1800 - 1850
The Exploits of Georg Anton Schäffer
‘Ōpūkaha‘ia—The First Christian Hawaiian
The Hawaiian Flag
The Breaking of the Kapu
The Mission Houses
Humehume and Kaua‘i’s Last Rebellion
Kapiolani, by Lord Alfred Tennyson
The Twelve Companies of American Missionaries
The Demise of Boki
The Hawaiian Language
Common Hawaiian Words
Hiram Bingham (1789—1869)
Scholars of Hawaiian History
French / Catholics
The Whaling Era
In 1815, John Palmer Parker arrived in Waimea, Hawai‘i to kill wild cattle for King Kamehameha I. Kamehameha hired Parker to shoot the cattle, which had proliferated in Waimea due to a kapu (prohibition) placed upon them with the intention of letting the animals multiply after they were brought to the island by George Vancouver.
The cattle were killed for their meat, which was salted and sold to visiting ships. The hides were also exported. Parker claimed to have shot well more than 1,000 cattle.
Parker later married a Hawaiian princess, the cousin of Kānekapōlei, the wife of the high chief Kalani‘ōpu‘u. Parker began acquiring grazing land and building up a herd of tame cattle, and he also built a sawmill.
John Palmer Parker’s son, John Palmer Parker II, continued to increase the size of Parker Ranch. In 1943, 30-year-old Richard Palmer Smart became the sole owner of Parker Ranch, the second largest private ranch in the United States at more than a half million acres.
The Exploits of Georg Anton Schäffer
Georg Anton (Egor Nikoloaevich) Schäffer (1779-1836) was a surgeon in the Russian army, and had built hot air balloons in Moscow in 1812 to observe the movements of Napoleon’s armies. In 1815, the Russian-American Company sent Schäffer to the Hawaiian Islands to retrieve or seek appropriate payment for the cargo of the Behring, which had wrecked on Kaua‘i.
When Schäffer first arrived at the end of 1815, he cured King Kamehameha I of a feverish cold, and was given land on O‘ahu. Schäffer then began building a blockhouse on the Honolulu waterfront, causing John Young (I) [‘Olohana] (c.1749-1835) to persuade King Kamehameha to halt the work. (See 1815.)
With three Russian ships and their crews, Schäffer then traveled to Kaua‘i where he befriended Kaua‘i’s vassal ruler, Kaumuali‘i. On May 21, 1816, Schäffer enticed Kaumuali‘i to sign a document putting Kaua‘i under the protection of the Russian Czar, Alexander Pavlovich. Schäffer proceeded to build Fort Elizabeth at Waimea, Kaua‘i, naming the fort in honor the consort of the Russian Emperor.
Fort Elizabeth overlooked Waimea Bay, with guns positioned to protect the anchorage’s trading vessels. Schäffer also built two forts in Hanalei, Kaua‘i, including Fort Alexander overlooking the mouth of the Hanalei River and Fort Barclay on Hanalei Bay.
Though Schäffer was overstepping his authority, he sought a trade monopoly for Russia, and in return promised Kaumuali‘i independence from King Kamehameha I and conquests of other Hawaiian Islands Kaumuali‘i felt he had a hereditary right to rule. Schäffer in turn would get rights to all of the valuable sandalwood growing on O‘ahu.
Kaumuali‘i had ceded the island of Kaua‘i to King Kamehameha I in 1810, however, so the vassal ruler’s agreement with Schäffer was considered treasonous. Nevertheless the Czar’s flag flew over Kaua‘i and Schäffer built two more forts in Hanalei.
When Otto von Kotzebue on the Russian Navy brig Rurik visited the Hawaiian Islands in 1816, he repudiated Schäffer’s acts. In May of 1817, Kaumuali‘i renounced his agreement with Schäffer, who was soon forced to leave the Hawaiian Islands.
On July 7, 1817, Schäffer left on the American vessel Panther headed for Macao. In 1821, Schäffer went to Brazil and was made a nobleman by Emperor Dom Pedro I, under the title of Count von Frankenthal.
‘Ōpūkaha‘ia—The First Christian Hawaiian
‘Ōpūkaha‘ia was born in 1792, and was just an infant when his parents and brother were killed at Kaipalaoa on Hawai‘i Island in an encounter known as Nāmakaehā’s Rebellion, the last battle of King Kamehameha I, at Kaipaloa in south Hilo in September of 1796.
This conflict was instigated by Nāmakaehā, the cousin of Ka‘iana‘ahu‘ula [Keawe-Ka‘iana a ‘Ahu‘ula; Ka‘iana], the half-brother of the high chief Kahekilinui‘ahumanu [Kahekili].
When Kamehameha’s warriors arrived, Nāmakaehā’s forces were in control of Hilo. A battle ensued at Kaipaloa in south Hilo and ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia’s parents and brother were killed. Nāmakaehā was offered as a sacrifice to Kamehameha’s war god Kūkā‘ilimoku at the heiau at Pi‘ihonua.
After his parents were killed, ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia was raised in Nāpō‘opo‘ō on Kealakekua Bay by his kahuna (priest) uncle. In 1809, ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia left the Hawaiian Islands for New England (Connecticut) on the ship Triumph, under the command of Captain Caleb Brintnall.
The ship first went to the Seal Islands in the American northwest, and then stopped in the Hawaiian Islands before going to Canton, China, New York, and finally to New Haven, Connecticut.
‘Ōpūkaha‘ia was influenced by students of Andover Seminary and Yale College, and he became a Christian and took the name Henry Obookiah. He began translating the Bible into Hawaiian and had plans to travel back to the Hawaiian Islands but died of typhus fever in Cornwall, Connecticut on February 17, 1818 at the age of 26.
Considered the first Hawaiian convert to Christianity, ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia’s had planned to return to the Hawaiian Islands with the First Company of American missionaries.
On July 26, 1993, ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia’s remains, which had been buried in Connecticut since 1818, were returned to Hawai‘i Island. On August 15, 1993 the remains were reburied at Kahikolu Cemetery in Nāpō‘opo‘o, South Kona.
The Hawaiian Flag
In 1794, Kamehameha I received a gift of a British flag (a Union Jack) from British Captain George Vancouver. (See 1794, February 25.) Before the Hawaiian flag was originated, the Hawaiian people had not used flags in the manner of other nations.
The Hawaiians did have the kāhili (royal feather standard), and the puela (triangular kapa strip), which was often carried on canoes. They also had the pūlo‘ulo‘u (kapa-covered stick ), which was carried in front of the chiefs to signal kapu (sacredness).
By 1816, a uniquely Hawaiian flag was created, though there is still much uncertainty regarding its exact origins and the intent of its designers, including King Kamehameha I. Alexander Adams is believed to be the one who placed the Union Jack at the upper left corner, inspiring today’s Hawaiian flag. (See 1817.)
A January 1, 1862 letter to the editor of the Hawaiian newspaper Ka Nupepa Kū‘oko‘a stated: “The Hawaiian flag was designed for King Kamehameha I in the year 1816. As the King desired to send a vessel to China, to sell a cargo of sandal wood, he in company of John Young, Isaac Davis...and Captain Alexander Adams...made this flag for the ship, which was a war vessel called the Forester, carrying 16 guns, and was owned by King Kamehameha I. The flag having been made, the vessel sailed for Macao, China where the flag was not credited nor recognized as a government flag...”[i]
The flag flown on the Forester (renamed Kaahumanu) differed from today’s Hawaiian flag in that it did not contain the diagonal cross of St. Patrick, because the British ensign initially included only the cross of St. Andrew and St. George. The diagonal cross of St. Patrick was added in 1801, and soon also appeared on the official flag of the Hawaiian Islands.
The eight horizontal stripes of the Hawaiian flag represent the eight main Hawaiian Islands. The colors of the stripes are alternating red, white and blue, with red said to symbolize Hawaiian gods, white symbolizing truth, and blue for the ocean.
