History of volcanic activities and why the newspapers need to be rescanned as clearly as possible, 1868–for the present, for the future.

[Found under: “Ke Ahi Pele Nui ma Hawaii. NA OLAI KUPINAI. KE KAI HOEE NUI! MAKE WELIWELI MA KAU! Na Palapala a na Makamaka mai Hawaii mai, eia iho malalo:”]

On Thursday at 3 in the afternoon, that being the 2nd of this April, there came a great powerful earthquake, and people could not stand upright, and so too the animals. The soil of the earth spew up into the sky like smoke and hills tumbled down; large trees fell, and some of the valleys were filled, and houses fell; the number of houses which fell numbered 30 or more; and 3 churches fell, the churches of Kahuku and Waiohinu and Punaluu; and there is a large pit at Kahuku that is 80 feet in circumference and 350 feet or more deep, and from within this pit rose steam like the steam of the volcanic crater; the distance from the port of Kaalualu to this pit is 6 miles or so; and there are many other deeds carried out by God.

15 minutes after the earthquake, there was a tsunami, and some people died in the tide; the number of those who died as a result of this tide was 46, and those barely surviving have not being counted; some of the bodies have been found, and other bodies have not been found, the tide carried out their bodies. The distance that the sea came in from where it rests as from days of old up to where it stopped was 167 feet. There were two risings of the tide, and then it was over; when the tide receded, you could see many fishes, but the two fishes that were not seen were the whale and the salmon.

The land began to shake slightly on Friday night until the day mentioned above; on the fifth day and the sixth night, the great earthquake was felt; all of those here in Kau ran out of their houses, and the place were people stayed was amongst the grass on beds of forest greenery [hale moena¹]; the haole had tents. But the reason that the earth frequently shook was because the steam was caught in the earth, and after the earthquake, lava was seen burning to the West of Maunaloa. There were three branches of lava burning intensely from the 28th of March until the morning of Monday, the 6th of April. The earth continues to shake, and at that I conclude my writing. With gratitude.

C. J. Waialoha.

Kiao, Kau, Hawaii, April 6, 1868.

[This article from 150 years ago is one of a number written by witnesses of the earthquake and the following tsunami and volcanic eruption on Hawaii Island.

If we really want to know what C. J. Waialoha says, we cannot just look at the newspaper online. It obviously is missing a line or two. What ends on the left column makes no sense when continued by what begins on the top of the right column. When people do translations, they need to think. And if something does not make sense in what they see online, why give up there? If we claim that these accounts are important, then let us treat them as such.

The last lines of the left column should read, “…o kekahi poe, a o kekahi poe kino kupapau aohe i loaa, ua lawe aku ke kai i ko lakou mau kino. O ka loihi o kahi a ke kai i pii…”]

¹”Hale moena” possibly refers to the phrase “moena haunu ole o ka nahele,” meaning “mats of the forest without added wefts,” a poetic reference to sleeping on a bed of forest greenery.

(Kuokoa, 4/18/1868, p. 4)


Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke VII, Helu 16, Aoao 4. Aperila 18, 1868.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s