Polynesians and Tahitians first came to Hawaii around 1700 year ago. Many more Tahitian immigrants came to Hawaii in the 14th and 15th centuries. The Tahitian conquered the Polynesians who had been living here in Hawaii for about a thousand years. Bummer for them. Hawaii became a very complex society complete with kings and civil wars, and for many years existed in almost total isolation from the world.
The first formal government that we know of is the Kapu system of government. The islands had local chiefs called Alii, who ruled small areas of the islands. There was constant war, as these Alii were always trying to take over each other’s lands. Under Kapu only Alii could run the land, and nobody really owned it. They believed that no one owned the land, and the land was divided into ahupuaa, pie shaped sections that extended from the top of the mountains down the valleys to the outer edge of the reef in the sea. The Alii ran the land and granted the people living in the land use of the land’s resources.
European explorers suggest Hawaii had foreign visitors well before the 1778 arrival of the famous Captain Cook. Yes he was real. People think he was just some fairy tale guy, but no, he was very real and he was instrumental in Hawaii’s modernization.
Historians credit Captain Cook, not to be confused with Captain Crunch, with the discovery of Hawaii since he was the first to publish the coordinates of the Hawaiian Islands on a map. Cook named Hawaii the Sandwich Islands in honor of one of his sponsors, John Montagu, who really like a nice ham sandwich. Yes he invented sandwiches
The Hawaiian Kapu System of law was challenged when foreigners began to arrive in Hawaii.
A United Hawaiian kingdom and the fall of Kapu
The Hawaiian Islands were united as one kingdom for the first time ever under King Kamehameha the Great. According to legend, there was a bright star in the sky when he was born, which may have been Halley’s Comet, visible in 1758. Kamehameha became chief of the northern half of the Big island of Hawaii. Eventually he brought the entire island under his reign. The other Hawaiian islands were controlled by other kings, but Kamehameha conquered and united them, becoming ruler of all the islands by 1810.
King Kamehameha was accepting of foreigners and their modern innovations, such as guns and nails. During his reign Hawaii became an important center of trade. While some people think pineapples are endemic to Hawaii, they were brought to Hawaii from Spain in 1813. Also, coffee was first planted in Hawaii in 1818, the year before Kamehameha I died. Believe it or not, macadamia nut trees weren’t introduced to Hawaii until 1892.
The Monarchy years span the period of time between the unification of all the islands in 1810 and the overthrow of the Hawaiian government in 1893. During this period, Hawaii would be transformed from a Kapu system society into an independent constitutional monarchy, recognized by other nations around the world.
In 1819, King Kamehameha II ended the Kapu system. To symbolize this, Kamehameha ate with women, breaking the important eating Kapu. Soon after, the sacred heiau were destroyed and the images of the Hawaiian gods were burned. The Kapu system rapidly unraveled.
King Kamehameha died on December 11, 1872 without an heir. He was the last king of the Kamehameha dynasty. The Hawaiian legislature chose a new monarch, Prince William Lunalilo, a descendant of Kamehameha I. After a year as king he died of consumption, leaving his estate to needy Hawaiians. Some believe that he was poisoned because of his concern for the native Hawaiians.
Once again the Hawaiian legislature chose a new monarch, and Queen Emma was considered, but David Kalakaua was chosen instead. He was of royal blood, a descendent of Kamehameha the Great. He was well-educated and equally at home with Hawaiians and foreigners.
Businessmen rendered the monarchy powerless by enacting the Bayonet Constitution, which took away the king’s administrative authorities, eliminated voting rights for all Asians (what!?) and required specific income and property requirements for all European and native Hawaiian voters. This basically limited the electorate to rich Hawaiians and Europeans.
King Kalakaua reigned until he died in 1891, when his sister, Princess Liliuokalani succeeded him and ruled until she was dethroned in 1893 in a coup by local businessmen and government officials. The governance was passed, to an independent Republic of Hawaii.
On July 7, 1898, Hawaii was annexed as a United States territory. Hawaii remained a territory for sixty years, although many wanted statehood. Plantation owners, like Dole, liked territorial status, because it let them continue to use cheap Asian labor, and such immigration would have been prohibited as a state.
Hawaii was run by the power of the plantation owners for years until it was finally broken by activist laborers who were legal U.S. citizens. Expecting full voting rights, they campaigned for statehood for Hawaii, until March 1959, when Congress passed the Admission Act and President Eisenhower signed it. The statehood that Hawaii had longed for was now in sight.
