The following stories have been selected for the variety of outlooks they present on the development of Hawaii from its discovery by Polynesian seafarers around 100 A.D. or so, to the present. Most of the stories are factual, some are fiction, but all offer a glimpse into the culturally diverse melting pot that is Hawaii. Enjoy!
Tales from the Night Rainbow By Pali Jae Lee and Koko Willis This very personal account, related in the first person by Kaili’ohe Kame’ekua (1816-1931) is a Hawaiian history seen from the point of view of the original settlers, who were invaded in the 13th century by Tahitian conquerors, the ali’i.
Kaili’ohe was in a rare position to shed some light on Hawaiian history: As well as being born during the reign of Kamehameha I and living until 1931, she was recognized in her youth as a kaula (prophet or seer), and was trained to remember the complete geneology of her ‘ohana (clan), extending back to pre -Tahitian invasion times.
The Discovery of the Hawaiian Islands By James Cook. Written by Captain Cook himself, this is an excellent peek into the Hawaii that Cook found, as well as a slice of 18th century British naval life.
Captain Cook in Hawaii by James King Taken from “A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean” which he co-wrote with Cook.
The Last Days of Captain Cook By James Burney. Cook’s ill-fated second visit to Hawaii is here described by the first lieutenant of the Discovery.
Hawaii 1786 By John Nicol, cooper on the King George, Nathaniel Portlock’s flagship, which arrived in Hawaii in 1785.
With Vancouver at Kealakekua Bay By Thomas Manby. Fourteen years after the death of Captain Cook, Captain George Vancouver stopped by Kealakekua Bay, site of Cook’s death.
The Gustavus III By John Bartlett. John Bartlett was a seaman aboard the Gustavus III, an English fur-trading vessel that put into Hawaii in 1791.
A Scotsman in Honolulu By Archibald Campbell, a Scottish sailor on an American ship, who wound up in Hawaii in 1809, and became part of Kamehameha I’s household.
A Russian Visits Kamehameha I By Otto van Kotzebue. Otto von Kotzebue was commander of the brig Rurik, sent on an around the world expedition by the Czar Alexander of Russia in 1816. The Rurik appeared in Hawaii at an interesting time: Unknown to Kotzebue, a German adventurer, Dr. George Anton Scheffer, claiming to represent the Czar, had entrenched himself and his party in a corner of Kauai, with the permission of Kamehameha’s enemy, King Kaumualii. Kamehameha suspected that the Rurik had come to reenforce Scheffer’s party.
Leaves from a Missionary’s Diary By Laura Fish Judd. In 1828, among the “Third Company” of missionaries to arrive in Hawaii, was Gerrit P. Judd, destined to be a major political force in the kingdom. His wife, Laura, sets down in her diary her first impressions.
Bullock Hunters of the Kohala Range By F. A. Olmsted. The descendants of George Vancouver’s gift of cattle to Kamehameha I ran wild and prospered thanks to the king’s tabu upon killing them. A few years later, it became necessary to control their ravages, and the Hawaiian cowboy (paniolo) was born.
Between Heathenism and Missionaryism By James J. Jarves. Jarves was the editor of the Polynesian, a Honolulu newspaper in the 1830’s. A balanced view of the results of the missionary influence on the Honolulu society of the time.
Two Victorian Ladies Visit Honolulu By Sophia Cracroft. A lively description of Honolulu in 1861.
Equestrian Excursion to Diamond Head By Mark Twain. America’s favorite humorist holds forth on his adventures in paradise in 1866.
Mark Twain Visits Kona America’s favorite humorist arrived in Honolulu on March 18, 1866. Here’s his take on his visit to the Kona coast of the Big Island.
A Visit to the Volcano By Mark Twain. Even Mr. Twain, that perennial humorist, is sobered by his experience of Kilauea Volcano in 1866.
Honolulu, 1873 By Isabella Bird. Isabella Bird, first female fellow of the Royal Geographical Society spent six months in Hawaii in 1873.