#69 in the Moʻolelo series
n. A secret society formed or revived by King Ka-lā-kaua for the study of the ancient Hawaiian religion and manner of living. Hale nauā, a place where genealogy was scanned to see whether applicants were related to the high chief and therefore eligible to become members of the royal household. Emerson says nauā was the word of challenge addressed to those applying for admission.Hawaiian Dictionary
Malo describes the original Hale Nauā as the place where the Royal court, or ʻaha aliʻi, was chosen:
When any one presented himself for admission to the Hale Naua, or king’s house, the guards called out “here comes So-and-so about to enter.” Thereupon the company within called out, “From whom are you descended, Mr. So-and-so Naua? Who was your father Naua? Who was your father Naua?” To this the man made answer, “I am descended from So-and-so; such and such a one is mv father.” The question was then put to the man, “Who was your father’s father, Naua?” … Thus they continued to question him until they reached in their inquiry the man’s tenth ancestor. If the genealogists who were sitting with the king recognized a suitable relationship to exist between the ancestry of the candidate and that of the king he was approved of.Malo 191–2, Emerson note 199–200.
Kalākaua’s Hale Nauā had a more global purpose. It was a “syncretic” society in line with Kalākaua’s view of blending the best of Hawaiian and Euroamerican cultures. Hale Nauā II was a Hawaiian scientific society that published articles in peer-reviewed academic journals – to good reviews. But it was more than this; it was a way of showing that Hawaiian thought was, in a sense, scientific, and that Hawaiian culture was world-class.
In its “notes and queries” section, The Hawaiian Journal of History noted:
Other sections of Hale Nauā II examined topics like Astrology and divination. (The “occult sciences” were very prominent in the nineteenth century, as evidenced by the popularity of people like Madame Blavatsky and her Theosophical Society. This was perhaps a reaction to the rise of science and its accompanying atheistic orientation). This section of Hale Nauā held its meetings in secret (Notes and Queries, Hawaiian Journal of History).
It is interesting to speculate about what exactly the difference was between the goals of Hale Nauā II and the numerous Royal Orders founded or joined by Kalākaua. Like the Royal Orders, Hale Nauā was seen as a threat by the usurping government after the overthrow and so was disbanded. Rocky Jensen created Hale Nauā III in the 20th century.