I just recently helped a family learn more about their great-grandmother who had been hanai. The family was uncertain of her maiden name or who her real birth parents were. At the end of the study, I was able to find information on the great-grandmother’s two marriages, her maiden name and even a document that listed names of her biological parents.
In this case study, I will list the resources that were researched in order to make these findings. Hopefully, this will help you in your own search.
- Unversity of Hawaii at Manoa, microform newspaper index. At Hamilton library, on the first floor, there are microform slides indexed by last names. This is a great resource to begin doing basic searches for families. It is here that I found the first mention of the great-grandmother’s actual maiden name in a 1985 Honolulu Advertiser obituary.
- With knowledge of this new name, I headed to ancestry.com. [While Ancestry’s searchable index of census records is unmatched, it is important to realize that Hawaiian names are spelled incorrectly all the time in its database.] It was in Ancestry.com that I found a 1910 census of the great-grandmother listed as aged 8 and an “adopted child” with adopted parents aged 60 and 45. [If you don’t have a subscription to ancestry.com, the Mormon Family History Centers allow you to search their subscription for free.]
Now that I had her maiden name and her adopted parents’ names, I visited the Kalihi Mormon Family History center to check through its large collection of Certificate of Hawaiian birth records. If you are researching birth records, I recommend you visit them. The staff has worked hard to make these records easily searchable. Call ahead to check hours of operation.
- Kalihi Mormon Family History Center. It is here and within the Certificates of Hawaiian Birth that I was hoping to find testimony about the great-grandmother’s biological parents. However, there was no mention of the great-grandmother’s maiden or married name. I did find a listing for her husband, and it gave great testimony about his life, but it was taken prior to his meeting and marriage to the great-grandmother.
- Having no luck with birth records, I moved on to marriage records. I did a search through Ulukau.org which has searchable marriage indexes online and found the great-grandmother’s name referenced in two marriage records. She had married twice, which was unknown to me before.
- Hawaii State Archives. With the marriage license reference numbers I gathered from Ulukau.org, I then visited the Hawaii State Archives to pull the marriage licenses. My experience has shown me that not all marriage licenses list the parents’ names. But, luckily, in this case, both marriage licenses had parents listed, as well as witnesses.
The first marriage license listed the name of her adopted father and the name of a mother (who was unknown before).
The second marriage license listed two Hawaiian parents, who were neither of the adopted parents listed in the 1910 census. On this license, the mother was the same woman listed as the mother in the earlier marriage license, but this time with her own maiden name. The father listed on this license is believed to be the biological father. Though the adopted parents were not listed as mother or father on this license at all, the adopted mother was present at this marriage and listed as a witness.
With more research, it could probably become clear as to whom these listed parents are, and why there may have been a hanai relationship. But, it is clear that the great-grandmother knew who her biological parents were and who her adopted parents were, as is usually the case in hanai relationships.
Hanai Relationships (Part 2): In the matter of the Estate of Nakuopu, deceased, widow of Puhalahua, deceased.
As I was researching hanai relationships at the Hawaii State Archives, I ran across this newspaper article published in the Hawaiian Gazette 1869, July 21, p3 c2. It’s a supreme court case involving rights of a hanai child, whose adopted parents were deceased. It is interesting to see the explanations of the culture during the time. And, also, shows the importance of researching Probate/Bureau of Conveyances records when researching hanai ancestors.
In the matter of the Estate of Nakuopu, deceased, widow of Puhalahua, deceased.
This was a case that came up on appeal from the decision of the Hon. Elisha H. Allen, sitting as the Court of Probate.
Keahi filed a petition in the Probate Court, praying for letters of administration on the estate of Nakuopu, who he alleges, died intestate [without a will]. The property is large, consisting mostly of valuable real estate, lying in Honolulu, and the several islands. Nakuopu died without issue, and left only a few remote collateral heirs. There were several claimants who were all represented by counsel, in the Probate Court. Among these was Kaauaupa, who claimed to be the adopted daughter of Nakuopu and Puhalahua, her husband, according to the ancient usage and custom of Hawaii, before the enactment of any written laws on the subject of adoption.
