In the legend, Pakaʻa was the child of a traveling royal named Kuanuʻuanu and a beautiful common woman named Laʻamaomao. Kuanu'uanu was summoned back to his leige Keawenuiaumi before Pakaʻa's birth. Pakaʻa was then raised by Laʻamaomao and her elder brother Maʻilou, who Pakaʻa was told was his father. Pakaʻa however questioned this, because despite his young age, he was much taller than Maʻilou.
He later served under Keawenuiaumi and taught his son Ku-a-Pakaʻa to follow in his footsteps.