The flag was used to represent the Kingdom of Hawai‘i, the Republic, the Territory, and finally the State of Hawai‘i. There was originally a ninth stripe (bar), apparently representing the archipelago, but the number of stripes was reduced to eight after statehood.
“The national ensign shall consist of eight horizontal stripes, alternating white, red, blue, etc., beginning at the top, having a jack cantoned in the dexter chief angle next to the point of suspension. The jack shall consist of a blue field charge with a compound saltire of alternate tinctures white and red, the white having precedence; a narrow edge of white borders each red side of the saltire. A red cross bordered with white is charged over all. The jack is half the hoist and 7/16 the fly in length. The arms of the red cross with border shall be equal in width to one of the horizontal stripes; the white border shall be one third the width of the red cross.”
The Hawaiian Statutes of 1896, Chapter 10[ii]
[Illustration or Photographs: Hawaiian Flag; British Flag (comparison)]
The Breaking of the Kapu
King Kamehameha’s 24-year-old son Kalaninui ‘Iolani Liholiho, took the throne as King Kamehameha II on May 20, 1819. Within months of assuming the throne, the king ate food in public with the dowager queens Ka‘ahumanu and Keōpūolani [Keōpūolanikauhiakama; Kalanikauika‘alaneokeōpūolani], thus breaking the kapu (prohibition) against men and women eating together. This was known as the ‘Ai Noa. (‘Ai Noa means “to eat freely, without observance of taboos.”)
The feast during which the kapu was broken was attended by several foreigners as well as high chiefs. When the defiant act brought no retribution from the gods, eating together was no longer kapu, and this began a process that eroded away at traditional Hawaiian religious beliefs and eventually led to the complete overturning of the traditional kapu system. Many sacred temples were dismantled and abandoned, and idols were burned.
Kekuaokalani, the son of King Kamehameha I’s younger brother, Keli‘imaika‘i [Keali‘imaka‘i; Kalanimālokuloku; Kalanimāloku; Kalanimālokulokuikepo‘okalani; Kalanimālokulokuikapo‘okalani], rebelled against King Kamehameha II’s abolishment of the eating kapu. Kekuaokalani was the keeper of King Kamehameha I’s renowned war god Kūkā‘ilimoku, and was encouraged to revolt by revered kāhuna (high priests) including Kūāiwa and Holoialena.
In 1819, Kekuaokalani fought the forces of King Kamehameha II (Kalaninui ‘Iolani Liholiho) at the Battle of Kuamo‘o on Hawai‘i Island. Both sides were armed with Western weapons. Kalanimoku [Kālaimoku; William (Billy) Pitt] led Liholiho’s forces, which were supported by canoe-mounted American swivel guns. Kekuaokalani was killed at Kuamo‘o along with his wife Manono and the kahuna (priest) Kūāiwa.
The last battles took place at Waimea, and the revolt was defeated. (Note: Warriors who survived these battles were later pardoned by King Kamehameha II (Kalaninui ‘Iolani Liholiho)). Soon after, another rebellion was defeated in Hāmākua.
A famous saying from this time was: “Wehe ka piko la, e ka hoahānau.” (“Undone is the navel string, O kinsman.”), which meant that “A family relation is severed. Said by Keopuolani to Kekuaokalani when she attempted to quell a rebellion, meaning that the tie of kinship between the two cousins, Liholiho and Kekuaokalani, was being severed by the latter’s refusal to be reconciled.”[iii]
The Mission Houses
On September 15, 1821 a Hale Pule (Christian Meeting House) was dedicated in Honolulu at the future site of Kawaiaha‘o Church at the corner of South King and Punchbowl Streets. Hawaiians framed and thatched this original structure, and the missionaries installed imported windows, doors, a pulpit, and a bell. The church was built to hold 300 people.
Also built in 1821, near the Christian Meeting House, was the Hale Lā‘au (Frame House), a two-story prefabricated structure that the missionaries brought with them around Cape Horn. The Frame House served as a residence for various missionaries, including Hiram Bingham (1789—1869), Gerrit Parmele Judd (1803—1873), and Elisha Loomis (1799—1836) (the printer).
The other structure still standing from the original Sandwich Islands Mission headquarters is Hale Kamalani, also known as the Chamberlain House. Constructed in 1831, the Chamberlain House was built of coral blocks, and home to the Mission’s business agent, Levi Chamberlain (1792-1849). The Chamberlain House was also was used to store the considerable amount of supplies of the mission.
Chamberlain had arrived in the Hawaiian Islands as a lay missionary in 1823, and later helped to found O‘ahu’s Punahou School for missionary children and chiefs’ children, which was established in 1841 by Hiram Bingham (1789—1869). (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1841.)
The school was originally known as Ka-puna-hou (“The new spring”) referring to an ancient legend (in 1843, the school was designated Punahou School and Oahu [O‘ahu] College).
On January 7, 1822, missionary Elisha Loomis used a second hand iron and mahogany Ramage press brought on the Thaddeus to complete the first printing in the North Pacific region at the grass-thatched Hale Pule (Christian Meeting House). Ke‘eaumoku (II) [Governor Cox] pulled the lever to begin the printing process.
In 1823, a new Hale Pa‘i (Printing Office) was constructed of coral blocks and became the home of the Mission Press, which eventually printed millions of pages in the Hawaiian language.
Language teachers and translators utilized the lead-type press and were helped by nā kānaka pa‘i (native Hawaiian assistants) such as John Papa ‘Ī‘ī. The first book published in the Islands came off the press in 1823, and was entitled Na Himeni Hawaii (Hymns of Hawai‘i).
In the following years, items produced at Hale Pa‘i included books, broadsides, hīmeni (hymns), newspapers, rules, primers, and the first translation of the Bible into the Hawaiian language. Prominent early missionary printers included Elisha Loomis, Stephen Shepard, Edmund Rogers, Lemuel Fuller, and Edwin Oscar Hall. Hale Pa‘i is considered the birthplace of the written Hawaiian language.
Today the complex of missionary buildings is known as the Mission Houses Museum, also called Nā Hale Hō‘ike‘ike O Nā Mikanele (“Exhibition House of the Missionaries”).
The Mission Houses Museum is located at 553 S. King Street, Honolulu (across from Kawaiaha‘o Church); Phone: 808-531-0481; Open 9 to 4, Tuesday-Saturday; www.lava.net/ormhm/main.htm.
The Frame House is the oldest wood frame house in the Hawaiian Islands, and is now restored to reflect its original architecture and decor, including furnishings representing its appearance more than 180 years ago. (Note: In 1841 a coral block structure was added to the Frame House.)
[Photograph: Mission Houses Museum]
Humehume and Kaua‘i’s Last Rebellion
Prince George Kaumuali‘i, also known as Humehume, was born about 1797 to Kaua‘i’s King Kaumuali‘i and a commoner wife. As a child, Humehume was sent to the United States for an education, but the money given to the boy’s guardian to pay for his education was either squandered or lost.
Humehume eventually enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was reportedly wounded during the War of 1812. (Note: Some accounts call into question Humehume’s reported military participation and injury.) Humehume then worked in the Boston Navy Yard and later studied at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut.
On May 3, 1820, Humehume returned to Kaua‘i and was reunited with his father after many years apart. In 1824, after Kaumuali‘i passed away on O‘ahu, Humehume challenged the rule of King Kamehameha II (Kalaninui ‘Iolani Liholiho) with a surprise attack on the fort at Waimea, Kaua‘i.
The fort was successfully defended, and Humehume’s troops retreated to nearby Wahiawa and Hanapēpē. King Kamehameha II was away in England at the time of the attack, leaving Kuhina Nui (Premier) Ka‘ahumanu in charge of the Hawaiian monarchy.
In response to Humehume’s rebellion, the well-armed troops of Ka‘ahumanu’s Principal Counselor Kalanimoku [Kālaimoku; William (Billy) Pitt], marched on Hanapēpē and the Wahiawa plains.