The testimony of some seven witnesses was taken on part of the claimant, and several on part of respondents. On the final hearing of the case, the Chief Justice decided adversely to the claimant, whereupon, she appealed to the Supreme Court, claiming a jury, under the Act of 1864. After the appeal was taken, W.C. Jones was engaged to take charge of the case, and the issue was made on a motion under that act, and a rule of the Supreme Court, as to whether the claimant and appellant, Kaauaupa, was the adopted daughter of Nakuopu, deceased, and her husband, Puhalahua, deceased, according to the custom and usage of this kingdom, prior to the existence of any written law on the subject. The jury was empannelled and sworn to try that issue. The testimony was voluminous, and was listened with great attention by the jury.
S.M. Kamakau, the historian, was sworn, and testified to the ancient usage and custom of Hawaii, as to the adoption of children. He specified two classes, but stated that their rights of inheritance were the same. The parents, in their life time, usually made a verbal will; but when this was not the case, the property was equally divided among the children, whether natural or adopted. That the right of the common people to inherit, extended to the personal property and to the taro patches, or interest in land, subject to the feudal chief.
Hewabewa, a very old witness, was sworn: He gave an intelligent detail of the ancient usage and custom relative to adoption, and fully concurred in the statement of the first witness. He also stated that he knew the parents of Kaauaupa; her father was Kaahumanu, and her mother Ailini; that Kaauaupa was born in 1827, and that he heard from her mother, Ailini, in 1839, that she had been given to Puhalahua and Nakuopu, and adopted by them; that he was absent on Hawaii some years, but that on his return in 1845, he found Kaauaupa living with her adopted parents, and that she lived with them up to the time of the death of Puhalahua, and then with Nakuopu, till her death; that he had frequently understood from Puhalahua and his wife, that she was adopted.
Humea was a witness, who testified as to the birth and parentage of Kaauaupa; that she had been raised by Puhalahua and Nakuopu, his wife, and lived with them till they died; that he had heard the parents of Kaauaupa declare that they had given her to Puhalahua and Nakuopu for adoption.
Kekukahiko was sworn, and testified as to the birth and parentage of Kaauaupa. Her father was Kaahumanu and her mother was Ailini; Kaauaupa was born in 1827; during the sandal-wood expedition in 1827 or 1828, was present when Kaahumanu and Ailini, the parents of Kaauaupa gave her to Puhalahua and Nakuopu, and witness informed the King of the fact; that Kaauaupa lived with her adopted parents until their death; had frequently heard her recognized by them as their adopted child.
Kapuu testified that he knew the birth and parentage of Kaauaupa, and was present when she was given by her parents to Puhalahua and Nakuopu, that he was a hired man and lived in the house for many years; that Kaauaupa lived with them as their child, and that she was given in marriage by theirs; that he had heard the adoption frequently recognized by both the natural and adopted parents. She lived with Puhalahua and Nakuopu till they died.
Kuaana, sure that she knows the claimant Kaauaupa, that she was married to Kekahili her son; that Puhalahua and Nakuopu came to her and said that they wanted her son to marry their daughter Kaauaupa; she said we have come to get your son to marry our daughter Kaauaupa; she gave her consent and they were married. Kaauaupa and husband lived with Puhalahua and Nakuopu till they died. Claimant was treated and cared for as a child.
J. Moanauli testified that he lived in the next yard to decedents Puhalalua and Nakuopu three years beginning in 1846; that he saw claimant living with them heard that Puhalahua and Nakuopu was her adopted parents (makua hanai) ; heard this both from Puhalahua and Kaahumanu. Kaauaupa lived with them till their death.
Kohihi testified that she knew the claimant; that she the witness, lived with Puhalahu and Nakuopu from the year 1866 till their death; that claimant, Kaauaupa, also lived with them, fed Puhalahua and administered medicine to him; after his death she lived with Nakuopu; administered medicine to her and was present at her death; Nakuopu told the witness that the claimant, Kaauaupa, was her daughter–”he kaikamahine:” she would not send her daughter on errands, “That was my business–I was a servant.”
The claimant here concluded her testimony, and defendant read the testimony of P. Kanoa. Which was to the effect that he knew the parents of Kaauaupa: Kaahumanu was her father, Ailini her mother; knew nothings of the adoption–frequently visited the house of Puhalahua and Nakuopu, some times saw claimant there.
