Laie was a puuhonua, a sanctuary for fugitives. While a fugitive was in the pu'uhonua, it was unlawful for that fugitive's pursuers to harm him or her. During wartime, spears with white flags attached were set up at each end of the city of refuge. If warriors attempted to pursue fugitives into the puuhonua, they would be killed by sanctuary priests. Fugitives seeking sanctuary in a city of refuge were not forced to permanently live within the confines of its walls. Instead, they were given two choices: In some cases, after a certain length of time (ranging from a couple of weeks to several years), fugitives could enter the service of the priests and assist in the daily affairs of the puuhonua. A second option was that after a certain length of time the fugitives would be free to leave and re-enter the world unmolested. Traditional cities of refuge were abolished in 1819.The history of Laie begins long before first contact. The name Laie is said to derive from two Hawaiian words: lau meaning "leaf", and ie referring to the ieie (red-spiked climbing screwpine, Freycinetia arborea), which wreaths forest trees of the uplands or mauka regions of the mountains of the Koʻolau Range behind the community of Laie. In Hawaiian mythology, this red-spiked climbing screwpine is sacred to Kane, god of the earth, god of life, and god of the forests, as well as to Laka, the patron goddess of the hula.The name Laie becomes more environmentally significant through the Hawaiian oral history (kaao ) entitled Laieikawai. In this history, the term ikawai, which means "in the water," also belongs to the food-producing tree called kalalaikawa. The kalalaikawa tree was planted in a place called Paliula's garden, which is closely associated with the spiritual home, after her birth and relocation of Laieikawai. According to Hawaiian oral traditions, the planting of the kalalaikawa tree in the garden of Paliula is symbolic of the reproductive energy of male and female, which union in turns fills the land with offspring. From its close association with nature through its name, and through its oral traditions and history, the community of Laie takes upon itself a precise identification and a responsibility in perpetuating life and in preserving all life forms. Sometimes the land itself provided sanctuary for the Hawaiian people. Laie was such a place. The earliest information about Laie states that it was a small, sparsely populated village with a major distinction: "it was a city of refuge." Within this city of refuge were located at least two heiau traditional Hawaiian temples, of which very little remains today. Moohekili heiau was destroyed, but its remains can be found in taro patches makai (seaward) of the LDS Church's Laie Hawaii Temple. Towards the mountain (mauka), the remains of Nioi heiau can be found on a small ridge. All that is left of Nioi is a coral platform.Between 1846 and 1848, the traditional Hawaiian feudal ownership of land by the king, the ali'i nui, and his leading chiefs or konohiki was changed through the Great mahele, or major land division. The Ali’i nui at the time was Kauikeouli King Kamehameha III and his konohiki (leading chief) for Laie was Peni Keali’iwaiwaiole (which means The Chief without Riches); the wife to this konohiki descended directly from the Ali’i nui of Oahu named Kakuiewa, making his wife of higher rank than he. The result of the mahele was not in compliance with the original intent of Kamehameha III. The result was that the chiefs received about 1500000 acre, the king kept about 1 e6acre, which were called crown lands, and about 1 e6acre were set aside as government lands.The land of the mahele itself was cut up into parcels, much like the traditional Hawaiian land divisions, centering around the ahupua'a, which followed a fairly uniform pattern. Each parcel was shaped roughly like a piece of pie with the tip in the mountains, the middle section in the foothills and coastal plain, and the broad base along the ocean front and the sea. The size and shape of the ahupua'a varied. However, the purpose of these remained the same. The village of Laie is located in the ahupua'a of Laie. As such, Laie followed the general pattern of life in the ahupua'a, but only the valleys in the foothills had ample water. There were ten streams that flowed through the ahupua'a of Laie before 1865 (see 1865 map). Their names were: Kahooleinapea, Kaluakauila, Kahawainui, Kaihihi, Kawaipapa, Kawauwai, Wailele, Koloa, Akakii, and Kokololio. There were more streams flowing through the ahupua'a of Laie than through any of the other surrounding ahupua'a, surrounding ahupua'ainclude Kaipapau and Hauula to the southeast and Malaekahana, Keana, and Kahuku to the northwest.A new phase of development for Laie began when the plantation of that name was purchased by George Nebeker, the President of the Hawaiian Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Latter-day Saints in Hawaii were then encouraged to move to this location. This purchase occurred in 1865. The sugar plantation was rarely profitable, and through 1879 the church had subsidized its operations with about $40,000.Soon after the settlement a sugar factory was built. Much of the land was used to grow sugar, but other food crops were also raised. Significantly, Laie was one of the few sugar plantations where both kalo and sugar were grown simultaneously. This was unusual because sugar and kalo are both thirsty crops. In the plantation economy of Hawaii in the late 19th century and early 20th century, kalo usually lost out to sugar. One of the reasons both kalo and sugar grew on the plantation is because of the commitment of Hawaiian plantation workers to growing their staple. Their dedication to growing kalo included their insistence that Saturday not be a work day on the plantation so that they could make poi for their families. Both schools and church buildings were constructed in the town in the ensuing years.Samuel E. Woolley, who served as mission president for 24 years, pushed the expansion of the operations at Laie. In 1898 he negotiated a $50,000 loan that allowed for the building of a new pump.The Hawaiian mission was headquartered in Laie until 1919 when the headquarters were moved to Honolulu, but by then the temple had been built in Laie, so it remained the spiritual center of the Latter-day Saint community in Hawaii.