On June 27 of 1959, residents of Hawaii voted on accepting the statehood bill, which easily passed. Hawaii was now the 50th state of the Union. Flag makers everywhere were rejoicing.
A Hawaiian state
Hawaii became a modern state with a huge construction boom and growing economy that wasn’t just tourism. The Hawaii Republican Party, which was mostly plantation owners, was voted out of office, and in its place, the Democratic Party of Hawaii has dominated state politics ever since.
Recently the state has worked toward restoring native Hawaiian culture and giving back to those Hawaiian families that were hurt by plantation owners and foreign businessmen. Hawaii is the only state that was once a monarchy, and it has the only real royal palaces in the United States. King David Kalakaua was the last king of Hawaii, and his sister, Queen Liliuokalani, was the last queen.
Christian Missionaries – the most powerful influence on Hawaii?
The first Christian missionaries came to Hawaii just after King Kamehameha died, and the Kapu system had just ended, so missionaries found the Hawaiians living in a cultural void and receptive to the ideas embodied in Protestant Christianity.
To aid in converting a society with an oral tradition to Christianity, the missionaries began translating the Bible and started printing other important books for Hawaiians to read. In less than 20 years, the missionaries established a western protestant school system, and Queen Kaahumanu converted.
Back then Hawaiians wore little clothing, so the missionaries convinced the queen to adopt a loose, cool version of a Victorian gown, called the holoku. The missionaries developed a Hawaiian alphabet of 12 letters, and made some changes. King Kamehameha III became a Christian and banned traditional Hawaiian beliefs and practices, such as hula, because it had a lot to do with their religion. Today it’s just a pretty dance that can often be used in Christian worship.
Hawaii was a center of the international whaling industry, long before anybody knew that they were going to kill way too many whales. Sugar cane production began in Hawaii in 1835, and was important to the Hawaiian economy when whaling declined. Eventually Hawaii would become an important economic center of trade in the Pacific, with all kinds of goods coming and going between Asia and the United States.
Alexander, who reigned under the name Kamehameha IV tried to slow the influence of Christian missionaries. Europeans were bringing diseases that were taking a toll on native Hawaiians. By 1920, pure Hawaiians numbered only 23,723 and their life expectancy was only 35 years! There were a million native Hawaiians in 1900, and in 1990 there were 138,000. Because so many Hawaiians were dying and others objected to working on plantations, workers came to Hawaii from Asian countries like Japan and China, which is why Hawaii has such a diverse Asian population today.
In 1874 Kalakaua negotiated a trade treaty with the US, and Hawaiian sugar brought tons of American money into Hawaii.
How powerful were the landowners in Hawaii? In 1894 the Republic of Hawaii was established with Sanford Dole, yes the pineapple guy, as its president.
Interest in Hawaiian language and culture was revived in the last 50 years. Schools in Hawaii began teaching Hawaiian language and history. With the help of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, created by the 1978 constitutional convention, Hawaiian language immersion schools were established where students would be taught using only Hawaiian.
Today, the number of pure Hawaiians could be as low as 5,000. However the part Hawaiian population is over 230,000.
On any given day, the temperature of Hawaii, especially Oahu, is about 75-85 degrees. Typical of a tropical island, winter is around 70 in the daytime and 60 at night. Therefore, Hawaii is famous for being warm throughout the whole year; in summer, the temperature could reach 90 deg (F) plus humidity, but hey we have the beach nearby to keep us cool.
Some people who live here in Oahu complain about the heat in summer, mostly people on the west side (it’s hotter!,) tourists love the warm weather especially people from cold climates. Hawaii is really popular as a tourist destination in the winter, when temperatures can be about 70 degrees with nice sunny days.
However, Oahu sees the most visitors in the summer when school is out, because it doesn’t get nearly as hot as most of the mainland. About 90% of the time Hawaii has north easterly trade winds that keep us nice and cool. When the trades stop blowing, we get southerly Kona winds which are hot and muggy. When those blow, look out, it’s hot! Mostly it’s the still humid air, because the temperature doesn’t get over 90 anyway on most of Oahu.
Weather is pretty consistent in all 7 of the major Hawaiian Islands, Hawaii, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau. There are minor changes in temperature throughout the year, and some areas are always hotter than the rest. For instance, there are parts of the big island that almost never get above 80, like Volcano (a city), and other parts like Kona that can get up to 95deg in the summer.
