Honouliuli: Historical Residency, Travel, Events in History, and Land Use, 1794–1880

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.

Related Maps

Related Documents

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.

Census of Oahu, 1836
Honolulu and Waikiki 12,994
Ewa 3,423
Waianae 1,654
Waialua 2,415
Koolauloa 2,681
Palikoolau 4,631
Total 27,789

SourceHawaiian Spectator, 1839:112.

In 1793–1794, Archibald Menzies visited Hawaii with Captain James Vancouver, during which time Menzies and crew members frequently traveled with native guides to botanize and take readings of the topography at various places in the islands. Menzies described the scenery on the land while sailing between Honolulu and Puuloa (Pearl Harbor):

Vancouver Examines But Does Not Enter Honolulu Harbor

March 23d Early in the forenoon of the 23d, we got under way, but the wind being westerly, we made but very little progress against it. In the evening observing an apparent inlet (The harbor of Kou, now known as Honolulu. Capt. Brown of the Jackal, and Capt. Gordon of the Prince Lee boo, entered Honolulu Harbor for the first time on November 21, 1794. Capt. Brown called it Fairhaven.) in the western side of the bay, we came to an anchor before the entrance to it, and being informed while on the north-west coast of America by the masters of some of the trading vessels that a small snug harbor was situated in this side of the bay, boats were sent out early next morning to examine the passage in, but they found it so guarded by a reef a little distance from the shore that there was no access even for vessels of small draught of water.

Entrance To Pearl Harbor Noticed

The appearance of another opening was seen a little to the northward of this one (Wai Momi, or Pearl Harbor, now an important U. S. Naval Station. “The Key of the Pacific.”), whose entrance might perhaps be more favorable, but the boats had not time to examine it, and when they came alongside, and were hoisted in, we in the evening got under weigh again and with a light breeze went round the west point of the bay, which is also the south point of the island.

March 24th Next day being under the high land of the south-west part of the island, we had it mostly calm, with intervals of light fluctuating airs, with which we kept moving slowly along the shore of the island, which here trended northwestward. Off this point of the island, we had very uneven soundings, sometimes no ground with a hundred and ten fathoms of line pretty near the shore; at other times we had suddenly shoal water, so as to oblige us to stand off. [23:125–126]

In addition to naming traditional residents and noted places of Honouliuli, the records of the Mahele Aina also provide us with important information on residency, land use practices, physical features—today’s cultural sites, and some of the plants or resources which were tended as food crops by the people who lived on the land. While there do not appear to be any direct references to lands now within the boundaries of the Haseko Development or for the cultural resources which are under the stewardship of the Hoakalei Cultural Foundation, there are important descriptions of agricultural practices in neighboring coastal lands and similar environments. The descriptions help us form an image of how people lived on the land, and actually provide us with a template for interpretation of some resources in the three preservation areas.

On December 13, 1847, Nahuawai, a native tenant of Puuloa, Honouliuli, wrote a description of agricultural practices and features he claimed at Keahi, in the ili of Puuloa, near the Pearl Harbor entrance. The record, in Hawaiian, states

I ka poe hanohano na Luna Hoona Kumu Kuleana aina o ko Hawaii nei pae aina. Aloha oukou. Ke hai aku nei au ia oukou i ko‘u kuleana hale, a kula hui. Me keia ka hui ana, aole i ike pono ia ke kuauna elike me ka loi kalo, i ka poopoo pohaku e kanu ai kekahi, i kahi kaheka kekahi, lele wale aku no i kela wahi i keia wahi.

Eia kou hale ma Keahi i Puuloa, Ewa, Mokupuni Oahu. Eia kona mau palena, ma ka Akau he kula e ku ana i kau haha paakai, ma ka Hikina ko Naunau ana puni, ma ka Hema ke kai, ka ke Komohana ke ana puni o Mahiole.

16 makahiki kou noho ana i keia kuleana hale. O wau no me ka mahalo kau kauwa hoolohe.

Na Nahuawai.

The translation of the record is below.

To the Honorable Commissioners who Quiet Land Claims. Aloha to you. I hereby tell you of my house and combined kula parcel claim. The combined boundaries are not known like those of the banked walls of loi kalo (taro pond fields), the planting is done in hollows of rocks, and in kaheka (small brackish water ponds) and are scattered about at various places.

