James Kekela reports from Tahiti, 1890.


The letter below is by Rev. James Kekela to Dr. C. M. Hyde, and we were given permission to publish it.

Papeete, August 6, 1890.

Rev. C. M. Hyde,

Much aloha to you and your wife, and your children. It has been a long time that we have not associated through letters. All of us Hawaiian Missionaries are in good health here in the Archipelago of Nuuhiwa, except for the wife of S. Kauwealoha, she is somewhat weak and frail; she was like this for the past four months, but she has gotten a little better now; I saw them in Uapou during the first week of this past July.

I am here these days in Papeete to fetch her (my youngest daughter) to bring her back to be a teacher at the French language school in Hivaoa for the Nuuhiwa girls. This daughter of ours has been living in Tahiti for 4 years and she is prepared to teach the French language. She was approved by the teachers and the French government officials here in Tahiti. In the last days of June, I left Puamau and travelled to Nuuhiwa and reached there, where the boat [? kusie] had left for Tahiti, and I went for a bit to Uapou to meet with S. Kauwealoha them for a whole week and returned to Taiohae in Nuuhiwa to wait for the ship from California.

July 29, I left Taiohae and left for Tahiti, on the 2nd of August I reached Papeete after a four days’ trip, and I am living here these days, waiting for a boat to go to Nuuhiwa. I met with the French Protestant [Pelosetane] missionary teachers in Papeete, Mr. Verenie and his wife, the pastor for the kamaaina, and they have a fine church, and they had me give a sermon on the Sabbath. They were very happy to hear about the works of God in the Archipelago of Nuuhiwa and Hawaii and the land of Micronesia [Maikonisia]. As for here in the archipelago of Tahiti, this was the first islands to hear the gospel of Jesus.

The first missionaries have all died, and their children have all gone back to England and the southern islands of Rarotonga, Samoa, Solomon, Fiji, and Papua. The adults recall the work of first missionaries from Britain; they knew the Bible, and that is what they concentrated on.

Here is this new French Protestant missionary, Verenie and his wife, and C. Vienot and his wife. My daughter was living with that family. There are three unmarried women who are the protestant teachers. There is a Catholic school here as well attended by some. Tahiti and Moorea [Moarea] belonged to the French before, along with the archipelago of Pomuta and Nuuhiwa.

In 1889, a war broke out between the kamaaina of Raiatea and the French ships, from then until now, the Fench ships have just waited without shooting, while the kamaaina on shore also have not done any shooting. And this month, in July, the French are at war in Huahine, and the locals have lost, and the French flag has been raised there; Borabora acquiesced to being under the nation of France. In a little while, Raiatea will sign a treaty to be under the French flag, and France and the warships are all ready. There is now in port a huge warship from Honolulu, which arrived perhaps on the 30th of July, and there is also the French ship Champlain from Raiatea, Huahine, and Borabora, where it was doing battle in those lands, and it reported on what was going on.

The work of the Lord in the lands of Nuuhiwa, in our hands, has not gone very smoothly, as intended by those doing the work. The turning of the many to Jesus is what would be truly righteous, and that is what is truly desired.

We are teaching the people as to our abilities given by the Lord. There is great darkness and ignorance and vice enveloping the people of this land.

Nuuhiwa is under the administration of the French leaders. There is a French governor, judge, tax collector, doctor, and on the other islands, there are French sheriffs [? mutoi]. Some of their actions are good, while others are not good. Their road work is good; they encourage the parents to send their children to go to school and to feed them, and those ideas are good. However they are not pure people, they take the Tahitian women without marrying them, and so too when they go to Nuuhiwa, they do not marry, and when their term as mutoi is up, they return to Tahiti or France, discarding the women. The ignorant look to the actions of the enlightened people from Christian lands. We however are not unsure or grown lax in the work of Lord Jesus. We are hopeful, praying to Him, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”  Give my aloha nui to your theological school [kula kahunapule], to Rev. Smith folks, our fellow devout ones in Honolulu, to Parker folks, as well as his mother and sisters.

Please pray much for us to the Lord so that the Kingdom of the Lord is victorious here in the lands of Nuuhiwa. Aloha nui ia oukou a pau [Kaoha nui o tou a pao.]–Your fellow laborer, J. Kekela.

(Kuokoa, 10/4/1890, p. 3)


Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke XXIX, Helu 40, Aoao 3. Okatoba 4, 1890.

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