So, in Sun and Moon, once you finish your Island Challenge, you get to go to Mount Lanakila for the very first Pokemon League in Alola. You get to face the Elite Four, filled with familiar faces: Hala, Olivia, Acerola, and… Kahili? Who the heck is Kahili?
Well, if you talk to the NPCs around the Hano Resort, she’s a renowned golfer, and her father owns the resort. Okay, great, is there anything else? She tells you that she’d completed the Island Challenge, too, which is why Kukui asked her to join the League. Okay, great, anything else? She shows up at the resort in the postgame and gives you a TM. Cool, is there more?
Well, no, that’s really all the game gives you. Or is it?
There’s a few things that appear to have been dummied out. At the Hano resort, there are two signs that appear to point to something to the right, about a golf hole. And if you look at the town map on Rotom, there’s even a golf hole off to the side of the hotel. (Note, that a full course would have 18 holes.)
Not to mention that there is a Trainer Class called Golfer in this game. Granted they’re just existing models with props slapped on, but they’re there. It stands to reason that these Golfers would probably be at that hole, likely with Kahili.
Further, there are only seven Captains. And four Kahunas. Typically, there have been eight Gym Leaders and four Elite Four members. These actually closely fit one another. After all, two of the four Kahunas are E4 members, and according to Acerola, Kukui asked Nanu as well, but he declined. And Poni didn’t have a Kahuna for a while until Hapu took up the position, so Kukui might not have asked her either due to it being so last minute, or he didn’t want to add more pressure to her brand new position. Who really knows.
Anywho, it’s entirely possible that Kahili was intended to be a Captain. At the very least, a more prominent character. Evidence of the latter can actually be found in the demo.
There’s a female Ace Trainer standing in front of the Apparel Shop who talks about Kahili in the demo. The demo which was released a month before the games were. Note that no other Trial Captains were mentioned in the demo, not even Ilima. I don’t even think Hala was mentioned, nor were the other three Kahuna.
So why was Kahili talked about? The demo usually made mention of things that might be worth looking into in the main game, after all.
My guess is whatever changes that were made to Kahili’s place in the story, they were done very late into development. Why the changes were made, I have no idea. Maybe they were struggling to implement a feature that would’ve been integral to the whole idea. Maybe the overall pace of the game would’ve been thrown off. I don’t know.
All I can figure is that a lot of what Kahili was about was cut, but at least they decided to keep her in herself.