Here is my house at Keahi in Puuloa, Ewa, Island of Oahu. Here are its boundaries: towards the North, a kula parcel where my haha paakai (salt gathering beds) are situated; towards the East, surrounded by Naunau; towards the South, the sea; towards the West, surrounded by Mahiole.

My residency at this house claim has been for 16 years. I am with appreciation, your obedient servant.

By Nahuawai2

1Native Register, Vol. 5, Number 6132, Puuloa, Ewa, December 13, 1847, p. 243–244.

2Translated by Maly.

By the time of the Mahele Aina (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 Puuloa, where foreigners gained control of the land and engaged native Hawaiians as employees of newly developing businesses. The other native tenants of the Honouliuli coastal lands who survived the numerous bouts of infectious diseases chose to relocate to areas where fresh water and larger communities had been established inland. As a result, there were no native tenant claims recorded for the lands that encompass the Hoakalei Preservation areas.

The historic papers published in Hawai‘i in the 1830s to mid-1900s contain many entries identifying residents of Honouliuli Ahupuaa and neighboring lands. From a review of both Hawaiian- and English-language publications are found names of individuals who resided on the land and descriptions of their land-use practices.

John Papa Ii, one of the preeminent native Hawaiian historians, was born at Kumelewai, Waipio in Ewa in 1800. Raised as an attendant to the Kamehameha heirs, he was privy to many facets of early history, practices, and events during his life.  In the 1860s, Ii published a history under the title Na Hunahuna o ka Moolelo Hawaii that was translated by Mary Kawena Pukui and published as Fragments of Hawaiian History [15]. Based on the translations, Paul Rockwood produced a map of the trail routes and several locations identified by Ii in his narratives.

Trails from Honolulu to Ewa

Let us turn to look at the trail going to Ewa from Kikihale, up to Leleo, to Koiuiu and on to Keoneula. There were no houses there, only a plain. It was there that the boy Ii and his attendants, coming from Ewa, met with the god Kaili and its attendants who were going to Hoaeae. When the kapu moe was proclaimed, they all prostrated themselves on the plain until the god and his attendants passed by … the trail went to Kaleinakauhane, then to Kapukaki, from where one could see the irregular sea of Ewa; then down the ridge to Napeha, a resting place for the multitude that went diving there at a deep pool. This pool was named Napeha (Lean Over), so it is said, because Kualii, a chief of ancient Oahu, went there and leaned over the pool to drink water.

The trail began again on the opposite side of the pool and went to the lowland of Halawa, on to Kauwamoa, a diving place and a much-liked gathering place. It was said to be the diving place of Peapea, son of Kamehamehanui of Maui who was swift in running and leaping. The place from which he dove into the water was 5 to 10 fathoms above the pool.

There the trail led to the taro patches in Aiea and up the plain of Kukiiahu. Just below the trail was the spot where Kaeo, chief of Kauai, was killed by Kalanikupule. From there the trail went along the taro patches to the upper part of Kohokoho and on to Kahuewai, a small waterfall. On the high ground above, a little way on, was a spring, also a favorite gathering place for travelers. From there it continued over a small plain, down the small hill of Waimalu, and along the taro patches that lay in the center of the land. Above this trail was the home of one of the two haole men previously mentioned, the men to whom the boy’s attendants spoke.

Paula Marin had a place there also. It could be seen near the edge of a low cliff going down to the upper side of a grove of cactus plants, said to have been first brought to Hawaii by Marin.

The trail went down to the stream and up again, then went above the taro patches of Waiau, up to a maika field, to Waimano, to Manana, and to Waiawa; then to the stream of Kukehi and up to two other maika fields, Pueohulunui and Haupuu. At Pueohulunui was the place where a trail branched off to go to Waialua and down to Honouliuli and on to Waianae. As mentioned before, there were three trails to Waianae, one by way of Puu o Kapolei, another by way of Pohakea, and the third by way of Kolekole.