Kalanimoku (1768-1827) was also known as Billy Pitt, Kalanimoku was the right hand man, Treasurer and Principal Counselor (Kālaimoku) to King Kamehameha I and to later to Kuhina Nui (Premier) Ka‘ahumanu.
Kalanimoku was present at the death of Captain Cook, and took the nickname of “Billy Pitt” after William Pitt, the English Prime Minister; guardian of young Liholiho (the future King Kamehameha II).
Maui’s Governor Hoapili commanded the warriors, which included about 350 Maui soldiers and up to 1,000 soldiers from O‘ahu.
Kalanimoku’s warriors easily defeated Humehume’s meager and ill-prepared forces, who were armed only with spears and relatively few muskets. An estimated 50 to 130 of Humehume’s group were killed, including women and children. It was said that many of the dead were left on the battlefield to be eaten by pigs, and thus the event came to be known as ‘Aipua‘a (“Pig eater”[iv]).
Humehume fled on horseback into the mountains with his wife and child, and was later captured. Ka‘ahumanu replaced virtually all of Kaua‘i’s chiefs with chiefs from O‘ahu and Maui who were loyal to her and to King Kamehameha II.[v] Also replaced was Governor Paul Kanoa (1802—1885). Humehume remained imprisoned on O‘ahu until his death of influenza on May 3, 1826.
Kapiolani, by Lord Alfred Tennyson
When from the terrors of Nature a people have fashion’d and worship a Spirit of Evil
Blest be the Voice of the Teacher who calls to them,
“Set yourselves free!”
Noble the Saxon who hurled at his Idol a valorous weapon in olden England!
Great, and greater, and greatest of women, island heroine Kapiolani
Clomb the mountain, and flung the berries and dared the Goddess, and freed the people
A people believing that Peelè the Goddess would wallow in fiery riot and revel
Dance in a fountain of flame with her devils or shake with her thunders and shatter her island,
Rolling her anger
Thro’ blasted valley and flowing forest in blood-red cataracts down to the sea!
Long as the lava-light
Glares from the lava-take,
Dazing the starlight;
Long as the silvery vapor in daylight
Over the mountain
Floats, will the glory of Kapiolani be mingled with either on Hawa-i-ee.
What said her Priesthood?
“Woe to this island if ever a woman should handle or gather the berries of Peelè
Accursed were she!
And woe to this island if ever a woman should climb to the dwelling of Peelè the Goddess!
Accursed were she!”
One from the Sunrise
Dawned on His people and slowly before him
Gods and Goddesses,
None but the terrible Peelè remaining as Kapiolani
Ascended her mountain,
Baffled her priesthood,
Broke the Taboo,
Dipt to the crater,
Called on the Power adored by the Christian and crying, “I dare her, let Peelè avenge herself!”
Into the flame-billows dashed the berries, and drove the demon from Hawa-i-ee.
The Demise of Boki
Boki was governor of O‘ahu under King Kamehameha II. His original name was Kamā‘ule‘ule (“The one who faints”), and he was nicknamed Boki after King Kamehameha I’s favorite dog, Poki (“Boss”). (Note: Boki was a fairly common name at the time for dogs.)
In the late 1820s, Boki came into conflict with Kuhina Nui (Premier) Ka‘ahumanu when he resisted the new laws that were passed, and did not enforce them. In May of 1827, Ka‘ahumanu and the Council charged Boki with intemperance, fornication, adultery and misconduct, and fined him and his wife Liliha.
Heavily in debt, Boki decided to sail to the South Pacific (New Hebrides) after he received information provided by a visiting Australian ship about a plenteous source of sandalwood. The Kamehameha and the Becket left the Hawaiian Islands on December 2, 1829, carrying Boki and some 500 of his followers.
Disaster ensued when the two ships became separated somewhere near the Fiji group, and the Kamehameha perished in a fire apparently started by a smoker who accidentally ignited gunpowder in the ship’s hold. The crew of 250 died, along with Boki. The crew of the Becket was decimated by disease and other mishaps, and finally returned to Honolulu on August 3, 1830 with just 20 survivors.
The Hawaiian Language
[Illustration: A public sign using Hawaiian words on it (e.g., Komo mai!, or street sign)]
Hawaiian is one of about 30 languages comprising the Polynesian language family. The Hawaiian language has a soft, smooth cadence, and a melodic, song-like quality that has been described as spoken music.
Linguists note that the Hawaiian language is most similar to the language of the Marquesas Islands and Tahiti and less so to Sāmoan and Tongan. The Hawaiian language also bears a relationship to languages of the Philippines, Indonesia, Madagascar and Fiji.
Mai ka ā a ka w.
From A to W.
The alphabet of Hawaiian.
Hawaiian Becomes a Written Language
Hawaiian was a spoken language but not a written language when Captain Cook first visited the Hawaiian Islands in 1778. Cook’s best linguist expert aboard the Resolution, Surgeon William Anderson, compiled a list of 250 words, writing down as best he could in English what the native Hawaiians were saying.
The First Missionary Company arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1820. Missionary scholars (trained in mathematics, sciences, humanities, as well as Latin and other languages) weighed different options on formalizing a native Hawaiian language.
One might say that Hawaiian officially became a written language in 1829 when missionaries voted to select the 12-letter alphabet. They outlined a structure for a written Hawaiian language that adopted five vowels (a, e, i, o, and u) and seven consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, and w). The new written language was modeled after the oral Hawaiian language, attempting to accurately represent the sounds with English letters.
The missionary scholars provided some rules for the ordering of words in clauses and phrases. In the Hawaiian language, mood, case, and tense are shown with particles rather than inflection. Typically a sentence will begin with a verb, followed by a subject, object and prepositional phrase.
From the time Captain Cook’s linguist expert compiled a list of Hawaiian words until 1865, there were at least 12 more lists made by various people, though they all contained less than 400 words, with the exception of Lorrin Andrews’ 1836 list of 5,700 words.
Andrews (1795-1868) was head of Maui’s Lahainaluna School, which was founded in 1831 by American Protestant missionaries as a seminary of advanced education for young Hawaiian men, with an overarching missionary goal of advancing Christianity.
Andrews’ 1836 publication of 5,700 words was the first significant Hawaiian-English vocabulary. Andrews also published a grammar of the Hawaiian language in 1854, and then in 1865 he published a list of about 15,000 words in his Dictionary of the Hawaiian Language.
In 1845, the Lahainaluna Seminary Press published the first English-Hawaiian Dictionary, which was prepared by Artemas Bishop (1795-1872) and Joseph S. Emerson (1800-1867).
Refinements to the Written Hawaiian Language—Diacritical Marks
Refinements to the written Hawaiian language were made over the years, and symbols (diacritical marks) were developed to represent stresses and accents.
The reverse apostrophe symbol (‘) is called an ‘okina (also known as a hamzah), and represents a “glottal stop,” which is a slight pause similar to the stopping of sound in the English “oh-oh!” A horizontal line above a vowel (e.g., ā), is called a macron, or kahakō, and is used to show long, stressed vowels, or glides.
In 1957, the first edition of Pukui and Elbert’s Hawaiian-English Dictionary was published. Pukui and Elbert’s Hawaiian Dictionary: Revised and Enlarged Edition, published in 1986 contains more than 26,000 Hawaiian words, and is the definitive source for Hawaiian word spellings (e.g., diacritical marks), meanings, and pronunciation.
Of course the first source for the Hawaiian language is the Hawaiian elders themselves, who maintain a critical knowledge. A new generation is now learning the language with the hopes of keeping the Hawaiian culture alive. Music written and sung in the Hawaiian language has also made a popular resurgence.
Ke ho‘i a‘e la ka ‘ōpua i Awalau.
The rain clouds are returning to Awalau.
Said of a return to the source.