He also stated the law of adoption to be that when chiefs took the children of chiefs, they adopted them for good; but that when they took the children of common people, they only took them temporarily to raise them. That Kaahumanu, the father of Kaauaupa, was a chief, so was Puhalahua, but Kaahumanu was a chief of higher grade than Puhalahua. He also stated that when persons died possessing property and heirs, in the absence of a verbal will, they all inherited alike, both natural and adopted children.
Kaaihue lived with Puhalahua since 1850, was his secretary; claimant lived at her own house in 1853. This witness generally swears contrary to all the testimony of the preceding witnesses. He stated that Kaauaupa was a relation and that she tended Puhalahua in 1863 when sick; visited them at times on account of the relationship; after the death of Puhalahua, lived with Nakuopu altogether till her death.
Wailea knew the claimant since the California excitement, lived with Puhalahua and Nakuopu as one of their people; that the claimant came there occasionally; was there a week before Nakuopu’s death. This witness, like the last, generally swore directly to the contrary of the claimant’s interests.
One new witness was introduced by the respondents, and the testimony generally concurred with that of the last witness, and was negative in its character.
The Court charged the jury very impartially, who retired, and returned a verdict in favor of Kaauaupa, declaring that she was the adopted daughter of Puhalahua and Nakuopu.
Mr. Judd, for respondents, gave notice that he would file a motion for a new trial.
Many emails that I receive are in regards to a hanai or adopted relative. Depending on whether it is a hanai adoption or a legal adoption with an agency, genealogy tactics will differ. Soon, I will follow-up this post with a case study of a hanai adoption I worked on. And, I have an 1869 Hawaiian Gazette documentation of a court case among a hanai child and hanai family that I will post soon, with interesting notes on ancient hanai customs, including a quote from historian S.M. Kamakau.
This particular post concentrates on adoption customs in ancient Hawaii. It is important to understand the culture of the time, in order to research in the present.
There are three forms of adoption in ancient Hawaii.
Ho’okama, which is when adopting parents took in another person’s child as their own.
Handy and Pukui describe it:
The adopting parent becomes to the child makua ho’okama (literally ‘parent making child his own’), while the child is known as kaikamahine ho’okama if it is a girl and kaiki ho’okama if a boy. The relationship comes about as a result of mutual affection and agreement, at first tacit, then unobtrusively discussed, between the child and the older person; the part of the child’s true parents, if living, is normally negative; although if there is a strong dislike for the would-be adopting parent the true parent is capable of interfering. This is a relationship involving love, respect and courtesy, but not necessary responsibility of any sort, and rarely a change of residence. (1958: 71)
Ho’okama also refers to adoptions by older persons of younger adults: kaikua’ana ho’okama (kaikua’ana ‘older sibling of the same sex as speaker’), kaikaina ho’okama (kaikaina ‘younger sibling of the same sex as speaker’), kaikuahine ho’okama (kaikuahine ‘sister’ when male is speaking) or kaikunane ho’okama (kaikunane ‘brother’ when female is speaking). (Pukui and Elbert 1957:115)
The second form of adoption in ancient Hawaii include Ho’okane, or Ho’owahine, which Handy and Pukui describe as “an adoptive platonic marital relationship between persons of opposite sex.”
Hoeawa of Puna became the kane ho’okane of a prominent Hilo-pali-ku woman named Hela. Both were married. Hoeawa and Hela were a as good to each other as brother and sister. Hoeawa’s niece used to go to Hela’s with her cousin, Hoeawa’s daughter, and both were treated like own nieces. Hela died many years before Hoeawa. She used to give him gifts to take home, and his wife used to make fine mats for him to take to his wahine ho’owahine. Such wahine ho’owahine and kane ho’okane never made love to each other (1958:55).
The most familiar form of adoption is hanai, in which the child is taken into another household and brought up as their own child. “The evidence available to us from elderly informants and documentary sources suggest that four principles were of particular importance in the traditional patterning of hanai relations. These were kinship and seniority between the natural parents and the adopting parents, and the age and sex of the child. (Carroll 1970; 24)”
Things to know in regards to hanai adoptions:
- Hanai children were almost always taken from within one’s own family.
