Land Use: Early Post-Contact Period

The narratives cited in the Land UseEarly Post-Contact Period category were penned by native Hawaiians, foreign visitors, and residents, and include some of the earliest accounts describing the Honouliuli vicinity following western Contact. The narratives provide an overview of

•  changes in the landscape;
•  the decreasing Hawaiian presence;
•  loss of wahi pana and noted places;
•  development of ranching and plantation business interests in the region;
•  concerns about United States control over Pearl Harbor and “Reciprocity;”
•  the changing make-up of the communities; and
•  travel on the land.

This category covers topics such as historical residency, travel, events in history, and land use for the period of 1794 to 1880.


Traditional Hawaiian Land Stewardship

In pre-western contact Hawai‘i, all ‘āina, kai lawai‘a, and natural resources extending from the mountaintops to the depths of the ocean were held in “trust” by the high chiefs—mō‘ī, ali‘i ‘ai moku, or ali‘i ‘ai ahupua‘a. The right to use plots of land, fisheries, and natural resources was given to the hoa‘āina at the prerogative of the ali‘i and their representatives or land agents, often referred to as konohiki or haku ‘aina.

Residency: Land Ownership and Access

By the time of the Māhele ‘Āina (Land Division) of 1848, which granted chiefs, native tenants, and a number of foreigners fee-simple title to land, major changes in the Hawaiian way of life—residency and subsistence practices—were occurring across the islands. Among the notable changes in Honouliuli was that the southern, ocean-facing shore of Honouliuli was all but abandoned by the native tenants. The one exception was along the inland shores of Pu‘uloa, where foreigners gained control of the land and engaged native Hawaiians as employees of newly developing businesses.

An Itinerary of the Hawaiian Islands, 1880, with a Description of the Principal Towns and Places of Interest—Developments in the ‘Ewa District and Moanalua

George Bowser, compiler and editor of The Hawaiian Kingdom Statistical and Commercial Directory and Tourists Guide [5], documented various statistics and places of interest throughout the Hawaiian Islands. The following excerpts from Bowser’s publication provide readers with descriptions of travel through the ‘Ewa District at the time. He describes the landscape, communities, and development in the region.

Commander Charles Wilkes, United States Exploring Expedition Trip Through the ‘Ewa District, 1840–1841

In the period of 1840 to 1841, Commander Charles Wilkes of the United States Exploring Expedition toured the Hawaiian Islands [34]. During the month of July 1840, Wilkes and other members of his party toured the Kona and ‘Ewa Districts on O‘ahu. Notes compiled by Wilkes from the various exploration trips provide descriptions of the ‘Ewa-Honouliuli region.

Census of O‘ahu

The table below gives the result of a census of the island taken in the year 1836. Although not strictly accurate, it probably nearly approximates the truth, being supposed by some who have the best opportunities for judging to fall somewhat short of the actual number of inhabitants. In round numbers, 30,000 is the general estimate of the population of this island at that time.

Notes of a Tour Around Oahu, 1839

In 1839, E. O. Hall and a group from the mission in Honolulu traveled around the island of O‘ahu visiting various localities. His notes from the journey were published in Volume II, No. I of the Hawaiian Spectator under the title of “Notes of a Tour around Oahu” (1839). Hall’s narratives include descriptions of places visited and changes in agricultural endeavors and living conditions, with notes from Honouliuli Ahupua‘a and neighboring lands.

For This Island, a Census of the People

The newspaper Ke Kumu Hawaii was one of the earliest missionary publications. It provided for public education various facets of Hawai‘i’s “progress” in being westernized. The paper included articles by foreign missionaries and Hawaiian leaders in the mission station. The article below, entitled “No Keia Pae Aina. No Ka Helu Ana o Kanaka,” detailed population statistics from the ‘Ewa District for 1835. The tables below, also from the article, gives population counts for the people of ‘Ewa and Wai‘anae.

With Lord Byron at the Sandwich Islands in 1825, “Trip to Pearl River”—Being Extracts from the Diary of James Macrae, Scottish Botanist

In 1824, Liholiho (King Kamehameha II), his wife Kamāmalu, and a group of retainers and foreign advisors traveled from Hawai‘i to England. Liholiho and his wife died in England and in May of 1825, their bodies were returned to Hawai‘i by Lord Byron. While in the islands, James Macrae, a botanist traveling with the Lord, traveled to various locations in the company of native guides, where he took observations and collected biological samples. One of Macrae’s journeys, along with Lord Byron and party, took him to Pu‘uloa, the Pearl River, where he described the scene: