John Wise on Hawaiian Homes and more, 1921.

The Question about the Work Ethic of Hawaiians.

Your writer [John Wise], continues to defend the Hawaiian lahui from being attacked by that question above.

The Hawaiians have perhaps become much talked about amongst those who do not know them and who are not familiar with their accomplishments of today and of the past. And maybe mostly these days for the land being given to us. Your writer frequently clashes with all kinds of other people who protest the giving of land to Hawaiians, because of the ridiculous idea that they don’t know how to work or that they are lazy.

In these attacks, we can see, O Lahui, that they are carried with criticisms and that it is would be a waste to confirm their misbeliefs. But so that the Hawaiians may answer these questions, your writer wants to be made known for all times the sound justification for our side. The readers of past issues of the Kuokoa have seen the responses given by the Commissioner in Washington, and they have seen also the other justifications given, in the newspaper.

The ultimate representation of the skill of a people is their supplying themselves with food and the things necessary for their livelihood. There perhaps is no better response than that. This lahui was living by  themselves for centuries, supplying themselves with everything, and received no assistance from the outside.

But there are things made by this lahui, things that attest to their fine craftsmanship, that will serve as a measure of their skills. Those that see Hawaiian canoes and their manufacture and how they can get Hawaiians through great gales, remaining solid in the dangers of the pounding of waves; how they could make beautiful canoes by using stone adzes; the distance they were taken from mountain to the sea; the patience of the canoe makers. All of these things will show, without being contradicted, that just by seeing the quality of the canoes can one see that this is a lahui that knows how to work. We see the canoes of today being made by people from other lands, and the canoes made by Hawaiians are far more well made and beautiful.

The beauty of things crafted by a people are undeniable proof of the work ethic of that people. Where will you find things more beautiful, O Hawaiians, if you travel all over the world, than the ahuula that are preserved at the Museum of Kamehameha School. Where is the lahui that lives on today, or perhaps has disappeared, that can make these outstanding works, with a beauty second to none, with fine craftsmanship, and patience; with a true sense of work ethic. Snaring birds is a great task all in itself, the inserting [kuku ana] of the feathers is a big job. One mamo feather cloak was said to have been started during the time of Umi and completed during the time of Kamehameha. For this ahu, the entire ahu were done with mamo feathers. And by our counting back, we see that ten generations of ancient kings passed on before the completion of this ahu; showing that it took from about 250 to 300 years of work. Where is there a great work that was completed by a people taking hundreds of years to construct? We perhaps can think of huge things, but as for something of this nature which required the knowledge and patience of men, there is no equal. Continue reading