Project Canterbury

The Hawaiian Church.

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of Melanesia, 2006

From Mission Life, Vol. IV (Jan. 1, 1869)


THE BISHOP of Honolulu has received from Kalakaua, High Chamberlain to the King of Hawaii, and a leading member of the Church there, the following letter. It is inserted as bearing testimony to the progress of the work in the city of Honolulu, and as containing several other points of interest. The English is his own, which will account for any peculiarities of style or expression:--

"Honolulu, Oct. 5th, 1868.--It has been some time since I have communicated with you, owing to the idea your lordship were to return soon; but the latest intelligence bringing us news that you work for the Church will detain you a little longer in England, I will now send these few lines, hoping it may interest you.

"The Church is steadily progressing, and, with such a good man as the Dean, in time it will overcome all the obstacles thrown in its way by Puritans and the Roman Church. Its devotional service, and reverence in the worship of God, is the very thing that will impress the Hawaiia [sic] mind, a people accustomed to [14/15] religious forms and ceremonies, and with a pure doctrine, as we have in the Church of England, it will pave its way over all difficulties.

"The school (daily and native) that had dwindled down to a mere nothing before Mr. Harris's arrival, has increased to forty boys. The Sisters' schools, both in Lahaina and Honolulu, are more and more patronized by the people. [Footnote: The latest accounts from these ladies state, their schools can receive no more borders, and new dormitories are required.] The native congregations have increased, and like our hearty services, the early Communion services on Sundays, at eight a.m., have been attended by forty to fifty (adults), something unusual since the church was established. I hope that when you lordship comes out, to bring more clergymen, as the field is great by the labour is small, to save the wandering people of Hawaii-nei. [Footnote: Hawaii-nei, is the expressed used when the whole kingdom, and not the single island of Hawaii, is implied.]

"I am occupying my time in gathering materials of the Hawaiian myths, with the intention of putting them into book form, printed and bound in England, to be sold for the benefit of the Church, and by the next mail I shall be able to send you the first slips printed here. The Hawaiia [sic] mythology, however fabulous it may appear, bears a striking analogy to the narratives given in Jewish history. The myth of the origin of the first man and woman, the god that created them, the one that tempted them, has a striking resemblance to the account given in Scripture of the origin of the first man and woman. [Footnote: To the native mind, this must be a great confirmation of the truth of the original story thus preserved, though in a perhaps distorted form, in their primitive traditions. Many of their ceremonies of purification, the rite of circumcision (which has not yet died out), the remains of these cities of refuge, all must have the same tendency.]

"The simple fact that heathenism prevailed to its highest extent, as represented by the first missionaries--and all who have attempted to produce a history of this benighted race--created, no doubt, a little prejudice in their minds, so as to throw out these accounts entirely as fiction. Another cause that a true history has never been rendered, is owing to its being kept secret for the benefit of the Ruling One.

"I must not forget to mention that I have read your book with much interest, and only regret that the facts given as to the good the mission has done are so limited--still enough to show that it has done great good to the state of things before its arrival.

"I must end, and say my aloka.


From Mission Life, Vol. IV (January 1, 1869), pages 63-64


THE following letter has been received from the Rev. T. Harris, M.A., formerly the Incumbent of Kirkheaton, and Dean at Honolulu:--"The Clergy House, October 5th.--All is going on well. At our congregation at the eight o'clock early celebration yesterday (Sunday), were thirty-five communicants, not including the Sisterhood and their school, which were there besides. On Saints' days we often have more than thirty. At the native Litany, on Wednesdays and Fridays, at three p.m., we have not less than forty. Nearly as many attend my Bible-class regularly. At the women's, Queen Emma interprets. I trust I am getting a real hold on some of the young men. Eleven attend regularly my young men's class for foreigners. The native offertory has more than doubled. The native day school have doubled in numbers, and I have therefore got an increase in the Government grant--twelve dollars a month instead of ten (36l. per annum). As your [63/64] lordship will not be here before Christmas, may I admit some of the more earnest candidates for confirmation; to Holy Communion, provided they are 'ready and desirous' to be confirmed? Some, I know, wish very much to communicate. Mrs. ----, is collecting money for an altar cloth--it is her own suggestion. The natives are going to offer a very handsomely-bound Hawaiian Bible for the lectern on St. Luke's day. This is all their own doing, and the Queen has taken a great interest in it, I believe. We have had several adult baptisms of natives. Mr. L---- [Footnote: An old Englishman, who arriving in 1815 as a shipwrecked sailor, commenced business as a ship carpenter, and acquired property.] has just left 100 dollars to the church."

From Mission Life, Vol. IV (February 1, 1869), pages 82-84.


LETTERS dated November 13th have been received by the Bishop of Honolulu from Her Majesty Queen Emma. They contain an encouraging tribute to the labours of the Rev. T. Harris, M.A., who went out last April as Dean at Honolulu. She says--

"The good the Dean is doing amongst us is unspeakable. He has thoroughly roused the Church at Honolulu from its lethargy. He is, in fact, working splendidly. He hopes to have at least forty of his native adult catechumens ready for baptism on Christmas Day. I am sure of ten or more from the women's class, for every one has been asked by him to get at least one new member ready to be admitted as a catechumen by the 17th."