A general guide for pronouncing the vowels in Hawaiian words is to pronounce:
a as in about, or above
e as in wet, or let
i as in sweet, or the y in pity
o as in rope, or hole
u as in root, or moon
The vowels above are listed as they are pronounced when unstressed. When stressed, they sound much the same, but the “e” is pronounced more like the “ay” in play rather than like the e in wet.
There are exceptions to the above rules, especially when vowels are combined with other vowels to form diphthongs. Also, if a w is after an i or an e, it is usually pronounced like a lax v, but after u and o it is usually pronounced like the English w.
Many Hawaiian words have been integrated into the daily lives of English speaking residents of the Hawaiian Islands. For example, “mahalo” is said to express thanks. The word “aloha” is often used to express hello as well as goodbye, and also expresses affection and love.
An ancient proverb states, “He kēhau ho‘oma‘ema‘e ke aloha,” which translates to “Love is like a cleansing dew,” and is said to mean, “Love removes hurt.”[vi]
In the Hawaiian Islands, most place names (an estimated 86%) are Hawaiian, including names of streets, towns, mountains, and valleys. Ancient Hawaiians also named many rocks and trees (sometimes representing ancestors or gods) as well as taro patches, heiau (sacred places of worship), and fishing sites. In the Hawaiian Islands today, many buildings and stores are also given Hawaiian names.
Residents of the Hawaiian Islands, including those of foreign ancestry as well as Hawaiian ancestry, commonly use many Hawaiian words during their daily lives.
The number of native Hawaiian speakers declined rapidly in the 1800s and 1900s with the decline in the native Hawaiian population after Western contact (See Captain Cook Establishes Western Contact, Chapter 12.)
In 1896, three years after the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, a law was passed stating that “The English language shall be the medium and basis of instruction in all public and private schools.”
The number of native speakers of Hawaiian in 1983 was estimated at only about 1,500 people, mostly elder citizens who spoke Hawaiian to each other. Only an estimated 50 children spoke the Hawaiian language.
Since that time the number of people speaking Hawaiian has grown considerably. In the last three decades the number of native speakers has grown substantially as a result of Hawaiian language immersion schools, college programs, and mentoring by kūpuna (elders, grandparents), kumu (teachers) and kāhuna (spiritual leaders and experts in particular professions), who share their traditional cultural knowledge with the next generation.
The first ever master’s degree in Hawaiian was awarded to University of Hawai‘i student Hiapo Perreira in 2002. She went on to attend a newly established doctoral program at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.
A new generation is now learning the Hawaiian language, keeping the culture alive and perpetuating ancient knowledge and traditions. Today the number of native Hawaiian speakers is estimated to be more than 10,000 people, and most are younger than thirty years old. More than 2,000 children are speaking Hawaiian, and there are 23 immersion programs in the State of Hawai‘i. Music written and sung in the Hawaiian language has also made a popular resurgence. (See Kī Hō‘alu—Slack Key Guitar, Chapter 12.)
The following section of this text is a listing of the words most commonly used by all residents of the Hawaiian Islands today.
[Photograph: Hawaiian elders]
Most Commonly Used in the Hawaiian Islands
Note: The following list includes words commonly heard in the Hawaiian Islands today, and thus these are words that are useful to know for all those living in or visiting the Hawaiian Islands.
Hundreds of other Hawaiian words are used throughout the text of this book, including names of plants, birds, place names, and many terms not commonly heard among most residents.
‘a‘ā (rough lava)
‘ahi (yellowfin tuna)
ahupua‘a (natural watershed land division extending from the mountains to the sea)
‘āina (land, earth)
akamai (smart, clever, knowledgeable)
‘alalā (Hawaiian crow)
akamai (knowledgeable, clever, smart)
ali‘i (chief, chiefess, royalty of ancient Hawai‘i)
aloha (hello, good bye, love, affection)
aloha kakahiaka (good morning)
‘aumakua (family or personal god, guardian, ancestral spirit (plural: ‘aumākua)
auwē (or aue) (expresses wonder, fear pity, scorn, or a groan (e.g., oh dear!)
E komo mai! (come in, welcome!)
hapa haole (of mixed blood, part Caucasian, part Hawaiian)
hālau (place for hula instruction, or canoes; group)
Hana (bay, valley)
hānai (adopted foster child)
haole (formerly any foreigner; now refers primarily to those of Caucasian ancestry)
hapa haole (half haole, half Hawaiian)
Hau‘oli Lā Hānau (Happy Birthday)
Hau‘oli Makahiki (Hou Happy New Year)
he‘e nalu (surfing, to ride a surfboard)
heiau (sacred temple, ancient Hawaiian place of worship)
Hono- (valley or bay (e.g., Honolulu))
honu (sea turtle)
honua (land, earth)
hui (group, organization)
hukilaua (group pulling a fishing net (huki) ashore (lau))
hula (Hawaiian dance, cultural practice, art form)
imu (underground earthen-oven using hot rocks; traditional for lū‘au)
ipo (sweetheart, lover)
kāhili (feather standard used by royalty)
kahuna (spiritual guide, priest, expert in a profession (plural: kāhuna))
kālua (cooked underground, baked (e.g., kālua pig at a lū‘au))
kama‘āina (native born, (means “child of the land”), also long-time resident)
kanaka maoli (native Hawaiian)
kāne (man or boy, male (Kāne is a Hawaiian god))
kapa (cloth made from bark (also called tapa))
kapu (sacred, forbidden)
keiki (child, offspring (also kama))
kīpuka (vegetation surrounded by lava flow)
koholā (humpback whale)
kōkua (help, assistance)
kona (leeward side, leeward winds)
konohiki (head of an ahupua‘a)
kuleana (responsibility, right, small land parcel)
kūmū (goatfish (Parupeneus porphyreus))
kupuna (ancestor, grandparent, relative)
lānai (porch, shed)
lani (sky, heaven)
lau hala (leaf of hala tree, used to weave many items)
laulima (cooperation, working together)
le‘a (joy, happiness)
lei (strands or garlands of flowers, seeds, ferns, shells, feathers or other materials)
liliko‘i (passion fruit)
limu (seaweed (many types are edible))
lo‘i kalo (irrigated taro terrace)
lomi (to rub, massage)
lomilomi (masseur, masseuse)
lomilomi (raw fish (e.g., salmon) worked with fingers and mixed with onions and seasoning)
lū‘au (Hawaiian feast (also means “young taro leaves”))
mauna (mountain, peak)
mahalo (thank you)
mahalo nui loa (thank you very much)
mahimahi (dolphin fish (not dolphins))
maika‘i (fine, good)
makai (toward the sea)
mālama (to care for, support, preserve)
malihini (newcomer, visitor)
mana (spiritual or divine power, wisdom)
mana‘o (thought, idea, opinion)
mauka (toward the mountains, inland)
Mele Kalīkimaka (Merry Christmas)
mele (song or chant, to sing, merry)
menehune (legendary small race of ancient Hawaiians)
mo‘i wahine (queen)
moku (island, islet)
mu‘umu‘u (loose-fitting dress (introduced by missionaries))
nani (pretty, beautiful)
nēnē (native goose, Hawai‘i’s state bird)
nō ka ‘oi (the best! (e.g. Maui nō ka ‘oi—Maui is indeed the best))
‘ohana (family, extended family—named after the ‘ohā (offshoots) of kalo (taro))
‘ono (delicious (also the name of wahoo fish))
‘ō‘ō (digging stick, digging implement)
pāhoehoe (smooth, ropy lava
pali (steep cliff or precipice)
paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy)
papa he‘e nalu (surfboard)
pau (finished, done (pau hana—end of work day, job finished, etc.))
poi (taro root pounded into edible paste)
pono (correctness, morality, goodness)
pua (flower, blossom, garden)
puka (hole, door, opening)
pūpū (appetizer, hors d‘oeuvre)
pu‘u (hill, mound)
tapa (cloth made from bark (also called kapa))
tūtū (grandmother, aunt)
‘ukulele (small, guitar-like instrument)
wai (water, stream, river)
wikiwiki (speedy, hurry, quick)
The Twelve Companies of American Missionaries
From the 1820s to the 1860s, a steady stream of missionaries arrived in the Hawaiian Islands (then known as the Sandwich Islands), first converting ali‘i (chiefs) and then maka‘āinana (commoners) to Christianity.