- Seniority was very relevant. If a senior relative asked for a junior’s relative child, it was impossible to refuse the request. Grandparents often asked for grandchildren, who helped to take care of them in their old age. It is also the case if an elder sibling is unable to have children to let her hanai one of your many children.
- Sex of the child was significant. First-born males were considered to belong to the father’s side, and the first female child was said to belong to the mother’s side.
- Hawaiians were very careful as to the parentage of a hanai child and did not adopt indiscriminately as is often believed. (Kenn 1939:47).
Various reasons for adoption:
- The desire to create a bond between one’s family and that of the adopting parents. This was especially important for chiefs who were thus assured alliances with other alii (Horn 1948:24; Goo 1958:17).
- The belief that twins must be reared apart lest one or both of them die (Hormann n.d.).
- The belief in ‘uhu kapu ‘taboo lap’. According to this belief some women were so kapu that they could not raise their own children. Uhu kapu was believed to result from the fondness of an aumakua ‘a personal or family god’ for a woman. The aumakua did not want the woman who was dear to it to be soiled by the urine and feces of an infant; if such a woman attempted to raise her own children, it was thought that the children would die or become crippled (Handy and Pukui 1958:48-49). The children of such a woman had to be raised by others.
- Alii siblings of opposite sex might be raised apart in order that they might marry later in life without regarding each other as brother and sister. Such unions would produce offspring who were alii niau pio ‘chiefs who were higher in rank than either of their parents’ (Green and Beckwith 1924:246).
- The belief that to refuse a request to hanai a child was to risk death or sickness of the child from the sorcery of the jealous would-be adopter (Yamamura 1941:137-138; Forster 1960:98).
- A desire to have a child learn skills not possessed by his parents. In such case, the child might be apprenticed to an expert, into whose home he was taken, becoming for all practical purposes an adoptive member of the family (Handy and Pukui 1958:258).
“Only as a last resort do Hawaiians rely upon adoption agencies” (Carroll 1970; 32). If the parents were to die, siblings were expected to hanai the children. If there were no senior relatives, then the oldest child was responsible for the younger brothers and sisters.
1970, Adoption in Easter Oceania. University of Hawaii Press.
[Note: All citations in this post were found through this book. It's a great reference to find more documents about adoption in Hawaii.]
1960, “The Hawaiian family system of Hana, Maui, 1957.” Journal of the Polynesian Society 69:92-103.
Green, Laura C., and Martha Warren Beckwith
1924, “Hawaiian customs and beliefs relating to birth and infancy.” American Anthropologist 26:230-246.
Goo, Sau Moi Wong, R.Y. Masuda, G.O. Moriguchi, M. Yamaguchi, and E.S. Young
1958, “A Study of the socio-cultural characteristics of patients known to the Mental Health Clinic, Bureau of Clinical Service, Division of Mental Health, Honolulu County.” Master’s thesis, University of Hawaii.
Handy, E.S. Craighill, and Mary Kawena Pukui
1958, The Polynesian Family System in Ka’u Hawaii. Polynesian Society Reprints, Series no. 6. Wellington, N.Z.: The Polynesian Society.
Hormann, Bernhard L. (collector)
1960, Unpublished papers from the confidential files of the Romanzo Adams Social Research Laboratory. Written for sociology classes, University of Hawaii. Author’s names not given.
1948, “Adoption customs in old Hawaii.” Paradise of the Pacific 60:23-25.
Kenn, Charles W.
1939, “Some Hawaiian relationship terms re-examined,” Social Process in Hawaii 5:46-50. Honolulu: Sociology Club of the University of Hawaii.
Yamamura, Douglas Shigeharu
1941, “A study of some of the factors in the education of the child of Hawaiian ancestry in Hana, Maui.” Master’s thesis, University of Hawaii.
I have been researching a few families and reacquainted myself to the Kalihi Family History Center. For anyone researching their family, I recommend beginning at the the Mormon Family History Centers in your area. Here are the Hawaii locations. And, they are manned by people who have been involved in genealogy research for years, so they are very helpful and knowledgeable.
