THE HANA HOU SERIES
Wahine o Hawai`i
© 1999 Kawika Sands
Kinau, Kamamalu, Kapiolani
Missionaries and Mu`umu`u:
They also had a major crisis in womens' fashion. Suddenly, the lusty, brown-skinned wahine (barefoot and breasts in the breeze) were taking instructions from sour-faced New England matrons in black Mother Hubbard dresses (which erased everything from the ears down), which suited a climate that was much more frigid than Hawai`i in every way. Although the holoku (see previous installment) remained and is still popular today for the more formal occasions, some amount of compromise was needed. So, the natives made some good-natured changes, and the mu`umu`u was born. Colorful, cool, and light, it modestly suited tropical life. The adaptable, one-size-fits-all design was a hit, since Hawaiian women come in ALL shapes and sizes.
Christian missionaries developed the Hawaiian alphabet and therefor created a WRITTEN Hawaiian language, but because they were not linguists, they too made some changes. To them, for example, "T" sounded like "K" and "R" sounded like "L." So, the name "Tamehameha" sounded like "Kamehameha" and "Honoruru" sounded like "Honolulu."
By 1822, there were 60 whaling ships in Hawaiian waters and the diseases that came with them decimated the Hawaiian population from nearly a half million (estimates vary from about 300,000 to over 400,000), to less than 230,000.
KINAU (? - 1839)
Kinau and Kauikeaouli argued over how best to rule. Kinau favored the missionary ways and was no more tolerant of other religions than Kaahumanu and strengthened the land tenure laws by written and official proclamation. Kauikeaouli resented the lessened power of the king who no longer had sole power or could give and take land at will. He wanted the old ways for his people. Eventually they resolved their differences and formed a new government. Now there was a King, a Kuhina Nui, and a Counsel of Chiefs.
VICTORIA KAMAMALU (1838 - 1866)
In 1823, five years after taking his throne, Kamehameha II (Liholio) and Queen Kamamalu set sail for London, England aboard the English whale ship L'Aigle on November 27. Everyone in his party came down with measles, for which the Hawaiians had no immunity. Liholio's favorite wife, Queen Kamamalu, died in London on July 8, 1824. Heartbroken, Liholio also died on July 14. Their bodies were returned to Hawai`i for burial, and Liholio's ten-year old brother Kauikeaouli became Kamehameha III. She died at only 28 but some loyal Hawaiians walked as much as 50 miles to pay their last respects. Mark Twain was in attendance but was decidedly unsympathetic and denounced the grief of the misunderstood Hawaiian as "pagan orgies."
CHIEFESS KAPIOLANI (? - 1841)
Her conversion to Christianity was not enough to persuade her people to turn from Pele. Particularly those of the Puna and Ka`u districts for they were close to Kilauea which was frequented with volcanic activity. Pele, though only a demi-god, was perhaps the most visible and most feared of the Hawaiian gods. But her defiance of Pele came from a love for Christianity and she knew if her people were ever to see the light, she would have to break Pele's spell over them.
In December of 1824, Chiefess Kapiolani journeyed from Kona to defy Pele outright and openly. Her family, friends, and attendants all begged her to stop. She said "If I am destroyed by Pele, you may worship her. If I am not, you must turn to the only true God."
When she arrived she walked to the brink of the crater while one of the
priestesses of Pele warned her. Ignoring the priestess, she went down into
the crater. To emphasize her defiance, she ate ohelo berries (sacred to
Pele), and threw stones at the volcano and shouted "I do not fear Pele...."
She survived of course and her act was memorialized by Tennyson in "The
Friend" in April, 1893, with a poem which ended:
... None but the terrible Pele remaining,
Some time later, Chiefess Kapiolani was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctor stated her entire right breast had to be removed. With friends and attendants looking on, the operation was performed WITHOUT anesthetic. Witnesses stated this courageous woman bore the entire ordeal with unbelievable dignity.
Hele on to Canoe Club News
Last Modified: Saturday - 19991113.15:22 EST
Copyright © 1999 Kawika Sands
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