The death of Jonah Piikoi and his autobiography, 1859.

The death of J. Piikoi.

On the 26th of April, the Honorable J. Piikoi, one of the alii of this Hawaiian archipelago died. He was a much admired man for his competence and his determination in the duties given to him. He was 55 years old, and the sickness he died of was of quick pulse [? aalele nui], and problems with his blood flow, and he died.

Before the death of Piikoi, he prepared a story of his life, from his birth until the day he wrote it, that being the 7th of April. This is it below:

The Autobiography of J. Piikoi

I was born in the month of Ikuwa, that being January, in the year of the Lord 1804.

I was born in Waimea, Kauai, and that was where I was raised until the first Liholiho landed on Kauai on the 22nd of the month of  July, 1821.

Liholiho had a great banquet in the house Puilihale with his alii who landed aboard the ship named Okikowali. And after the eating was over, Liholiho called Kaimualii [Kaumualii], “E Kaimualii e, answer! There is much vegetable poi and fish here on Kauai; the only thing missing is tobacco.” Kaimualii replied, “It is prepared.” Kaimualii called to me, “Piikoi, go to my place given to you.” I assented, “Yes.” The tobacco was lit, the tobacco box [ipupoki] was given to me along with the pipe lighter [popo welu], and I brought the tobacco before Liholiho.

Kaimualii called out, “O Chief, here is the tobacco [paka] and the man as  well.” From that  moment on, I became his pipe lighter [muki paka]. That is the first duty I was given, and that is the reason I became Liholiho’s. The ones who raised me cried. Some of my people said, “We cannot cry for he has been given to the chief.”

Liholiho made a circuit around Kauai, and I was one who went along around Kauai.

The return of Liholiho to Oahu nei was  made ready, along with Kaimualii accompanying him here to Oahu. I was ecstatic that Kaimualii was going along, and I imagined that we’d be going aboard our own ship, Kamaholelani. But no! I was thrown upon the Haaheo, on the chief’s ship, as I had been given to him. We sailed and stopped at Waianae; we stayed at Waianae. Kaimualii went to Waialua to meet with Kaahumanu; I ran away to go with him to Waialua; Kaimualii drove me off. He told me, “Go back; the chief is your parent; he is the source of your poi and fish, and your clothes, and all of your necessities; and where he says, there you go. If you live with the alii and you become poor, and wander about, and wear but a malo, do not leave.” I consented.

We went to Honolulu and we lived at Pakaka, and I lived with him, and he cared for me until he left for Britain. I did not push aside Kaimualii’s order; I carefully carried out what he told me, but it was the chief who left his man. I was not destitute and walk about when I was with him; he took good care of me.

When the chief left for Britain, Kahalaia took me as an aikane, and we were all called Huaula. I lived with Kahalaia for some time, then Kahalaia was returned to Kauai as Governor, and I went as well. Soon after Humehume revolted, that being the battle on Kauai in the month of September, 1824. After the battle, Poki took Kalaiwohi and returned to Oahu nei, and I also went back. After that Kahalaia died, that being the month of April in 1826. I lived with Kinau, after which the King [Kamehameha III] sent Kapokini and Namauu to get me. And when the two arrived, they said to me, “We came to fetch you so that we could board to go eat.” I agreed, “Okay.” We got to Pohukaina and ate at noon. The King said to me, “You belong to Liholiho, you did not come to me.” I replied, “I have come perhaps.” The alii was considerate of the man. I began to live with him and we were all called then the Hulumanu.

And some years later, the King gave me the lands of Oahu to administer. I carefully took care of them, and perhaps it was good before the eyes of the chief, and I was rewarded for it.

Thereafter, when Haalilio was preparing to go to Britain, he brought back the alii’s belongings that were entrusted to him by the alii, and the King entrusted me with the keeping of all of these things. Thereafter, the King commissioned me with a document appointing me as a noble for his Legislature, and I was allowed to live as an alii, and enjoy the benefits of living under his protection. And after that, I was appointed now to be one of his Privy Council. And following that, the King gave me an important job that was not seen before: to go before the alii and to divide their lands from the King in Haliimaile.

When I went before them with what I had to say, that all the lands will be divided of theirs, some alii opposed, saying to me, “We do not want you dividing our lands.” I said, “If you do not allow me to divide the lands for you, then there will be no lands for you from Hawaii to Kauai.” These were strong words which I spoke before the alii, but I had no hesitation, because of the great power given me by the King, from God. And I lived comfortably under his protection until he died, on the 15th of December, 1854. I did not grow weary of the alii, it was the alii who left me, the man.

Then almighty God passed the rule down to Kamehameha IV, and King Kamehameha IV has continued my alii status upon me, as I was living before; he has not taken this away, and I am blessed along with my family under his protection until this day.

May King Kamehameha IV live in God, and may God lengthen his reign.

I composed the autobiography above while in a weakened state in order for everyone to see how I have lived as an alii, and the benefits of living under the protection of the Alii, here I am, the pipe lighter.

Aloha kakou.


Honolulu, Peleula, April 7, 1859.

[Might this be the first autobiography written in Hawaiian? Has anyone seen any written before this?]

(Hae Hawaii,  5/4/1859, p. 18)


Ka Hae Hawaii, Buke 4, Ano Hou.—-Helu 5, Aoao 18. Mei 4, 1859.

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