I’ve received quite a few emails for assistance with finding more information about hanai family members. There is some information here. But, one resource often times overlooked are Land Records. Usually when individuals sold property, they explained how they were entitled to be owners of the property. Sometimes they also explained their relationship to the person receiving the property when it was a family member.
Another thing I’m working on is creating pdf documents for download of the 1878/1985 Hawaii census. I’ve had these digitized from microfilm, and will be putting them online, as time permits, over the next few months. I believe it’s a resource that needs to be online, and I hope it will help some of you in your research.
By Christine Hitt
I’ve received requests over the years asking for information about Hawaiians who joined the Hudson’s Bay Company and settled in the Pacific Northwest. Many people are still not aware that there is a large community of Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest, who descended from ancestors who traveled there in the early to mid-19th century during the fur trade. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for them to make a family connection back to Hawaii, unless the information was passed down orally from generation to generation.
Many Hawaiians in the region were referred by the same singular Hawaiian name: “kanaka,” or a variance of it, ie. kanak, canack, etc. If the person’s actual Hawaiian name was documented, it was usually spelled differently on different documents, and sometimes names changed completely for various reasons. This makes it very difficult to track people from document to document.
Another difficulty in tracing family origins back to Hawaii: Hawaii’s passenger manifests dating back to 1843 only make references to Hawaiians traveling to the Columbia River as numbers, without names. “Eight Kanakas” is what I read on one manifest, today. On another document dated February 11, 1840, Hawaii Governor Kekuanaoa agreed to let George Pelly (of the Hudson’s Bay Company) take “60 Hawaiians for 3 years.” There are no names. As you can see now, it is also difficult to find useful genealogical records in the mid-19th century in Hawaii.
While it is difficult for Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest to trace their origins back to Hawaii, they hold a proud history and many continued to uphold the culture as they could. It is a story to be shared.
For more on this topic, I recommend reading New Land, New Lives: Hawaiian Settlement in British Columbia, (which will also have info on the photos in this blog post). For more on the Hudson’s Bay Company, visit the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives. You may also visit my other page: NW Coast Hawaiians.
By Christine Hitt
“Pre-contact Hawaii had 350-450 fishponds. Today, there are only 50 in the state that are still useable,” explained Kelii Kotubetey coordinator of Paepae o Heeia.
As I was browsing the archives for historic fishpond photos, you can see first-hand how fishponds were filled in. The first photo, taken in 1930s over Kaneohe Bay. The second in 1950s. See more fishpond photos in the gallery.
By Christine Hitt
I helped put together this video for http://www.honolulumagazine.com. It was great to learn first-hand the Hawaiian traditional practices of building a Hawaiian fishpond. In ancient Hawaii, the entire community (thousands of people) lined up and worked together to build these by handing rocks person-to-person, as we did in the video. It provided self-sustaining food for each ahupuaa.
I dug up the old fishpond photos (from the Hawaii State Archives) shown in the video, and will have more to share soon. Join in the efforts to restore this fishpond on second Saturdays. Visit paepaeoheeia.org for details.
Kahoolawe and Lanai: Tiny Isles, Were Homes of Exiles
Kings banished men to one inhospitable spot, and women to the other, but lonely males crossed the water and rescued or captured the ladies, so they all became one settlement.
From THRUM’S HAWAIIAN ANNUAL of 1903
Among the events and conditions of dawning Hawaiian civilization that has been overlooked by historians and voyagers, with but two exceptions so far discovered is that of the island of Kahoolawe as a penal settlement.
Many of the older residents recall the common rumor in their early days here of that barren island having been a convict station, but, like the writer, are at a loss to define either the time of its designation as such, or its date of termination.
Notwithstanding the unsavoryness of the subject the fact that a chapter of Hawaiian history, illustrating the development toward civilization has been missed, is of sufficient interest to demand equiry and investigation, hence this effort to embody such factsas can now be ascertained for future reference, or additions if discovered.
Looking for the commencement of banishment for offences in these islands, the “blue book” of first published laws, of 1842, reveals the existence of its practice at that time but defining no locality, for chapter XLIV, entitled “A law respecting banished persons” refers to their treatment, while penalities of banishment are prescribed in the laws on forgery, counterfeiting, perjury, lewdness, assault, theft, burglary and degrees of murder. Its origin, therefore, antidates the first written laws.
