Biography of Henry Opukahaia, 1865–1866.

Here is one of a number of times where the Hawaiian-Language Newspapers run the biography of Heneri Opukahaia. This is a translation of the book, “MEMOIR OF HENRY OBOOKIAH, A NATIVE OF THE SANDWICH ISLANDS, WHO DIED AT CORNWALL, CONNECTICUT, FEBRUARY 17, 1818, AGED 26.” by Rev. E. W. Dwight. The story runs in the Kuokoa from 9/9/1865 until 3/24/1866.

This is not the same text as the book published later in Hawaiian in 1867 in New York: “KA MOOLELO O HENERI OPUKAHAIA, UA HANAUIA MA HAWAII, M. H. 1787, A UA MAKE MA AMERIKA, FEBERUARI 17, 1818. OIA KA HUA MUA O HAWAII NEI.” The published book is based on the same English story, but is edited for errors, and includes further information gathered by Rev. S. W. Papaula in Kealakekua. That being said, most books in Hawaiian were first printed as a serial in the newspapers first, and then published as a book.

It opens this way:

The Story of Henry



Heneri Opukahaia is from Hawaii, the famous and densely populated island of the Hawaiian Archipelago. He was born in the year 1792. His parents were makaainana, however, his mother was connected to chiefly circles. Her name was Kumuola, and the name of his father is not known. When Opukahaia reached the age of perhaps ten or twelve, his parents were killed before his eyes. There were but two in his family that survived, he and his youngest sibling who was three months old. He hoped to save his young sibling from the tragedy which befell upon his parents, so he grabbed his little sibling and placed it upon his back and ran from the enemy; however, he was found by those chasing after them, and the younger sibling was cruelly killed. That telling of that account is written in another book according to what was told by Opukahaia…

[If you are in or around Hilo this Monday, consider checking out the talk by Deborah Liʻikapeka Lee on Opukahaia at the Lyman Museum. For more information see the Lyman Museum page.]

(Kuokoa, 9/9/1865, p. 2)

Ka Moolelo o Heneri Opukahaia.

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke IV, Helu 36, Aoao 2. Sepatemaba 9, 1865.


5 thoughts on “Biography of Henry Opukahaia, 1865–1866.

  1. Aloha mai – I wrote my MA Thesis, “The Life and Legacy of Heneri Opukahaia, Hawaii’s Prodigal Son,” in 2011 for the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. In it I noted that he was born in 1787; orphaned in 1797 at the Battle of Kaipalaoa in Hilo, Hawai`i, at 10 years of age; departed Hawai`i in 1807; and arrived in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1809.
    Upon his arrival in America he was illiterate. At the time of his death in 1818, he was eloquent in English, Hawaiian, and Hebrew, while being knowledgeable of Greek and Latin. In all 5 languages, he read and wrote well.
    My thesis is available from the Hamilton Library at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa and available online from University of Boston. Mahalo, wayne hinano brumaghim.


  2. Hulo! Makemake au i kope o kau pepa ia kakau ai no ka mo’olelo o ‘Opukaha’ia. Noho au i CT a kama’aina ho’i au i ko ‘Opukaha’ia mo’olelo. I kela makahiki aku nei ‘oiai au ma Maui, hele au i ka halepule – i ko Ka’ahumanu halepule – aia ma Wailuku – a ma ka pa mau’u ma laila ma waho o ka halepule ua kanu ‘ia na iwi o kekahi o ko ‘Opukaha’ia hoakula, ‘o John Honoli’i – a kahea ‘ia ho’i ka inoa o kela wahi ma waho o ka halepule ‘o John Honoli’i Paka. Noho ‘oia ma Konewele we ‘Opukaha’ia.

    Makemake au i kope o kau pepa i kakau ai no ‘Opukaha’ia. E kokua mai ke ‘olu’olu pehea e loa’a ai kahi kope ia’u?


    Pohaku Snyder


    • Aloha mai – Mahalo no i kau leka uila. Kakau aku nei wau i kau palapala (MA Hawaiian Studies, UH 2011) e pili ana o ka moolelo o Heneri Opukahaia. Ua hanau ia ma Hawaii, makahiki 1787, a make ma Amerika, makahiki 1818. Ke aloha no ia oukou, wayne hinano brumaghim.


      • makemake au e heluhelu kau palapala MA pū, ke ‘olu‘olu. ‘O Henri ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia kekahi kupuna no ka ‘ohana Ho‘omanawanui, a ua lawelawe ‘ia kona mau iwi mai Connecticut iā ka moku o Hawai’i mai ka ‘ohana. me ke aloha, ku’ualoha ho’omanawanui


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