The First Company of American missionaries arrived on March 31, 1820 on the brig Thaddeus, which left Boston for the Hawaiian Islands on August 31, 1819 under the command of Andrew Blanchard. The missionaries arrived at Kailua-Kona on April 4, 1820, and began their congregational mission work.
On April 27, 1823, under the command of Reuben Clasby, the Thames arrived carrying the Second Company of American missionaries. On March 30, 1828, under the command of Richard D. Blinn, the Parthian arrived with the Third Company of American missionaries.
Arriving with the Third Company was Gerrit Parmele Judd (1803-1873), a medical doctor who spent a lifetime of service in the Islands, including serving as a minister and adviser of King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli). In 1845, Judd became the Hawaiian Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
On June 7, 1831, under the command of Avery F. Parker, the New England arrived carrying the Fourth Company of American missionaries. More than 1,100 missionary schools were operating by 1831, with a total enrollment of more than 50,000 students, mostly adults.
On May 17, 1832, under the command of Captain Swain, the whale ship Averick arrived carrying the Fifth Company of American missionaries. By the early 1830s, missionaries were running more than 1,000 schools that were educating as many as 50,000 people.
In 1833, under the command of Captain Rice, the Mentor arrived carrying the Sixth Company of American missionaries. On board was Reverend John Diell (1808-1841), who later opened the Seamen’s Bethel in Honolulu (1837), and was first chaplain of the American Seamen’s Friend Society.[vii] Diell later organized the O‘ahu Bethel Church.
On December 5, 1834, under the command of Captain Henry, the Hellespont arrived carrying the Seventh Company of American missionaries. The Hilo Boy’s Boarding School was established in 1836 by missionaries David and Sarah Lyman.
On April 9, 1837, under the command of Charles Sumner, the barque Mary Frazier arrived carrying the Eighth Company of American missionaries. From 1838 to 1840, more than 20,000 Hawaiians were converted to Protestantism and became members of the Congregational Church during an evangelical crusade led by Titus Coan (1801—1882). This event later became known as “The Great Revival.”
By the 1840s, at least 17 mission stations existed throughout the Hawaiian Islands. On May 21, 1841, under the command of Captain Easterbrook, the Gloucester arrived carrying the Ninth Company of American missionaries (after a difficult 188-day voyage through inclement weather, and including a stop in Brazil for repairs and another stop in Chile). In 1842, Kawaiaha‘o Church was dedicated in Honolulu. On September 21, 1842, under the command of Captain Doane, the brig Sarah Abigail arrived carrying the Tenth Company of American missionaries.
On July 15, 1844, under the command of Captain Doane, the brig Globe arrived carrying the Eleventh Company of American missionaries. On February 26, 1848, under Captain Hollis, the Twelfth (and final) Company of American missionaries arrived on the bark Samoset.
Hiram Bingham (1789—1869)
Hiram Bingham and his wife Sybil came to the Hawaiian Islands with the First Company of American missionaries in 1820. Bingham preached his first sermon in the Islands on April 25, 1820, and performed the first Christian marriage on August 11, 1822 when he married the missionary youth Thomas Hopu to his bride Delia.
Hiram continued preaching and teaching throughout the Islands for the next two decades, and Hiram and Sybil had seven children. Hiram was particularly influential among the ali‘i (the ruling class) of the native Hawaiians.
Bingham also helped develop the Hawaiian alphabet, assisted in the first translation of the Bible, and was the architect and first pastor of Kawaiaha‘o Church.
(Note: To the left of the front door of the Kawaiaha‘o Church, near the original cornerstone, is a centennial memorial plaque honoring Reverend Hiram Bingham.)
Bingham performed the marriage service of King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) and Queen Kalama [Hakaleleponi Kapakuhaili Kalama [Kamālama]] in 1837. Bingham also helped establish Punahou School for missionary children and chiefs’ children in 1841. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1841.) The school was originally known as Ka-puna-hou (“The new spring”) referring to an ancient legend. In 1843, the school was designated Punahou School and Oahu [O‘ahu] College.
The Binghams moved back to New England in 1840 due to Sybil’s poor health, and she passed away that same year. Hiram Bingham later wrote A Residence of Twenty-One Years in the Sandwich Islands (New York: Sherman Converse; 1847). In 1852, Hiram Bingham married Naomi E. Morse.
Scholars of Hawaiian History
Many early historical writings in the Hawaiian Islands were the product of personal interviews with native Hawaiian elders and were written in the Hawaiian language.
A written Hawaiian language did not exist when Captain Cook and his crew first arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1778. Soon after Western contact a written language was configured and then gradually refined (See The Hawaiian Language), and numerous historical accounts began to be written in the Hawaiian language.
Particularly notable was the voluminous amount of research done by students of Maui’s Lahainaluna Seminary, which was founded in 1831 by American Protestant missionaries as a seminary of advanced education for young Hawaiian men.
In 1836, Reverend Lorrin Andrews (1795-1868), head of the Lahainaluna Seminary, published the first significant Hawaiian-English dictionary, which included about 5,700 words and was entitled Vocabulary of Words in the Hawaiian Language. In 1845, the Lahainaluna Seminary Press published the first English-Hawaiian Dictionary, He Hoakakaolelo no na Hualelo Beritania (A Dictionary of English Words), edited by Artemas Bishop (1795-1872) and J. S. Emerson (1800-1867). In 1865, Andrews published a Hawaiian-English Dictionary containing about 15,000 words.
Lahainaluna’s history teacher, Reverend Sheldon Dibble (1809-1845), had his students collect oral histories from their own elders and other native Hawaiians. This resulted in the gathering of a great deal of information about the pre-contact past of the Hawaiian Islands.
In 1838, Dibble published Ka Moolele Hawaii (Mo‘o ‘ōlelo means “story” or “history.”[viii]), a history of the Hawaiian Islands written in the Hawaiian language. The book was translated into English a few years later and then published in the Hawaiian Spectator newspaper.
In 1839, Dibble published A History and General Views of the Sandwich Islands Mission (New York: Taylor & Dodd), and then in 1843, History of the Sandwich Islands (Lahaina, Maui: Press of the Mission Seminary).
Dibble’s historical reports were developed with the assistance of two particularly prolific Lahainaluna students, David Malo (c.1793-1853) and Samuel Mānaiakalani Kamakau (1815-1876). Malo and Kamakau collected and documented many legends, genealogies, and chants as well as specific details of historical events of pre-contact times.
The extensive writings of Malo and Kamakau were originally published in Hawaiian language newspapers in the 1860s and 1870s. Malo’s writings were dated around 1840, but were not published in English until Nathaniel Emerson’s translation entitled Hawaiian Antiquities (Ka Moolele Hawaii), published by the Hawaiian Gazette Company in 1903.
Kamakau wrote historical articles for Hawaiian language newspapers Ke Au ‘Oko‘a and Ka Nupepa Kū‘oko‘a, producing more than 200 articles between 1866 and 1871. Samuel Mānaiakalani Kamakau was also a founding member of the Royal Hawaiian Historical Society in 1841, and served in the Legislature from 1851 until his death in 1876.
Kamakau’s Ruling Chiefs of Hawai‘i (Honolulu: Kamehameha Schools Press, 1961) was translated by Mary Kawena Pūku‘i (1895-1986) and published by Kamehameha Schools Press in 1961. A second volume of Kamakau’s writings, entitled Ka Po‘e Kahiko: The People of Old (Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1964) was translated by Pūku‘i and published by Bishop Museum Press in 1964, 88 years after Kamakau passed away. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1815.)
