Connecting with History

While you’re staying home, Hawaiian Mission Houses brings its programming to you. Bookmark this page and check back daily for a new way to learn and have fun with history.

Today’s Feature

ka moena

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Today’s huaʻōlelo o ka lā is ka moena, meaning mat or resting place. It is dervied from the word meaning to sleep or lie down which is “moe”. Before the Western style bed was introduced, Hawaiians usually slept on moena lau hala (pandanus leaf mats), and actually preferred these over the missionary beds. Kaʻahumanu was known to sleep on a stack of at least 30 mats.
There are many different words for types of moena, showcasing how intricate and detailed the Hawaiian language is in differentiating things. There are moena kumunuʻa which are sleeping mats that were thicker at one end to be used as a pillow, moena ʻāneʻeneʻe which were smaller mats that were carried around and used to sit on, moena makapepe which had medium sized wefts, and moena makaliʻi which had small, narrow sized wefts, just to name a few. 



Now and Then

Now and Then – The Adobe School House

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The Adobe School House was built in the 1830s and is today part of Kawaiaha`o Church Preschool.

Now and Then – View from the Pali

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The views from the Pali are world famous, but what did the view look like in 1932?  How are they similar or different today?  Try it out yourself!  Recreate a historical view today with the #thenandnowchallenge!

Now and Then – 1821 Mission House

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The 1821 Mission House is the oldest still-standing house in all of Hawaiʻi. There are many photographs of it throughout its history. What differences and similarities do you see in the different photographs through time?

Partners in Change

Partners in Change, Dr. Thomas Holman

Partners in Change, Lucia Ruggles Holman

Journal writing

Missionaries kept all kinds of journals documenting their daily lives during their mission in the Sandwich Islands.

Activity: Now that you are learning at home, start a journal and document your daily life. What is your routine, what did you eat today, what activities did you do? How do you feel?
Why is keeping a journal important?
To record your own personal history for future historians and to give your perspective, or point of view, on the experiences of your life.  These might become very important to future historians studying the time period in which we are living.


Learn ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

ka hale pule
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Today’s huaʻōlelo o ka lā is ka hale pule, meaning church or chapel. The word hale means house and pule means to pray, so ka hale pule literally means prayer house. 
This photo, taken sometime before 1885, is of Kawaiahaʻo Church with it’s original steeple. Kawaiahaʻo Church was established in 1820, which makes it 200 years old, by the first company of missionaries that came to Hawaiʻi. The church was first named “Mission Church of Honolulu”, but was later renamed to Kawaiahaʻo Church in 1840 when it became more well known and popular. 
The foundation for this coral church, which was comprised of 14,000 coral blocks that were mined from the reefs, was laid in 1839 and was finished in 1842. 
It was at Kawaiahaʻo Church that Kauikeaouli uttered what is now Hawaiʻi’s motto, “Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono”. And historically, the monarch would take their oath of office at the church. Kawaiahaʻo did and continues to play an important role in Hawaiʻi’s society.
ka paipala
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Today’s huaʻōlelo o ka lā is ka paipala, meaning bible. The word paipala is derived from the English term. The Holy Bible is referred to as Ka Paipala Hemolele, the word hemolele meaning holy, or sometimes Ka Palapala Hemolele, palapala meaning document or manuscript. 
When the missionaries came to Hawaiʻi, they wanted to translate the bible into ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, to teach Hawaiians about religion. Before doing so, the missionaries had to develop a written language because ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi was strictly oral. 
To translate the bible, 4 missionaries and 5 aliʻi had to work together. This group consisted of Hiram Bingham, Asa Thurston, William Richards, Artemas Bishop, John Adams Kuakini, Ulumaheihei Hoapili, Kēlou Kamakau, Ioane Papa ʻĪʻī, and Davida Malo. 
ka hānau
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Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa Kuakamanolani Mahinalani Kalaninuiwaiakua Keaweaweʻulaokalani was the 3rd Kamehameha to rule over Hawaiʻi. He was born in 1814 and many believe that his name, Kauikeaouli, translates to “placed in the dark clouds”. When the missionaries came in 1820, the young prince was one of the first children to be educated by them, learning the English language. In 1825, Kauikeaouli was proclaimed mōʻī (monarch) of Hawaiʻi, following the death of Liholiho. Since he was only 10 years old at the time, Kaʻahumanu was chosen as the kuhina nui (regent) for him. 
During his later years as mōʻī, he believed that education was the most important thing for the kingdom with all the changes happening around them. He proclaimed, “My kingdom shall be a kingdom of learning.” With this, missionary teachers started schools teaching the people to read and write in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. In 1839, he established the Chief’s Children’s School to prepare future leaders to rule a kingdom that included Hawaiians and foreigners. 

