Mai Poina: Lost to History – Part 2

#115 in the Moʻolelo series, I bring out a few more “lost” figures of Hawaiian history – but “lost” is relative – some will know these and some won’t.

  1. Joseph Hoʻonaʻauao Kanepuʻu

Noenoe Silva’s book Power of the Steel-Tipped Pen brought some attention to a previously unknown but prolific writer from the Hawaiian language newspapers, Joseph Kanepuʻu. As I wrote in my review of her book in Ka Wai Ola:

Using what Silva terms “mo‘oku‘auhau consciousness,” Kanepu‘u had the astounding insight that “generations of Hawaiians in 1870, 1880, 1890 and 1990 are going to want [these mo’olelo and mele].” Kanepu‘u was looking ahead specifically to our time! 

ʻUmi Perkins, “Review of The Power of the Steel-Tipped Pen: Reconstructing Native Hawaiian Intellectual History by Noenoe K. Silva,” Ka Wai Ola, 2019.

Silva also examined the work of Joseph Mokuohai Poepoe, but he is relatively well-known by comparison to Kanepuʻu. In a kind of cautionary tale, Kanepuʻu was criticized by contemporaries for inaccuracies, and he completely stopped writing – prematurely it seems. We lost this Hawaiian perspective because a few of his readers could not stand a different view of “these moʻolelo and mele.” Kamakau was similarly and harshly critiqued by John Papa Iʻi – imagine if he had stopped writing! We would have lost the main voice of the mid-ninteenth century.

2. Lilia Aholo

A central figure in gathering the Kūʻē petitions against annexation, Aholo is not completely unknown, but I think underappreciated. She was the hānai daughter of Liliʻuokalani and the first Hawaiian language teacher at Kamehameha. A pioneering figure in early twentieth century Hawaiʻi – a perilous time for Hawaiians who supported the monarchy. She is listed on the executive committees of the Kaʻahumanu Society in 1912 as head of the sick committee and of the Women’s Hui Aloha Aina (Women’s Patriotic League) in 1893 (nupepa.org).

3. John L. Kaulukou

nupepa.org (Brian Kamaoli Kuwada’s incredibly useful blog of translations of Hawaiian newspapers – also on WordPress!) relates highlights of Kaulukou’s life. A Lahainluna graduate, diplomat and confidante of Kalākaua, he accompanied the king to Japan and the US:

In 1877, he was appointed as district judge for Koolau Poko, and in 1880, he was voted as a member of the legislature from the district of Koolau Poko and so too in 188…

In this year, King Kalakaua appointed Judge Kaulukou as the secretary for J. A. Kapena, the minister to Japana, and he spent four months living in Japan and one month in San Francisco.

In the year 1884, he was appointed as sheriff for the island of Hawaii, and two years later, he was again voted as a member of the legislature from the district of Hilo, Hawaii, and a short while after the election, he was ordered by King Kalakaua to take the position of post master for here in Honolulu.

nupepa.org
John Lot Kaulukou

I should mention here that it seems Kaulukou supported annexation – Thurston Twigg-Smith goes on ad nauseam for four pages about him since he was the only Hawaiian in favor of annexation that Twigg-Smith could find! I have to look more closely at this, but to do that Iʻd have to go through Twigg-Smith’s horrible book (most people, including haole were saying the same thing about the book when it came out) Hawaiian Sovereignty: Do the Facts Matter? which Iʻm loath to do. I discussed this in my post “Three Hawaiians in Favor of Annexation.” Jonathan K. Osorio notes that Kaulukou ended up stating that annexation was “the best thing that could happen for Hawaii” – he remains a fascinating historical character, who shows that despite near-unanimous opposition to annexation, there was some diversity of views on this pivotal event.

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