameter and stood about four meters tall. The complex also includes structures directionally aligned with astronomical features.
Today parts of the heiau remain intact despite the fact that the site was used as a cattle corral during the 1800s. Ahu A Umi is not easily accessed despite some proposals to develop the Mauna Loa trails system to include the area. The heiau is located about 5,000 feet (1,500 m) above sea level.
Ahu A Umi Heiau is located in the upper part of the ahupuaa (traditional watershed land division) called Keauhou and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Ahu A Umi is located on the same high plateau as the Pohakuloa Training Area run by the U.S. Army.