ke kilika

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Todays huaʻōlelo o ka lā is kilika, meaning silk. As you can tell, the English word, silk, was “Hawaiianized” and became kilika. Another more literal translation of silk is “lole pāheʻe”, meaning slippery or smooth clothes. 
In the upstairs Judd bedroom of the 1821 Frame House sits a bolt of black silk. The moʻolelo, story, behind that has to do with Kaʻahumanu and this missionary women. It was before the grand opening of Kawaiahaʻo church and Kaʻahumanu gave the missionary women this beautifully colored silk to make her and themselves dresses to wear to the event. However, these missionaries didn’t usually wear any type of gaudy looking clothes, and turned her down. Kaʻahumanu came back with this black silk, and the women made their dresses. To this day, ka ʻAhahui Kaʻahumanu (Kaʻahumanu Society) members still wear these black dresses. 

ka hale waihona puke

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The term “hale waihona puke” is translated to be “library”, if we break down this phrase we get “hale” which means house or building, “waihona” which is a depository, and “puke” which are books. So literally, we get the translation, “a building where books are stored”. 
At the Hawaiian Mission Houses there is a vast library where people can do research on various things like genealogies and missionary life in the 1820s and onward. During this time, people can search through our online library to look through photographs, aliʻi letters, and many more! 

ka hānai

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The word hānai has many different meanings; to adopt, feed, raise, and caretaker. The practice of hānai in traditional Hawaiʻi was a very common thing. A child would be raised with someone who their parents entrusted, sometimes it was because this person could provide more for the child in terms of knowledge. 
When Laura Judd, wife of Gerrit P. Judd, was giving birth, Kīnaʻu, who was Kuhina Nui at the time, came into the room asking to hānai their child; because the Judd’s were not accustomed to this practice, they declined. Despite this, Kīnaʻu and Laura became good friends afterwards.

ka huakaʻi

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When the first company of missionaries sailed to Hawaiʻi, it took them 164 days, or about 5 months, to go from New England to Kailua-Kona on Hawaiʻi Island, which is approximately 13,000 miles. Because this huakaʻi took place before the creation of the Panama Canal, these missionaries had to sail around the southern most tip of South America. With today’s technology, a flight from Boston to Hawaiʻi is about 12-14 hours. 

ka mōʻī

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The word mōʻī translates to king or monarch, but it is somewhat of a newer term in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. According to John F. G. Stokes, who was the curator of Polynesian Ethnology at Bishop Museum in 1903, the word was first seen in print in 1832. “Mōʻī” perhaps comes from the words “moʻo”, which means succession or lineage, and “ʻī” which means supreme. 
This photo comes from the Hawaiian Mission Houses Library collection and is of King Street on Oʻahu. The street was called King’s Path because Kamehameha III was known to parade up and down the road, then it turned into King’s Road, and today we know it to be King Street. 


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In 1843, Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea (Sovereignty Restoration Day), was established by Kamehameha III, Kauikeaouli. This was after the Paulet Affair, which was a temporary occupation of Hawaiʻi by Great Britain led by Captain George Paulet. 
The saying “Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono” was said by Kauikeaouli during a flag ceremony that was held where Thomas Square is today. This celebration became one of the first national holidays of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

ke kuhina nui

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The term “kuhina nui” is most often translated as “prime minister”, or “premier”, but according to Kuykendall, the position carried much more power. Essentially, the kuhina nui ruled alongside the Mōʻī (monarch). Kaʻahumanu was the first person to hold this title and she ruled alongside Liholiho, to whom she was appointed to as personal guardian by Kamehameha I. During her co-reign, she and Keōpuōlani influenced Liholiho to break the ʻai kapu, thus abolishing the kapu system. When the missionaries arrived in 1820, she embraced the religion and learned to read and write. Then in 1825, she set forth laws for observing the Sabbath day, and prohibiting the selling and drinking alcohol. 