However, most of Oahu is relatively similar, at around 85 in the summer and 70 in the winter. Our consistent weather in Oahu is due to the warm sea temperatures of about 75-85deg, which keep the air warm as well. In case you’re wondering, we are above the equator by quite a bit. We’re about the same latitude as Mexico City, we’re just way prettier!
Hawaii really has 2 seasons: the warm (or hot) summer months from about May to October, and the cooler (less hot) winter months from November to about April. However, don’t think this is always true. Sometimes we’ll have Kona winds in December and January and it can feel hotter than any day in the summer. The average summer temperature is about 85 degrees F, but if you take a hike up the Pali (or drive) then it will be 20 deg cooler. That’s right, from sea level to up on the mountains there is a huge difference. In Oahu the average winter temperature is 75 degrees. Night time temperatures are maybe 10 degrees lower. We residents get cold under 80 and we put on sweaters around 70. Seriously. I don’t know how it happens, but as you live here you develop a weakness toward cold. When I surf in the 80 degree water, sometimes I get cold if the wind is blowing. It’s comical.
The Hawaiian islands are a collection of several micro-climates, each area having its own unique weather. You can be driving on the south side of Oahu where it will be sunny and 80, and then you make a single turn around to the east side of the island, and suddenly as you come around Makapuu, it’s cold, rainy, windy, and there are dark storm clouds that won’t come to the south side. It’s due to our giant mountain ranges. If you live on one side, you get rained on everyday. If you live on the leeward side of the same mountain, maybe 1/2 a mile away, you never see a drop of rain. It’s wacky. Sometimes when I drive from Hawaii Kai to Kailua, I wish I had a jacket because I forget that the weather could be totally different and I find that it’s pouring rain and freezing over there. In fact when I’ve driving to Kailua from my house, which is 12 miles, I often call a friend to find out how cold it is. They’ll say, “It’s freezing and raining!” Which means it’s 70 and there is some wind. Hilarious aren’t we!?
Rainfall and Storms
It rains in Hawaii. Oahu is a tropical island with tropical rain forests, which need plenty of rain. Although sometimes when you’re driving around Kapolei or Ewa Beach, you feel like it’s a desert. You know what, it is a desert on that side! Hawaii usually has high-pressure systems in the north Pacific that pump cool, trade winds with clouds full of rain over the Oahu’s eastern sides (windward sides.) For most of the summer and more than half the winter we get these great cool trade winds, but when the Kona winds hit, which can happen anytime of the year, it feels like a sauna.
So while the east and north sides are tropical and cool, the west and south sides are dry and hot. Hawaii Kai is right in the middle of the two, so it’s cool, but dry. Perfect!
Most of the rain falls in the mountains and valleys on the windward (northeastern) side of the islands. Our eclectic weather in Hawaii creates the perfect environment for Hawaii’s rich tropical flowers and deep green forests. The wet months are from November through March, but it doesn’t usually rain so much that it would ruin your vacation, since rains often last for about 10 minutes. If you don’t like the rain, just wait 10 minutes, or drive around the island, because there is probably some sun around the coast.
The dominant trade winds in Hawaii usually provide a nice cool breezy feel. The speed of these winds often builds throughout the day as the heat from the sun rises and the winds often peak in the late afternoon. Sometimes they blow all day and night, and sometimes they stop late in the evening.
Water and Surf Conditions
The water temps in Hawaii are usually great all year, around 80degrees. However, a lot of how warm it feels depends on weather the sun is out or not, and also what you’re doing. Really! If you’re swimming hard, the water might feel hot. If you’re just wading, it might feel cold. If you’re kayaking, it will feel refreshingly cool. If you are diving, it might feel freezing! If the sun is out and the wind isn’t blowing, the water will feel awesome.
The other thing is, the water can be different temperatures at different parts of the island. There are some spots on the Big Island where the water is about 60 degrees. I put my feet in there and it felt like ice! Then we drove an hour to Kona and the water was 80 again. Wacky!