The Rev. C. G. Williamson must have been lately much tried at Kona (on the western coast of the island of Hawaii), where a station of our Church was greatly needed, and was accordingly established. He lives only a few miles from the very spot where Captain Cook fell in 1779. That much remains to be accomplished in the way of educating, Christianising influences in this neighbourhood, will be apparent from the fact that there has just been an outburst of semi-heathen fanaticism among some of the natives of Kona, terminating in murders exceeding in atrocity that of our gallant navigator. A man named Kaona, who had been in the Honolulu Lunatic Asylum, persuaded some 200 natives that he was a prophet, and wrought upon their imaginations to such a degree that he persuaded them to settle, with him as their leader, on some disputed land, and form an independent community. The sheriff, Mr. Neville, a respectable Englishman, a communicant of the Church, entering their encampment on horseback to serve them with an ejectment, was, in the execution of his duty, literally stoned to death. His body was also cruelly mutilated. One of the Island papers, adds further:-- 'His murder was even more brutal than has been stated. He was first made an eye-witness of the murder of his constable, then taken out himself and cruelly beaten to death with clubs, several of the fanatics taking part in the crime.'

Mr. Williamson states: 'I was informed of Mr. N.'s death about 10 a.m. on Monday, while in school, and I could hardly [82/83] believe it until I went, with Mr. Greenwell and Mr. Logan (two English residents), myself to their camp. We asked for his body and were refused. Mr. Greenwell asked in the name of the law, and I did so in the name of the Church. We are informed they threaten the lives and persons of foreigners, and we anxiously wait for advice and assistance from Honolulu."

In a few days a force of 100 soldiers arrived, sent by the King's government from Honolulu, when the whole of the followers of Kaona were taken prisoners, and conveyed in a steamer from the scene of the disturbance to other districts, where, until their trial, they are engaged as labourers, under surveillance, on the sugar plantations.

It will be remembered that Kona suffered much from the earthquakes of April last, though the Church, School, and Clergy-house happily escaped destruction.

The following extracts from the letters of the Sisters in charge of the Girls' Schools at Honolulu and Lahaina will give some idea of their life and work:--

"We went to see the Queen, at her pretty house 'up the valley' after morning church, where we had stood as godmothers for two children and one adult native. We stayed with Her Majesty for several hours, the children enjoying their visit greatly. Before leaving they had quite a feast, the Queen and all of us sitting down with them on the grass, on which dinner was spread in native fashion, and with native dishes: 'luau' (boiled taro leaves), several kinds of fish, haali, poi-cakes, puddings, and fruits. We were indeed a pleasant party.

"Our dear little 'Abby' (the little daughter of a former pupil, herself married from the Lahaina 'Sisters'' School) has been called away at the early age of two years. We may trust she is now safe in paradise with our blessed Lord. We had had the charge of her a few weeks only, but we miss her very much. So sweet, docile, and intelligent, she was a universal favourite among the children, and picked up English so readily. Her death is a great grief to Sarah, her mother (an old pupil), and to her husband. He begged me to bring all our scholars to the funeral; and it was touching to see them all, clothed in white, standing round the grave, Archdeacon Mason performing the service.

"As I returned, I asked some of our little ones, whom we call 'the babies,' if we should ever see Abby again?

[84] "They immediately replied, 'Yes, at the Last Day she will rise.'

"Dr. L------ has been appointed by Government to visit the islands and inquire into the state of the health of the people. He came to this school (Lahaina) to vaccinate some of the little ones. He says that many native children die from neglect, and that a 'Female Orphan Asylum' is a great necessity. He knows that 'the buildings and funds would be provided,' so great, he says, is the general confidence in the stability of the 'Sisters' work.'

"Among the scholars, continue regular communicants, and rejoice in each occasion of receiving the Blessed Sacrament. Seven others are desiring confirmation, and are longing for the return of the Bishop.

"You would have been amused had you seen what a state of excitement the children were thrown into by the announcement that a box from England might shortly be expected. I think they feared they would not receive one in time for the Christmas prize distribution.

"---- visited old Papalai (an old native woman), and read aloud to her and one of her friends. They expressed pleasure at out friendly behaviour in coming to them in their huts, instead of keeping them at a distance, and instructing them only at halawais (meetings).

"---- visited Kiaka, a terribly deformed woman, but a changed character, who lives quietly, and takes pleasure in frequent prayer.

"Sister ---- has just be summoned to visit a dying case. Our stock of medicines is well nigh exhausted." [A very great service would be rendered to the Sisterhood in the Islands, by the sending out to them another medicine-chest, or the replenishing of their present one.]

It should be stated that a class has been formed in the Lahaina institution, for candidates for the office of Native School-mistresses, one hitherto most ill supplied, notwithstanding the efforts of the Hawaiian Board of Education to meet the want. The Lahaina "Sisters'" School seems likely thus to remedy a national difficulty. The candidates are to wear a neat distinctive dress, while their education is to have its appropriate specialties.

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