From Kunia the trail went to the plain of Keahumoa, on to Maunauna, and along Paupauwela, which met with the trails from Wahiawa and Waialua. The trail continued to the west of Mahu, to Malamanui, and up to Kolekole, from where one can look down to Pokai and Waianaeuka. There was a long cliff trail called Elou from Kalena and Haleauau on the east side of Kaala coming down to Waianae. There was also a trail called Kumaipo which went up and then down Makahauka. [15:95–97]

Entering the Ewa District from Waianae uka

There the trail met with the one from Kolekole and continued on to the stream of Waikakalaua, Piliamoo, the plain of Punaluu, to a rise, then down to Kipapa and to Kekualele [Kekuaolelo]. A trail ran from this main trail to Kalakoa, Oahunui, and other places much visited, such as Kukaniloko. From there it extended to the digging place of Kahalo, then went below to Paupalai, thence to Lelepua, and to Kahalepoai, where the legendary characters Kalelealuaka and Keinohoomanawanui lived. Then it reached Kekuaolelo, the stone in which the niho palaoa was hidden, then went on to Puunahawele and Pueohulunui, where it met with the Waialua trail.

All of these places mentioned had large populations. The land was rich, and there were many trees in olden times. Who has “closed” these places today? We do not know enough to say, “It was so-and-so.” But there would be commercial wealth in the trees of these mountains if they were fenced off from animals. So it is with the planting places of every poor person. The person who manages these mountains and valleys could become prosperous. [15:99]


In 1820, the first contingent of Protestant missionaries associated with the American Board of Christian Foreign Missions (ABCFM) arrived in the Hawaiian Islands. The Honolulu station became the focal point of the missionary’s operations, with substations on the major islands in the largest population centers. Periodically, the Honolulu station managers would travel around Oahu to inspect the progress being made in work in the outlying stations, including church work, educational endeavors, and facilities to support the foreign missionaries’ living situation. Levi Chamberlain made tours of Oahu in 1826 and 1828 and wrote fairly detailed descriptions of the districts he visited, including passing reference to Honouliuli.

The following is an excerpt of Chamberlain’s original handwritten notes, which were digitized from the ABCFM archives at Harvard by Kumu Pono Associates in 2004. It is from Chamberlain to Rufus Anderson, dated September 12, 1828 and describes two trips made around the island of Oahu to examine the schools and determine progress in the education of the natives.

About two years ago I performed a tour around this island, and I have recently made another. It was my intention to give you a brief account of my first tour, but I could not find time to do it while the scenes that passed under my observation and the events that transpired were fresh to my mind & retained their hold upon my feelings.

I propose now to give you a history of my last tour, and in doing it I may refer to my minuets of the former tour … I shall now attempt to give some account of the tour, and of the schools which I visited. I will begin my mentioning the names of my hoahele, [fellow travelers] which were as follows: Jesse Kahananui, Lazarus Kamakahiki, Abraham Naaoa, members of the church, Kaukaliu & Kauhikoa, serious and intelligent native teachers, each of whom had one or more attendants to accompany them & to carry food and baggage. I was also furnished by Kaahumanu with a suitable number of persons to carry my food & bedding, and to attend to my wants on the way…

[Departing from the Waianae District, Chamberlain wrote]:

…The food by which the inhabitants are supplied, is cultivated in the vallies, which open among the mountains two or three mile from the shore.

It was quite dark when we reached Waimanalo, and our arriving at the school house in which we expected to put up, we were disappointed to find it deserted; and it was infested with fleas that we feared we could not make ourselves comfortable in it. Some of the people of the place gathered around us, & we besought them to afford us accommodations in someone of their houses. One man whose house stood nearest us and who was, I believe, the head man of the place, readily offered us his, and immediately began to put things in order for our accommodations; he did what he could to make us comfortable, and, as the house was small, vacated it entirely for our use.

Saturday Feb. 9th I enjoyed comfortable repose during the night and awaked refreshed.  I arose and united with my attendants in singing a hymn, and offering a tribute of thanksgiving to God for his care & unfailing kindness. After breakfast a few scholars assembled in front of the house. I examined them and to one of them I gave a catechism and a Sermon on the mount.