Unless you know nothing about surfing, you know that the waves change dramatically from winter to summer, and from coast to coast. In the Summer, the south shore gets great waves up to 10 foot faces, with warm waters and great trade winds usually. In the winter, the north and west shores get huge 30-40 foot face waves from storms way up in the North Pacific send us giant swells. If you try to swim when there is big surf, you are going to die. You deserve it if you are stupid enough to go swimming when there is 30ft surf. Every year a few tourists drown because they were swimming in areas where the waves were too rough for them. Don’t become one of them.
Wave are different at every beach and every reef, so if there is too little or too much surf where you are, you can find something you like just a few minutes away. Some beaches, like Bellows in Waimanalo never have surf no matter what, and others, like Ala Moana, almost always have at least some surf.
Hawaii’s Mountains and Volcanoes
Thousands of tourists come each year to see the amazing views from our mountains in Oahu, Maui, Kauai, or Kilauea on the Big Island. One thing people don’t realize is that it’s freezing cold up there! So bring pants and a couple extra layers of clothing because the temperature up there drops about 20 degrees.
Also, you better bring some sun block, because the sun will toast you up there. For some reason it’s much easier to get burned, even though it’s like 50 degrees. There aren’t any active volcanoes on Oahu, but we do have some great mountain peaks, and the Pali lookout is a favorite for tourists. It’s cold and windy up there but the view of the east side of Oahu is incredible. You can see Kaneohe and Kailua and the ocean for miles.
Hawaii is the only US state that is an island. There are 7 main islands, but 19 total islands and atolls make up the Hawaiian Archipelago. These 7 islands are Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, L?nai, Maui and the Island of Hawaii. Kahoolawe is uninhabited and it’s tiny, and nobody is allowed to go there, so I don’t count it.
The Hawaiian Islands were probably formed by volcanoes rising out of the ocean. Only volcanoes on the southern half of the Island of Hawaii are active today, and the last eruption outside the Big Island of Hawaii happened at Haleakal? on Maui over 100 years ago.
Since the Hawaiian Islands are alone in the middle of the Pacific Ocean we have a wide variety of plants and animals that are endemic to our islands, along with a whole bunch of other plants and animals that have migrated here with travelers and tourists. The first several people to visit Hawaii brought a bunch of horrible disease and other things with them, and some of the good stuff, like palm trees, is still here. Yes, Palm Trees are not endemic to Hawaii! Hawaiian culture declined with the dramatic decline in the population of native Hawaiians because of the European diseases.
Did you know that Mount Waialeale is the wettest place on earth? It averages 460 inches of rain a year. Honolulu was the city one chosen by King Kamehameha III to be the capital city of his kingdom. He said he chose it because of the natural harbor there, which could be used for trade.
Hawaii is the only state in America with a single state run school system, which partially explains why the school system sucks even though a lot of individual schools are great . Yes, our dept of education sucks even though the schools individually can be great. In fact Koko head school in Hawaii Kai is a fantastic school. I’m not saying that any one school is bad, or that the schools are bad. I’m saying that our dept of education is bad. They are horrible, evil, and more than anything, stupid. Just ask any teacher.
Now – to clarify, if you find a good school in Hawaii, your kids will be fine. I usually recommend that people get the test scores and compare all the schools here in Oahu. There are many resources, including the Honolulu Magazine annual school review, which I would be glad to email you. Recently, it seems like the top schools in Oahu are in Mililani, Hawaii Kai, Aina Haina and a few others scattered about. Also, there is a brand new school at Ocean Pointe in Ewa Beach, which is apparently very good.
To prove to you that I’m not against public schools, I should tell you that my son is going to Aina Haina public elementary, one of the best schools in Hawaii. We love it. So I don’t want to scare you into not using the public school system. I just want to scare you enough to be very selective about where you live and where you kids go to school.
The Hawaii Dept of education, or DOE, is the oldest public education system west of the Mississippi, which doesn’t help. That’s nothing to boast about. It just means the policies are archaic and there is hidden power and there are people who work there that shouldn’t. We should scrap the whole thing and start over.
Hawaii DOE decisions are made by a 14 member state Board of Education committee, which is part of the problem. The Board of Education sets all the statewide educational policy and hires a state superintendent of schools, who makes sure that nothing can be done easily or quickly. The role of the Board and the superintendent is basically to waste time and money so that our kids grow up stupid, so that everyone thinks the Board needs more money and resources. The worse they do, the more resources they get. It’s the ultimate catch 22.
The structure of the state Department of Education has been a subject of huge controversy in recent years, mainly because the structure was apparently crafted by some monkeys locked in a room with a bottle of rum.