ke paʻi palapala

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When the missionaries first came to Hawaiʻi, they had brought the Rampage printing press with them. It remained idle for two years as they learned ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and began to develop a written alphabet. Finally on January 7, 1822, the press was run for the very first time. In attendance were Rev. Hiram Bingham, Aliʻi Keʻeaumoku of Maui, Elisha Loomis, and a few ship captains. The first document they printed was a Hawaiian and English language primer. 
This photo is of a printing office in Honolulu, found in the Hawaiʻi Mission Houses library collection.

ka ʻekalakia

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Todays word is ʻekalakia meaning church, as an organization, while hale pule is the term for the building. This word is derived from the Greek word “ekklesia” meaning “a called-out assembly or congregation”. Similarly, ʻekalakia is usually pronounced as ʻekalasia. 
This photo is of Kawaiahaʻo church in 1936. 

Hāhā pōʻele ka pāpaʻi o Kou

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This ʻōlelo noʻeau (proverbial saying), “hāhā pōʻele ka pāpaʻi o Kou” translates to “the crabs of Kou are groped for in the dark”. Kou was the traditional name for Kawaiahaʻo, the home of the mission houses. Aliʻi (chiefs) had gaming houses here and would play things like kilu, kōnane, and ʻulumaika until very late and it was too dark to see anything so they would have to grope around to find their companions. 
This photo is of the Chamberlain House on the Hawaiʻi Mission Houses site. 

ka meaʻai

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When the missionaries first arrived in Hawaiʻi they were gifted lots of food from the aliʻi (chiefs). They were given things like kalo, fish, meat, and fresh fruits and vegetables. They also sent to the ABCFM asking for other foods they were more accustomed to like flour, molasses, coffee, cheese, and spirits. 

ka ʻāina

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I ka wā kahiko (in the old times), these islands were churning out tons of food to feed the ever growing population. In fact, the island of Oʻahu was called “ʻāina momona”, or the “land fat with food.” This was because there were about 114 loko iʻa (fish ponds) here out of the approximate 200 in all of Hawaiʻi. These 114 loko iʻa were able to produce 300 to 500 pounds of fish per acre per year. On Oʻahu there were also loʻi kalo (irrigated terrace for growing taro) covering about 78% of the land. All of this food production made for this beautiful ʻāina momona, sustaining a population of over one million people.

ka moku

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When foreigners first came to Hawaiʻi aboard their large ships, Hawaiians had never seen such things before; they thought these foreign ships were floating islands. The Hawaiian word for island is moku, thus they called these ships moku as well.

This etching, which is a part of the Hawaiian Mission Houses Library collection, was done by John Kelly in 1932. Kelly was born in California and worked for the San Francisco Examiner as a graphic artist. In 1923, he came to Hawaiʻi with his family and was commissioned to draw out a new housing development on Oʻahu.

ka pīʻāpā

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In January 1822, the printing press that the missionaries brought to Hawaiʻi was used for the first time. A small group of aliʻi, missionaries, and merchants were in attendance, including Reverend Bingham and Chief Keʻeaumoku of Maui. The pīʻāpā was the first thing to be printed and was used to teach reading and writing. This primer became so popular that over 2,000 copies were printed within 6 months.

Hui aku nā maka i Kou

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The area we know as downtown Honolulu was traditionally called Kou. This area was known to have many gaming houses of the aliʻi (chiefs) where they would play games like kōnane and ʻulu maika. Makaʻāinana (commoners) and aliʻi alike would come together to relax and socialize. 

ka lāʻau lapaʻau

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Dr. Gerrit Judd was one of the missionaries to come to Hawaiʻi on the third mission from the ABCFM in 1828. He was a physician in New York and was assigned as such during his mission. Dr. Judd utilized both traditional Hawaiian herbal medicine along with the medicines learned about in America and would treat people in the basement of the 1821 frame house. In 1842, Judd resigned from the mission and became a translator and cabinet member for Kauikeaouli.

