Ka Wai Ola

Makahiki 1778… “Arrival of Lono (Captain Cook)”

This story is taken from “Ka Mooolelo Hawaii,” a collection of essays written in the 1830s by Native Hawaiian students at Lahainaluna School for Reverend Sheldon Dibble. Dibble published them in book -form in 1838. These essays were translated from Hawaiian to English by Dorothy M. Kahananui, who republished the book in 1984.

Lono (Captain Cook) anchored off Waimea, Kaua‘i. He arrived in January, in the year of our Lord, 1778. Kaneoneo and Keawe were the ruling chiefs of Kaua‘i at that time. They arrived at Waimea at night. When daylight came, the people on land saw the remarkable thing floating offshore and they shrieked loudly.

They said to each other, “What in the world is that large branching thing!” Someone said, “It’s a forest which has moved into the ocean (sea).” And there was great excitement.

Then some chiefs bade some men set sail out in a canoe so they could see that wonderful spectacle better. They sailed till they were close to the vessel. They saw the iron sticking to the outside of the vessel. They were overjoyed at seeing so much iron. They had seen iron before that, on wood which washed ashore, but that was nothing compared to this. There was so much iron.

They went on board and saw people with white foreheads and glittering eyes, with wrinkled clothing; and the heads were angular and spoke a foreign language.

Then they thought the men were women, since their heads were like that of women of that time. They saw there was a great deal of iron on board. They stared at it in amazement.

And they returned and reported on all that they had seen and about the large amount of iron. One of the warriors heard the report. He said, “I’ll go and gather that treasure because that’s how I make my living, merely scooping up whatever I can.” The high chief agreed. Then said warrior sailed and went on board, helped himself to the iron and he was shot, and said warrior died. His name was Kapūpu‘u. The canoe fleet retreated and reported that Kapūpu‘u had been shot to death.

And that night guns were fired and fire leaped skyward. The people thought it was a god. They named it Lonomakua – Father Lono. The natives thought they should fight.

A certain chiefess – Kamuali‘i’s mother – whose name was Kamakahelei, said, “Don’t urge war against our god, placate him so the god will be kind to us.” Then Kamakahelei gave her own daughter as companion for “Lono,” Captain Cook. Lelemahoalani was the name of said woman and the foreign men slept with the women of Kaua‘i who gave themselves for iron. Later venereal disease broke out among the women and afterwards the men became infected and this awful disease spread and became the refuse pit of these islands. The first things which were spread here in Hawai‘i were sin and death. Shame on the people who spread this awful disease here.