Governor Lingle has recently begun some policy initiatives toward decentralization, as she is a proponent of replacing the current statewide board with seven elected district boards. Governor Lingle is the first non stupid person that has done anything for our education. The Democrats control our state legislature and opposed her efforts, primarily because they want our kids to be stupid so that more money will be pumped into the system.
Primary and Secondary Schools
Hawaii has more private secondary education than any other state in the United States. Our big private schools are Mid-Pacific Institute, Iolani, Kamehameha and Punahou School. Some other great private schools are: Hawaii Baptist Academy, (usually called HBA) Hawaii Preparatory Academy, Maryknoll School (Catholic), St. Andrew’s Priory, and Saint Louis School.
We have a ton of charter schools in Hawaii, and if you can get in one, your child will probably be better off. The charter schools started basically to avoid the red tape of the Board of Ed and the Dept of Ed, because again, they suck.
Charter schools act like private schools in some ways, and they select their students, while the regular public schools take all the students in their district, no matter what.
Colleges and Universities
Everyone has heard of University of Hawaii right? UH? UH has campuses in Manoa , Hilo, and West Oahu. We also have private schools in Hawaii like Brigham Young (Mormon), Chaminade University (Catholic), Hawaii Pacific University (Christian) and University of the Nations (Christian I think). Also there is The Saint Stephen Diocesan Center, a Catholic seminary. For a while there was a Christian seminary but I think they are shutting down. Apparently somebody in charge wants to move it to another island, probably because he is lame.
If you live in Hawaii, you better learn some Pidgin. No it’s not Pigeon like the bird. Originally considered a dialect of Hawaiian English, anthropologists now say that Pidgin is a distinct language. Pidgin started in Hawaii’s plantations as Asian laborers from different Asian cultures found their own ways of communicating. Laborer emigrants began making their own words and phrases which merged with Hawaiian and English.
There are some great books on Pidgin which will teach you how to use some words. In Hawaii we use certain Pidgin words and certain Hawaiian words interspersed with our English, and that’s just how we communicate so get used to it. You better learn what your Okole (butt) is, and you better remember that Mauka means mountains and Makai means ocean, because people are going to use those words to give you directions.
When you live in Hawaii, you’re going to hear Hawaiian words, so you might as well start learning them. Here are some commonly used Hawaiian words, which I actually use in my daily conversations:
|Akamai: smart, clever.
Alii: a Hawaiian chief, Hawaiian royalty.
Aloha: Hello, goodbye, love, affection, kindness.
Hale: a house.
Haole: white person or any foreigner or newcomer to Hawaii.
Hapa: a half Japanese person, like my kids.
Heiau: an ancient Hawaiian temple.
Hele: to go, come, leave. As in, “I’m going to Hele (leave) now”
Hui: a group, club.
Hula: the dance of Hawaiians.
Kahu: a pastor, priest.
Kahuna: a priest, doctor, a trained person of old Hawaii
Kai: the sea, ocean.
Kamaaina: people who were born in Hawaii or have lived in Hawaii for a long time.
Kane: a man.
Kapu: taboo, prohibited.
Kapuna: grandparent, elder.
Keiki: a child.
Kokua: help, assistance.
Kuleana: responsibility, concern.
|Lanai: a porch, balcony.
Lani: heaven, heavenly.
Lei: a necklace of flowers.
Lokahi: unity, agreement, harmony.
Luau: Hawaiian feast.
Mahalo: thank you.
Mahalo nui loa: thank you very much.
Makai: toward the ocean.
Mauka: toward the mountains.
Menehune: we use it now to mean young people.
Pali: a cliff, precipice.
Paniolo: a Hawaiian cowboy (seriously).
Pau: finished, done.
Puka: a hole.
Pupu: appetizers, small dish food.
Wahine: a female, a woman, a wife.
Wikiwiki: to hurry, hurry up.
Modern Hawaii Real Estate
Modern Hawaii Real Estate ownership goes back to the Great Mahele (land division) of 1848, which allowed private land ownership for the first time, ending the old land system. The new laws gave Hawaii land to the Crown, the government, the Alii and konohiki (headmen). The Kuleana Act of 1850 permitted land ownership by commoners, and this is where we are today.
Aloha aina means “love the land.” It is the respect we have for Hawaii and the care we should take to protect the Islands. Aina means “land”.