Their teacher was absent, and I exhorted them not, on that account, to neglect instructions, but to give more attention to it, to assemble on the Sabbath, and learn the catechism, and repeat passages from the word of God. At 10 minutes before 8 o’ck, after thanking our kind host for his attention to us, we set out for the next district. In consequence of the recent heavy rains the roads were very muddy, & the travelling very bad. We had met with nothing like it in any part of our previous journey travelling. After walking three hours & most of the time in mud, we reached Honouliuli in the district of Ewa. A school of 22 scholars had assembled which I examined. The head man, Kawaa, very kindly entertained me, caused a fowl to be cooked and some kalo to be nicely prepared, and furnished the native with a liberal supply of fish and poi. He invited me to stop and spend the Sabbath with him; but as his house was small, and our company had now become large by the accession of the teachers & their attendants who separated from us at Waialua and had crossed the inland and had put up at this place, I thought it best to decline his offer. But feeling desirous that religious worship should be conducted here on the morrow, I recommended that the party who had crossed the island should spend the Sabbath here, while we who had travelled round the shore, should proceed to the next considerable settlement, and make arrangements for spending the Sabbath.

Having expressed to Kawaa my thanks for his kindness, I set forwards with my attendants, and between the hours for three & four o’ck P.M. arrived at Waikele. Towards evening I attended to the examination of two schools, which met in front of the house where I had put up. At the close of the examination I gave information that religious worship would be conducted in the same place on the morrow & requested that all the people of the place should be informed & invited to attend.

Sabbath Feby. 10th The people of Waikele & the neighboring lands assembled in the forenoon to the number of 150 or 200.1

1Typed by Kumu Pono Associates from a copy of the original handwritten letter in the collection of the ABCFM, Houghton Library, Harvard, Reel 794.

In pre-western contact Hawaii, all ainakai lawaia, and natural resources extending from the mountaintops to the depths of the ocean were held in “trust” by the high chiefs—moialii ai moku, or alii ai ahupuaa. The right to use plots of land, fisheries, and natural resources was given to the hoaaina at the prerogative of the alii and their representatives or land agents, often referred to as konohiki or haku aina. Following a strict code of conduct, which was based on ceremonial and ritual observances, the people of the land were generally able to collect all of the natural resources— terrestrial and aquatic—for their own sustenance and to pay tribute to the class of chiefs and priests who oversaw them and ensured the prosperity of the natural environment through their divine mana.1

As western concepts of property rights began to infiltrate the Hawaiian system shortly after the arrival of foreigners in the islands, Kamehameha I, who had secured rule over all of the islands in the early 1800s, granted perpetual interest in select lands and fisheries to some foreign residents, but he and the chiefs under him generally remained in control of all resources. After Kamehameha I died in 1819 and the Protestant missionaries arrived in 1820, the concepts of property rights, including rights to fisheries, evolved and were codified under Kamehameha II and his younger brother, Kauikeaouli, who ruled as Kamehameha III.

Missionary William Richards wrote this early observation on the nature of Hawaiian resource management—rights to resources from both land and sea—in 1825:

The right, by which a man may claim fish caught by others in the sea, may, indeed, be questioned by those enlightened in the principles of jurisprudence; but the chiefs of the Sandwich Island, make no questions on the subject. They lay equal claim to the sea and land, as their property. The sea is divided into different portions; and those who own a tract of land on the sea shore, own also the sea that fronts it. The common rule observed by the chiefs is, to give about one half of the fish to the fishermen, and take the other half to themselves.2

The inexorable move to Western style fee-simple property rights in the Hawaiian Kingdom resulted in the Mahele Aina of 1848, which divided ownership among the king, his chiefs, the government, and commoners. The Mahele Aina records and associated Helu or LCA Numbers that identified the original holders of title to lands throughout the Hawaiian Islands remain in use today. The story of the Mahele Aina reveals much about residency, land use, and land tenure, but also leaves much unanswered.

It is important to remember that by the time of the Mahele Aina, the population of the Hawaiian Islands, including the ahupuaa of Honouliuli, had been in decline for several decades. Many once populated areas along the Honouliuli shoreline were abandoned, and the decrease of population continued through the years of the Mahele. In several instances, applicants died between the time a claim was registered in 1847 and when testimonies were offered in 1848 to support the claim.

1It is of interest to note the fact that the Hawaiian system of land ownership, virtually identical to feudalism in medieval Europe in the ninth to fifteenth centuries, could evolve in total isolation, and is the subject of much speculation among scholars. However, there are some who disagree with the characterization of the Hawaiian land ownership system as feudalism [cf. 30].

2Letter of William Richards dated August 9, 1825, Missionary Herald, June 1826, p. 174–175.