Mary Kawena Pūku‘i also translated articles written by John Papa ‘Ī‘ī (c.1800-1870) for the newspaper Ka Nupepa Kū‘oko‘a from 1866 to 1870. ‘Ī‘ī had been the personal attendant of Liholiho (the future King Kamehameha II) and also served as a childhood guardian of Princess Victoria Kamāmalu.
‘Ī‘ī was a language advisor to missionary Hiram Bingham (1789—1869) and was appointed to the House of Nobles and Privy Council under King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli).
‘Ī‘ī also helped draft the Hawai‘i Constitution of 1852, and was a justice on Hawai‘i’s Supreme Court from 1852 to 1864. Pūku‘i’s translation of ‘Ī‘ī’s writings, were entitled Fragments of Hawaiian History, was edited by Dorothy Barrère and published by Bishop Museum Press in 1959.
Zephyrin Kepelino (c.1830-1876), a descendant of the famous Tahitian priest Pā‘ao, wrote at least six Hawaiian-language books in the mid-1800s. The most notable of these texts was entitled Kepelino’s Traditions of Hawaii, published by Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in 1932. The text of Kepelino’s Traditions of Hawaii was translated by Martha W. Beckwith (1871-1959).
(Note: According to tradition, sometime before the year A.D. 1200, the Tahitian kahuna (priest) by the name of Pā‘ao founded a high priest line, known as kahuna nui. Pā‘ao returned to Tahiti and brought back a chief named Pili [Kaaiea], who ruled Hawai‘i Island and began a 700-year dynasty, siring the royal line leading to King Kamehameha I.)
Another man who had a significant influence on the transcribing of early Hawaiian history was Judge Abraham Fornander (1812-1887). Born in Sweden, Fornander became a Circuit Judge in 1864 and was a member of the King’s Privy Council under King Kamehameha IV (Alexander Liholiho ‘Iolani). Fornander later conducted extensive interviews with Kepelino and Kamakau, and with the help of native assistants he arranged interviews with many native Hawaiians.
Collectively, this information became the basis of Fornander’s An Account of the Polynesian Race. After his death, Fornander’s Collection of Hawaiian Antiquities and Folklore was published by Thomas G. Thrum. Volume II of An Account of the Polynesian Race was republished as Ancient History of the Hawaiian People to the Times of Kamehameha I (Mutual Press: 1996).
The first published chart of the Hawaiian Islands was included in the 1784 official account of Captain James Cook’s third voyage. In 1788, A Voyage Round the World by George Dixon included drawings and written descriptions of the Hawaiian Islands. Memoires du Capitaine Peron sur ses Voyages was published in 1824 by Pierre Francois Perón (1769—c.1830), including descriptions of King Kamehameha I and the Hawaiian Islands in the late 1700s.
Lord George Anson Byron, who brought the bodies of King Kamehameha II (Kalaninui ‘Iolani Liholiho) and Queen Kamāmalu [Kamāmalunuiomano] back from London on the frigate Blonde in 1825, later published Voyage of H.M.S. “Blonde” to the Sandwich Islands, 1824-25.
William Ellis visited the Islands in 1822 and again in 1823, and then published Hawaiian Tour in 1826 and Polynesian Researches, during a Residence of Nearly Six Years in the South Sea Islands in 1830.
Ellis had lived in Huahine, Tahiti and studied the language, and was able to communicate well with native Hawaiians in their own language, taking many notes and providing one of the most complete records of early Hawaiian life, including extensive descriptions of Hawaiian history and culture.
The Hawaiian translation of the New Testament was published in 1832, and presented by missionary Hiram Bingham (1789—1869) to Kuhina Nui (and former queen) Ka‘ahumanu, shortly before her death. Also published in 1832 was the Hawaiian translation of the standard New England elementary arithmetic text He Helu Kamalii, and a geography text He Hoikehonua.
On February 14, 1834, Lahainaluna Seminary began publication of a four-page Hawaiian language weekly, Ka Lama Hawaii (The Hawaiian Luminary), which was the first periodical printed in the North Pacific region (west of the Rockies).
Edited by Reverend Lorrin Andrews, the periodical included woodcut illustrations and listed Lahaina ship arrivals. The Honolulu newspaper Kumu Hawaii began publication in 1834, along with the Hawaiian language newspaper Kekumu.
In 1834, Lahainaluna Press published Ke Anahonua, including sections on mathematics, navigation, and land surveying. Also in 1834, the Mission Press published the first Hawaiian Almanac.
On July 30, 1836, Nelson Hall and S. D. MacIntosh began publication of the four-page weekly Sandwich Island Gazette and Journal of Commerce, the first English-language newspaper in the Hawaiian Islands, which continued publication until July of 1839. (Note: The Sandwich Island Gazette was also the first weekly English-language newspaper published west of the Rockies.)
The Honolulu Spectator began publication in 1837, and included regular weather record reports written by Dr. Thomas Charles Byde Rooke. In January of 1838, missionaries began printing the Hawaiian Spectator, the North Pacific region’s first literary journal, a quarterly review.
The first complete translation of the Bible into the Hawaiian language was completed on May 10, 1839. Entitled Ka Palapala Hemolele, the Bible was published in three volumes, totaling 2,331 pages.
In 1840, James Jackson Jarves (1818—1888) founded a weekly publication called the Polynesian. In 1843, Reverend Samuel Chenery Damon (1815—1885) founded The Friend, and served as the editor and publisher of the monthly journal, which continued to be published for more than 100 years. The Polynesian became the Hawaiian government’s official publication in 1844.
The Pacific Commercial Advertiser was founded in 1856, initially as a weekly newspaper, becoming a daily newspaper in 1882, and now known as the Honolulu Advertiser. Ka Hoku o ka Pakipika (The Star of the Pacific) became the first independently owned newspaper in 1861 and was produced by native Hawaiians.
The influential Hawaiian language newspaper Ka Nupepa Kū‘oko‘a began publication in 1861 and continued until 1927, making it the longest running Hawaiian language paper. Ka Nupepa Kū‘oko‘a was founded by Luther Halsey Gulick.
On September 4, 1866, the Hawaiian Herald became the first daily newspaper in the Hawaiian Islands. The publication was short-lived, however, ending on December 21, 1866. Sanford Dole wrote Synopsis of the Birds of the Hawaiian Islands in 1869.
On January 25, 1873, Scottish author Isabella Bird Bishop (1832—1904) began her travels around the Hawaiian Islands, later publishing an illustrated book, The Hawaiian Archipelago: Six Months Among the Palm Groves, Coral Reefs, and Volcanoes of the Sandwich Islands. The first Hawaiian Almanac and Annual was published by Thomas George Thrum (1842—1932) in 1875.
The monthly Paradise of the Pacific magazine, founded by Thomas George Thrum (1842—1932) and James J. Williams (1853—1926), began publication in 1888, and was incorporated into Honolulu Magazine in 1966. The afternoon newspaper Hawaiian Star began publication in 1893.
In 1900, the New China Daily Press became the first Chinese newspaper in the Hawaiian Islands. The Methodist Church of Honolulu began publishing Hanin Sisa (Korean News) in 1905.
Frederick K. Makino (1877—1953) founded the Japanese language newspaper Hawaii Hochi in 1912 (an English language section was added to the paper in 1925).
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin was formed in 1913 when the Evening Bulletin merged with the Hawaiian Star. The weekly Hawaiian language paper Ke Alakai o Hawaii (Hawai‘i Guide) began publication in 1928.
Kawaiaha‘o Church (originally known as Stone Church) was dedicated on July 21, 1842 in Honolulu at the corner of South King and Punchbowl Streets. Construction on Kawaiaha‘o Church began in 1837 following plans drawn by missionary Reverend Hiram Bingham (1789—1869).
