Stonehouse, Richard Armstrong residence, 1848.

On Restoration day, 31st ult., the Rev. R. Armstrong, the King’s Minister of Public Instruction, named his new house, Continue reading

More on the sugarcane called, “pua ole,” 1858.

Pertaining to the non-flowering sugarcane.

The readers of the Hae Hawaii saw the statement of John Richardson [Ioane Richardson] pertaining to the non-flowering sugarcane of Waikapu, Maui. So that the accuracy or inaccuracy of this statement is made known to the people of Waikapu about this thing, here below is his letter speaking about their thoughts. Continue reading

A sugarcane called “puaole” in Haiku, 1858.

Waikapu, Maui, October 14, 1858.

Rev. R. Armstrong.

Aloha oe:—I received your letter of the 9th of this month pertaining to the planting of our sugarcane [ko] in Haiku.

There is this, I have here in Waikapu a sugarcane called non-flowering sugarcane [ko pua ole]; perhaps there is a half an acre of this sugarcane growing in my fields. This sugarcane does not flower at all; and I know the truth of it not flowering, in 1849, 1850, and 1851. Continue reading

J. H. Kanepuu the traditionalist, 1970.

Hawaiian Math

By Russell and Peg Apple

BY THE MID 1800s, the Hawaiian people were betwixt and between two cultures. There was the pull and the momentum of the old—the traditional Hawaiian; and the lure and exhortations of the new—a New England brand of Western.

And the Hawaiians were aware of the situation. They were not above pointing out to each other the conflicts they met in their everyday life.

One who did so was a man from Palolo, a Mr. J. H. Kanepuu. He wrote in the Hawaiian language newspaper Ke Au Okoa, and on Jan. 21, 1867, saw the need to call attention to two counting systems that existed side by side.

KANEPUU NOTED the conflict in the markets where Hawaiians bought and sold. There was a generation gap in methods of enumeration. Most of the fishermen and farmers who sold in the markets were old men who counted by the Hawaiian method. Those who bought were younger folks who counted by the haole system. Few knew both well.

The momentum and practices of the past fixed the habit patterns of the fishermen who caught flying fish, mullet, mackerel and milkfish for the Honolulu markets. They either sold their catch themselves, or it was sold by family members of the same generation. They counted Hawaiian style.

Those who bought counted haole style. They had been to the mission and public schools. They knew how to count by tens, from one on up into the tens of thousands. Each had ten fingers, including thumbs, to help.

BUT THE Hawaiian system was based on the numeral four, not the decimal system. Hawaiians had four fingers on each hand to help in counting.

Both the old timers and the younger Hawaiians spoke Hawaiian fluently. But the haole terms had been translated into Hawaiian and taught to the people who went to school, along with the counting-by-tens method. It was the same sort of confusion which occurs today when a nation switches from pounds-shillings-and-pence to a coinage based on the decimal system. Or when a student who learned his work in inches, feet, yards and miles tries to deal with millimeters, centimeters, meters kilometers. Misunderstandings and confusion result.

LOT KAMEHAMEHA, later to rule as Kamehameha V, was educated by Christian missionaries and was versed in the Western system. Kanepuu wrote that when he was still Prince Lot, he received a gift of fish at his house in Honolulu. This was sometime in the early 1800s, before Lot Kamehameha was crowned.

The men who brought the fish used the old system, the Prince only understood the new.

“How much fish?” asked the prince.

“One lau and nine kaau,” answered the Hawaiian servant who delivered the fish, a gift from chief Kuhia.

THIS ANSWER distressed Lot Kamehameha and he alsmost became angry. On seeing this, the Hawaiian switched to the new system. Continue reading

On ohelo papa, 1856.

Ohelo papa: Some baskets of Ohelo papa were obtained by Armstrong [Limaikaika] from Makawao; L. L. Torburt [Torbert] sent them over; and they were marvelous. Some ohelo papa was sent earlier to the yearly exhibition of the Agricultural Society [Ahahui Mahiai], and the haole purchased them. This is something greatly desired by the haole; they buy ohelo papa in great amounts if it arrives. This is the problem, that it takes long, and most of it ripens at sea. But it doesn’t get too over ripe.

(Hae Hawaii, 8/13/1856, p. 96)


Ka Hae Hawaii, Buke I, Helu 24, Aoao 96. Augate 13, 1856.

Waialua news, 1841.


I was at Waialua today (Sep. 9.) and came back. I measured the border of the ‘farming school’ there, however the acreage is not currently calculated. The school there is good; there are 16 students and they are happy with the work and the school. They farm with cows and digging sticks [oo]; they weed the sugarcane, plant corn, plant beans, watch over the calves in the fields, irrigate, build houses, and other work, and they are greatly prepared with activities that are enlightened and knowledgeable. I saw the corn, and it is very fine, and so too of the beans. I looked over the land, and I thought of the land farmed in America; they are almost the same, and aloha for my land welled up in me.

The foundation of the new church in Waialua are filled in with stone; here are its dimensions: 87 feet long and 48 feet wide. The completion of the church will perhaps go quickly, because the lumber and the coral are piled up, and the adobe [pohaku] are soon to come. However, this all depends on the vigor and the patience of the brethren who are working on it. O Brethren of Waialua, be strong, don’t be hesitant and uncertain and lazy, but be courageous and your church will be complete in no time.

The congregation on Sunday at Waialua is now a little bigger; the great apathy  of that area has been warded off, and some have regained their faith in the word of God.

It is said that there is much apathy amongst the brethren in Ewa. This is true in Honolulu as well; the churches are filled on Sunday, but the hearts of the brethren are not filled with the spirit of God. There is much sleeping, leisure, and true skepticism. Alas, we are living with apathy in Zion! O Let us awaken once more, trim our lamps, and be vigilant, lest the bridegroom arrive at once and we will be alarmed.¹


¹Referencing the parable of the ten virgins found in Matthew 25.

[Today was Liliuokalani Church’s Annual Luau! Mahalo to KK for thinking of me with a delivery, everything was ono!!]

(Nonanona, 9/14/1841, p. 23.)


Ka Nonanona, Buke 1, Pepa 6, Aoao 23. Sepatemaba 14, 1841.