It seems evident that in framing these first written laws they were made to embody what had been promulgated by royal edict. In their emergence from heathen darkness the king and chiefs were led to observe grades of punishment according to the depth of crime, instead of many alike being punishable by death, according to their former custom.
Is is thought by some that this law of banishment shows evidence of Kaahumanu’s hand. If so, it would date back to about 1830, or earlier, her death occurring in June, 1832. “Alexander’s Brief History,” under the subject of “Persecution of Catholics,” (page 206) has the following fact confirming its early existence:
“Louisa, a native woman who had been baptized in California, *** remaining firm in her belief, was treated with severity. Kaahumanu even intended to send her to Kahoolawe (which was then used as a place of banishment) but was dissuaded from doing so by Mr. Richards.”
In its origin, doubtless the fact that not a few escaped convicts from Botany Bay, who had made their presence felt on these shores in early days had familiarized the king and chiefs with the subject of banishment, was an influence toward its recognition and adoption here as a penalty for crime. While the time and circumstance of its origin is clouded with uncertainty, it appears to have been a working factor at the time of the visit at these islands of Wilkes’ Exploring Expedition, in 1840-41. The account therein given is the only one published by an early writer, so far met with, and though somewhat contradictory gives important data to work upon. We extract from the record (Vol. IV, pp. 244-5) as follows:
“Kahoolawe *** is fourteen miles long by five miles wide. It is uninhabited except by a few fisherman, and is used as a place of exile; at this time there was one state prisoner confined on it. Lieut. Budd *** set out in search of the town. *** After wandering over the rugged face of this barren island for many miles he discovered, to his great joy, from the top of a ridge, a cluster of huts near the water, which they soon reached. They proved to be inhabited by Kenemoneha, the exile above spoken of, who for the crime of forgery had been condemned to spend five years in exile upon this island. This was effected in a singular manner, and the punishment of the offender will serve to show the mode in which the laws are carried into execution.
“The chief Kenemoneha treated Lieut. Budd with great kindness, supplied him with dry clothing and gave him of his scanty fare. The village is a collection of eight huts and an unfurnished adobe church. The chief has three large canoes for his use. **
“The only article produced on the island is the sweet potato, and but a small quantity of these. All the inhabitants of the island are convicts, and receive their food from Maui; their present number is about fifteen. Besides this cluster of convicts’ huts there are one or two houses on the north end inhabited by old women. Some of the convicts are allowed to visit the other islands, but not to remain.”
The time of this visit was in March, 1841. In the census both of 1832 and 1836 Kahoolawe is credited with a population of eighty, but it has not figured in the census tables of any later period.
In the early part of 1858 it was first leased for a sheep station, which was the occasion of a communication in the Polynesian of April 10th, of that year, in which the following reminiscence relating to the island is given:
“It used to be a penal settlement, and no doubt the convicts enjoyed there as much ease and freedom from both surveillance and labor as their hearts could wish. I have heard that the late Kinimaka had a fine time of it. He was a native of some little rank and had his own dependants who used to swim from the shores of Maui and take him what he wanted to make his banishment entirely agreeable.
“I have also heard that one George Morgan was the last convict placed there, and that one or two females used to render passable that utter solitude which is never so well enjoyed as in agreeable company. George used to hunt the wild hogs and cultivate a little patch of land. I believe he used, also, to back down his drinking water from some considerable distance. He was a shoemaker by trade, and if, as many followers of Crispin have been, he was of a poetical turn of mind, he must have had a fine opportunity for the indulgence of his fancies.”
Enquiring among Hawaiians upon this subject we have an account from a venerable native writer of this city, formerly of Honouaula, Maui who testifies of his own knowledge not only of the existence of the penal settlement of Kahoolawe about the year 1840, but one also at Lae-o-kaena, Lanai; the former island being designated for the men, and the women being banished to the latter place. He states he know whereof he spoke, for his own mother was among the parties sent there. In the narrative he furnishes we gather some particulars of the daring escapade of the Kahoolawe convicts, vaguely touched upon in the foregoing extract from the Polynesian.