Ola ke awa o Kou i ka ua Waʻahila

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Kou is the traditional name of the area we know as downtown Honolulu and is known to be a relatively dry area. The ua (rain) of Nuʻuanu called Waʻahila flows down in streams through Kou, and down into the ocean. While the missionaries resided in Kou, they sometimes had to travel to Nuʻuanu to collect water.

ka nūpepa

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Ka Lama Hawaiʻi was the first of many Hawaiian language newspapers, the first edition was printed on February 14, 1834, in Lāhaina, Maui. It was a weekly school newspaper that circulated at Lāhainaluna Seminary. Between the years 1834-1948, there were approximately 50 Hawaiian language newspapers that were printed and there are still efforts being made to translate the over 1,000,000 pages of text. 

ka wai

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The Mission Houses are located on a piece of land traditionally called Kawaiahaʻo, this name Kawaiahaʻo translates to “the water of Haʻo”, and refers to a spring located where Kawaiahaʻo Church sits today and was created by a young chief named Haʻo. He lived in his father’s court with his mother and younger sister. After his mother passed away, Haʻo and his sister ran away from their home because of the cruelties of their new step mother. Exhausted and thirsty from running, Haʻo stopped to rest and eventually fell asleep. While he dreamt, he was given instructions about how to  pull water up from the earth. He then woke up, followed what he was told and created a punawai (freshwater spring). With that he and his sister were able to drink water. Haʻo understood that this was a gift from the akua (gods) and he was in their favor. Later, a descendant of his, also named Haʻo, used this punawai as a private bathing pool.

ka hale pili

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When the missionaries first arrived in Hawaiʻi, they were guests of the aliʻi (chiefs). Because of this, where they were to live was decided upon by Chief Boki, governor of Oʻahu. He decided that these missionaries would reside at Kawaiahaʻo and his men built them hale pili to live in, which were located where the 1821 frame house sits today. The grass their homes were thatched with is called pili (Heteropogon contortus), a type of native grass that was commonly used for this purpose. 

ka mikanele

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Text that relates with ka mikanele
The first company of missionaries came from Boston, Massachusetts, aboard the Thaddeus. The missionaries included 7 couples from New England and 4 Hawaiian men who had been schoolmates of Henry ʻŌpūkahaʻia. Their voyage to Hawaiʻi was about 6 months long and they first sighted land at Kawaihae on Hawaiʻi Island on March 30, 1820, before anchoring in Kailua-Kona on April 4th


About Our Site

The Dining Room, 1821 Mission House
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Curator of Public Programs, Mike Smola, interprets the dining room of the 1821 Mission House.
Loomis Bedroom
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Text: Curator of Public Programs, Mike Smola, interprets the Loomis Bedroom in the 1821 Mission House.

Guest bedroom

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Curator of Public Programs, Mike Smola, interprets the guest bedroom of the 1821 Mission House.

Dr. Judd’s Surgical Kit

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Curator of Public Programs, Mike Smola, talks about the replica of Dr. Judd’s surgical kit in the 1821 House Dispensatory and 19th century vaccination against smallpox.

The Mission Dispensatory

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Curator of Public Programs, Mike Smola, interprets 19th century medicine inside the Mission Dispensatory in the cellar of the 1821 Mission House.

The Judd Bedroom

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Curator of Public Programs, Mike Smola, interprets the Judd Bedroom in the 1821 Mission House and tells a story of one instance of the missionaries learning to navigate aspects of Hawaiian culture.

Sophia Bingham por++trait

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Last week on Connecting with History we saw a video about the Sophia Bingham’s portrait which is located in the Bingham bedroom in the 1821 Frame House. Have you ever created a Self-Portrait? See instructions here for video and printed instructions on how to draw a self portrait.

The Bingham Bedroom

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Curator of Public Programs, Mike Smola, interprets the Bingham Bedroom in the 1821 Mission House and tells a touching story about the portrait of Sophia Bingham.

Frame House Kitchen

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Curator of Public Programs Mike Smola talks about the 1821 House Kitchen, the missionary diet, and where they got their food supplies from.

Chamberlain House 1850s Model

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Mike Smola, the Curator of Public Programs, explains what the area around the Honolulu Mission Station looked like about the year 1850.  This model is inside the Chamberlain House Orientation Center at the Hawaiian Mission Houses site.

Replica Ramage Printing Press Demonstration

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Curator of Public Programs Mike Smola explains and demonstrates the working replica of the Ramage Press brought by the ABCFM Missionaries in 1820 to Hawaii. Visit Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives “Connecting with History” website at for daily online

1821 Model of Honolulu Mission Station

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Curator of Public Programs Mike Smola explains what the area around the Hawaiian Mission Houses looked like in 1821, a year after the founding of the Honolulu Mission Station by the missionaries sent to Hawai`i by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

Bicentennial Program Updates