The cornerstone of Kawaiaha‘o Church was laid on June 8, 1839, and the church was built in the New England style with Gothic influences. Presiding over the dedication was Reverend Richard Armstrong (Bingham had left due to poor health).
More than 1,000 people worked on the construction Kawaiaha‘o Church, using blunt axes to cut coral reef from beneath 10 to 20 feet of water. Approximately 14,000 coral blocks, many weighing more than one ton, were cut from the ocean reef. Canoes were used to carry logs for the church from Ko‘olau Loa in northern O‘ahu to Kāne‘ohe Bay, and then the logs were hauled over the mountain.
O‘ahu’s largest church, Kawaiaha‘o was built on the site of a previous church known as the Christian Meeting House, or Hale Pule (pule means “church”). The church’s clock tower was a gift of King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli). The clock was built in Boston and presented to the church in 1842 by James Hunnewell (and continues to keep accurate time).
Kawaiaha‘o was the site of the coronation of King Kamehameha IV (Alexander Liholiho ‘Iolani) in 1854, and he married Queen Emma [Emma Na‘ea Rooke; Kalanikaumakeamano; Kaleleonālani] there in 1856.
Originally known as Stone Church, it was renamed Kawaiaha‘o Church in 1862. In 1885 a bigger bell tower was added to Kawaiaha‘o Church, and then electricity was installed in 1895. Due to extreme termite damage, a complete reconstruction of all but the coral block walls took place in 1925.
Kawaiaha‘o Church still reserves pews for descendants of Hawaiian royalty. These velvet-lined pews were located at the rear of the church and marked with kāhili, the traditional feather standards that are symbols of Hawaiian royalty.
Portraits of Hawaiian royalty and important figures associated with Kawaiaha‘o line the walls along the upper balconies. The church’s spectacular pipe organ dominates the rear upper balcony. The 10:30 a.m. Sunday service at Kawaiaha‘o Church is still said in the Hawaiian language as well as English.
Located just inside the main entrance gate to Kawaiaha‘o Church is the Tomb of King Lunalilo, a substantial memorial that is one of the first cement-block structures in the Islands. Many of early missionaries of the Hawaiian Islands are buried in a cemetery behind Kawaiaha‘o Church. (See Chapter 11, Timeline: 1821, Sep. 15; 1837; 1843, July 31; 1872, June 11; and Mission Houses, Chapter 12.)
[Photographs: Kawaiaha‘o Church; Tomb of King Lunalilo]
French / Catholics
On May 30, 1786, the Boussole and the Astrolabe, two 500-ton armed naval frigates under the command of French navigator Count de la Pérouse, arrived at the Maui location now known as La Pérouse Bay (Hawaiian name: Kalepolepo). The Solide became the first French trading ship to come to the Hawaiian Islands in October of 1791 under the command of Etienne Marchand.
Under the command of French Navy captain Louis Claude Desaulces De Freycinet (1779—1842), the French corvette L’Uranie arrived on August 8, 1819, and Kamā‘ule‘ule (Boki), the future governor of O‘ahu, was baptized aboard the ship. The ship’s draftsman, Jacques Arago (1790-1855), wrote an account of the visit, including numerous illustrations depicting Hawaiian life at the time.
Under Captain Plassard, The Comète arrived on July 7, 1827, carrying three Roman Catholic missionaries from Bordeaux France: Alexis Bachelot, Patrick Short, and Abraham Armand. Reverend Alexis Bachelot led the first Catholic Mass in the Hawaiian Islands on July 14 (Bastille Day), 1827.
On November 30, 1827, the first baptism of the child of a foreigner in the Islands was performed on a child of Spaniard Francisco de Paula Marín (1774-1837), who served King Kamehameha I in various capacities, including as a physician, adviser, accountant, and supplier of rum.
The first Catholic chapel in the Hawaiian Islands opened in 1828 in Honolulu on land granted by King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli).
In 1829, Protestant convert and Kuhina Nui (Premier) Ka‘ahumanu ordered that practicing Catholics be punished and sent to the island of Kaho‘olawe, which became a penal colony.
In 1831, Ka‘ahumanu expelled from the Island Catholic priests, including Reverends Bachelot and Short, and strongly discouraged believers in the Catholic religion. Reverend Bachelot returned to the Islands in 1837.
On December 18, 1837, with the urging of Protestant missionaries, King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) issued an ordinance rejecting the Catholic religion, leading to a controversy with France. The British Royal Navy ship Sulphur arrived in Honolulu on July 8, 1837.
The French naval vessel Venus also arrived, and there was controversy regarding Catholic priests in the Islands, resulting in a treaty assuring equal treatment for French residents.
On June 7, 1839, King Kamehameha III issued a Declaration of Rights that came to be known as the Hawaiian Magna Carta. On June 17, the king issued an Edict of Toleration regarding religious differences, reversing his earlier stance banning the practice and teaching of Catholicism.
The June 7, 1839 Declaration of Rights was a predecessor to Hawai‘i’s first formal constitution in 1840, and also served as the constitution’s preamble.
On July 9, 1839, the French Navy frigate L’Artemise arrived under the command of Cyrille Pierre Theodore Laplace, who was commissioned by the French government to demand rights for French citizens in the Hawaiian Islands, and to “destroy the malevolent impression which you find established to the detriment of the French name...and to make it well understood that it would be to the advantage of the chiefs of those islands of the Ocean to conduct themselves in such a manner as to not incur the wrath of France...if necessary, with all the force that is yours to use, complete reparation for the wrongs which have been committed.”
Despite King Kamehameha III’s earlier Edict of Toleration, Laplace threatened war unless his demands were met, including freedom of worship, a site for a Catholic Church, and $20,000 in reparations (which was paid by local merchants).
On July 17, King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) and Laplace signed the Convention of 1839, granting numerous protections to French citizens in the Hawaiian Islands. Officials of other countries became alarmed when Laplace made additional demands, and this led to official recognition of Hawaiian independence by France, Great Britain, and the United States.
In May of 1840, Bishop Rouchouze, the vicar apostolic of the Pacific, arrived along with three other Catholic priests, including the exiled Father Maigret. Under the protection of the French, a permanent Catholic mission was established in 1840.
The first Catholic printing press was established in November of 1841. The French sloop-of-war Embuscade arrived in 1842 under the command of Captain S. Mallet, who wanted assurances that Catholic priests would be allowed to worship and French wines could be imported.
By 1843, about 100 Catholic Mission schools operated in the Islands, with about 3,000 students. Our Lady of Peace Cathedral was blessed and dedicated at 1184 Bishop Street in Honolulu on August 15, 1843, to serve Honolulu’s Roman Catholic Diocese. On March 22, 1846, the French naval frigate Virginie arrived under the command of Rear Admiral Hamelin, who repayed the $20,000 demanded by Captain Laplace in 1839.
Father Louis Desire Maigret (1804-1882), who first arrived in 1837, was named Vicar Apostolic to the Sandwich Islands (the Hawaiian Islands) in 1846, and he served until his death in 1882.
The French Navy frigate Poursuivante and steam-corvette Gassendi arrived off Honolulu in April of 1848 under the command of Rear Admiral Legoarant de Tromelin, who presented ten demands, including equality of worship, and then engaged in reprisals that included taking over government buildings, damaging the fort in Honolulu (see 1815), and seizing the yacht of King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli).
Tromelin departed ten days later, taking with him Guillaume Patrice Dillon, the French consul whose complaints initiated Tromelin’s actions.
Also in 1848, a full-length portrait of Louis Philippe, painted by renowned portraitist Franz-Xavier Winterhalter, arrived as a gift from the ruler of France to King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli). The portrait of Louis Philippe is now on display in the ‘Iolani Palace Blue Room.
King Kamehameha III signed a secret agreement with the United States in 1851, assuring protection in the event of further French interference. In 1864, Father Damien was ordained a Roman Catholic priest at Honolulu’s Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, and in 1873 he begins his service on Moloka‘i’s Kalaupapa Peninsula. (See Heroes of Kalaupapa.)