According to this statement the new law was by decree in a council of the kings and chiefs, before legislative enactments, and was promulgated by Kaukeaouli. The crime of murder was punishable by death; theft and adultery by exile, the men being sent to Kahoolawe and the women to Lanai. The narrator claims to have been born in 1832 at a place on Maui that had much to do with Kahoolawe, being right opposite it, and these things were freely talked of among the people. There was much sadness and wailing at the arrests made under the new law on the parties being locked up at Lahaina for a subsequent trial, before the governor, and sentenced to one island or another.
The women were conveyed across to Lae-o-kaena by the schooner Hooikaika, afterwards the men were sent to Kahoolawe, among whom was the Maui chief Kinimaka, who was designated as superintendent of the exiles. The work he assigned to them was the erection of houses of stone and dirt (adobe) at a place called Kaulana, a small bay, where with some residents they numbered 80 or more. After its designation as a convict station the former settlers left and returned to Honuaula, whence most of them had come.
In those days much trouble existed among the exiles for want of food; they even eat of the kupala in their distress. This was found of good size; usually it is fed to the hogs. It somewhat resembles a sweet potato, but on a steady diet dysentery and its attendant conditions would result. At this critical time they considered what course to pursue and decided to swim over to Maui, for life or death. Fifteen of the number, good swimmers, were chosen for the venturesome trip, and their return was to be looked for with a food supply in six days, or be considered drowned, or captured.
These deliverers prepared for their errand in the month of February, 1841. Before starting they procured a wiliwili log to which they fastened a rope and with a stone anchored it out at a depth of fifteen fathoms where the tide ran swiftly, as a buoy, that on its indication of the tide running towards Maui would be the time to start. Meanwhile they held old-time devotions at an altar called Aikupau, then set out to swim across. And as they swam vigorously it was not long before they reached Molokini, the cluster of rock in mid-channel, where they rested awhile. Toward nightfall, they resumed their swimming till they landed at Puuolai, near Makena, not so much tired as they were hungry. They therefore quickly sought out a grove of cocoa-nut trees from which they obtained a food supply. Six of their number were familiar with the locality and guided the party inland to a cave where they remained till morning, when they set out for the potato patches and gathered a quantity in bundles, making three trips nightly for three nights. They then appropriated several canoes for their needs and loading them returned to Kahoolawe according to the time agreed upon.
Subsequently they returned for further supplies and commited like depredations. From Kalepolepo and Maalae they stole five canoes then proceeded along the shore to Ukumehame and Olowalu, where they took others. They pulled all the taro of these two places, and also of Waikapu, which they loaded into the canoes and set out for Kahoolawe. With these canoes they afterward went over to Lae-o-kaena, Lanai, and brought all the women to Kahoolawe to share their solitude. By these acts of the convicts a fear of them prevailed so that they were not molested by the government, but they lived peacably together until in 1843, during Lord George’s rule when, it is said, he put an end to the ridiculous law and sent the exiles to their respective localities to work upon the roads.
The acts of Lord George’s admistration are all matters of record, but they reveal nothing which confirms this story of his abrogating the law or laws of penal servitude as above stated, though he did release a number of persons that were confined in the fort for certain offences. It is possible, however, that in the “Act of Grace” of Kamehameha III, in commemoration of the restoration of the flag by Admiral Thomas July 31st of that year, whereby “all prisoners of every description” committed for offenses during the period of cession “from Hawaii to Niihau be immediately discharged,” royal clemency was extended to include prisoners of earlier conviction, since which time the laws on banishment appear to have been a dead letter long before, dropped from the statutes, apparently without special repeal.
November 20, 2011BY Christine Hitt
While interviewing Bill Kaiheekai Maioho (see previous post), he shared this painting depicting Hoapili and Hoolulu taking Kamehameha’s iwi to its final destination.
May 4, 2010
BY Christine Hitt
I wrote this story for HONOLULU Magazine’s May 2010 issue… you can view it here.
A Family’s Kuleana
Caring for the bones at the Royal Mausoleum is a responsibility passed down through generations.
I have some extra notes I’m going to post for this story in a future blog… He had some amazing stories to share and I feel very privileged to have met him.
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