On February 10, 1843, Lord George Paulet of Britain arrived on the frigate Carysfort, and using the threat of military might he demanded a formal “provisional cession” of the Hawaiian Islands to Britain. Paulet’s arrival was prompted by complaints from the British consul in Honolulu of harassment of British subjects in the Islands.
King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) acquiesced to Paulet’s demands to avoid bloodshed, and he allowed the British flag to be raised in Honolulu. This occurred at a time when several major countries were attempting to expand their political, military, and economic influence in the world, and the Hawaiian Kingdom was seeking recognition of its independence.
On May 10, 1843, King Kamehameha III’s Deputy Minister, Dr. Gerrit Parmele Judd (1803-1873), resigned and brought the public papers of the king to the Royal Mausoleum in Nu‘uanu, O‘ahu at Mauna‘ala (“Fragrant mountain”[ix]) to keep them from being taken by British naval officers.
Judd then used the coffin of the late Queen Ka‘ahumanu as a desk as he wrote appeals to London and Washington for help in resisting the illegal activities of Paulet.
On July 31, 1843, the provisional cession of the Hawaiian Islands to Britain was rescinded by Britain’s Admiral Richard Thomas (1777-1851), who was sent by Queen Victoria to restore control of the Hawaiian Islands to King Kamehameha III.
The British flag, which had flown over the Islands for five months, was lowered and the Hawaiian flag was raised. Admiral Thomas declared King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) an independent sovereign. July 31 was later proclaimed Restoration Day.
On November 28, 1843, Great Britain and France issued a joint declaration, signed in London, formally recognizing the independence of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i, referred to at the time as the Sandwich Islands.
Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘āina o ka pono
The life of the land is perpetuated (preserved) in righteousness
Hawai‘i’s State motto, said by King Kamehameha III in a speech
at a Kawaiaha‘o Church service on Restoration Day.
The Whaling Era
The whaling era in the Hawaiian Islands began on September 29, 1819 when two New England ships, the Equator and the Balena, became the first whaling ships to arrive. The Equator was captained by Elisha Folger and the Balena was captained by Edmund Gardner.
While anchored in Kealakekua Bay, the Balena harpooned a large sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) that yielded more than 100 barrels of oil, beginning Hawai‘i’s whaling era.
In 1820, the Nantucket whaling ship Maro, under the command of Joseph Allen, became the first whaling ship to enter Honolulu Harbor. Allen later discovered rich whaling waters off Japan, and soon hundreds of whaling ships headed for the area to exploit the bountiful sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) resource.
The Hawaiian Islands, being centrally located between the American west coast and Japan, quickly developed into a major staging area for ships going to and from the newly discovered whaling area. The main Hawaiian ports for the whaling ships were in Honolulu and Lahaina, and thousands of Hawaiians were recruited to work on the ships.
In 1822, about 60 whaling ships patrolled Hawaiian waters, and the number continued to grow into a shore-based fishery in the Hawaiian Islands that developed specifically to hunt whales. The Globe, a Nantucket whaling ship under the command of Thomas Worth, arrived in Honolulu on May 1, 1823, and was later involved in whaling history’s worst mutiny, led by Samuel Comstock. More than 100 whaling vessels arrived in 1824.
In October of 1825, the Lahaina home of Reverend William Richards was attacked by the crew of the British whaling ship Daniel who were angry at restrictions enacted due to missionary influences.
In October of 1827, the sailors of the British whale ship John Palmer, under the command of Captain Elisha Clarke, fired a cannon at a missionary house in Lahaina, Maui due to a conflict between the sailors and the missionaries. In 1828, a total of 159 whaling ships arrived in Hawaiian ports, including 112 in Honolulu and 47 in Lahaina.
The whaling industry continued to grow, with a total of 198 whaling ships stopping in Hawaiian ports in 1832, including 118 in Honolulu and 80 in Lahaina, and Honolulu merchant Henry A. Peirce outfitted the Denmark Hill, the first whaling ship to sail under the Hawaiian flag.
In 1834, the whaling ship Helvetius wrecked on the reef off Diamond Head with 1,400 barrels of whale oil on board. Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) sent men to assist, and about 500 barrels of oil were salvaged.
In the 1840s, several companies in the Islands attempted to hunt local whales. At this time, oil from the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) sold for $1 per gallon, and oil rendered from whale blubber, such as from the humpback whale, sold for 30 cents per gallon.
The peak year for whaling ship arrivals at Hawaiian ports was 1846, when at least 596 whaling ships arrived, including at least 429 at Lahaina and 167 at Honolulu. Oil from sperm whales fueled the Industrial Revolution.
On November 8, 1852, the death of imprisoned whaler Henry Burns led to a riot by thousands of sailors who set fire to the Honolulu police station. In 1859, 549 whaling ships stopped at Hawaiian ports, and that same year oil was discovered in Titusville, Pennsylvania and became the new source of lubricants for industry, marking the end of the heyday of the whaling industry.
By this time whales were rapidly disappearing due to over-harvesting. Whaling ship arrivals in 1859 included 249 ships arriving in Honolulu, 116 ships arriving in Lahaina, and 184 ships arriving in other ports.
About 600,000 pounds (272,000 kg) of whalebone (baleen) and 775,000 pounds (351,500 kg) of whale oil were transshipped from the Islands in 1868. Before plastic was invented, the baleen was in demand for use in women’s corsets, hoop skirts, umbrellas, and a variety of other products that required strong, flexible material (see Humpback Whales).
An early Arctic freeze north of the Bering Strait in 1871 destroyed the North Pacific whaling fleet, including seven Hawai‘i-owned ships.
Humpback whales were near extinction in 1966 when the International Whaling Commission prohibited all hunting of humpback whales in the North Pacific Ocean. (See Humpback Whales.)
Washington Place was built in Honolulu on South Beretania Street in 1847 by sea captain and merchant John Dominis, the father of Queen Lili‘uokalani’s husband, John Owen Dominis. The senior Dominis disappeared at sea around 1850, and when John Owen Dominis passed away in 1891 the queen inherited Washington Place and lived there until she died in 1917.
In 1921, due to the political efforts of Prince Kūhiō [Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole Pi‘ikoi], the Territory of Hawai’i purchased the stately Washington Place and began using it as a governor’s mansion. Renovations took place in 1922, 1925, and 1953. In 1973 Washington Place was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Washington Place is now a museum with historical exhibits primarily dedicated to telling the story of Queen Lili‘uokalani [Lydia Kamaka‘eha Pākī-Dominis Lili‘uokalani] and displaying the queen’s personal effects, important personal papers, and historical documents. Washington Place also continues to be used as a public reception area.Washington Place was named a National Historic Landmark in 2007.
[i] Translation by J.C. Lane, as cited in: Houston, Victor S. K. The Hawaiian Flag. Friends of ‘Iolani Palace, 6/1988.
[ii] Houston, Victor S. K. The Hawaiian Flag. Friends of ‘Iolani Palace, 6/1988.
[iii] p. 320, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 2924.
[iv] p. 112, 113, Wichman, Frederick B. Nā Pua Ali‘i O Kaua‘i: Ruling Chiefs of Kaua‘i. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2003.
[v] p. 113, Wichman, Frederick B. Nā Pua Ali‘i O Kaua‘i: Ruling Chiefs of Kaua‘i. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2003.
[vi] p. 76, Pukui, Mary Kawena. ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1983. Proverb 683.
[vii] The Seamen’s Bethel provided opportunities for sailors to learn to read.
[viii] Pukui, Mary Kawena, and Elbert, Samuel H. Hawaiian Dictionary: Revised and Enlarged Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986.
[ix] Pukui, Mary Kawena, and Elbert, Samuel H. & Mookini, Esther T. Place Names of Hawaii: Revised & Expanded Edition. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.