Kawaiahao Historic Articles

We share here historic articles of interest regarding the history of Kawaiahao and burial sites under the "care" of Kawaiahao Church membership. (research is still in progress)

Articles are presented in order, earliest to most recent.

The Independent (pg. 2)
May 13, 1897

Kawaiahao Church Wall

THE INDEPENDENT regrets that a misunderstanding should have been caused between our newspaper and the good and true men on board the United States men-of-war now anchored in our harbor.

Our friends on board the Philadelphia and the Marion must be aware of the fact that THE INDEPENDENT is now and always has been the mouthpiece and champion of the petty officers and sailors of the U.S. men-of-war visiting Honolulu. THE INDEPENDENT is sent to Maro Isl and by every steamer leaving this port, and the men who have visited Honolulu in days gone by seek the office of our journal whenever they land at the Honolulu wharf.

If in our remarks in regard to the scaling of the Kawaiahao Church wall, a few days ago, we hurt the feelings of the American marines and sailors, we make the amende honorable and regret that we were misunderstood.

We objected to and we still oppose the use of the wall around the Kawaiahao Church and the burying grounds for the purpose of maneuvering. The men, however, are not to blame. They obey orders, even if the orders are the result of bad judgment.

When we stated that the troops of the two U.S. men-of-war now in port could not scale the wall mentioned, under fire, we certainly did not mean that fear would prevent them from capturing a given point. The bravery and gallantry of every man wearing the uniform of Uncle Sam is well known to the world. If the “boys” were ordered into the infernal regions, they would obey and go there, even if they knew that they were never to return. In our humble opinion we believe that the wall-scaling as practiced on Tuesday by the combined forces of the two American men-of-war is impracticable if not impossible in actual warfare. Fifty sharpshooters in the church can prevent the scaling of the wall at any time, even if the stormers double the numbers of those who turned out at the late drill.

THE INDEPENDENT is the property of and is published by a native Hawaiian. The Hawaiians feel sore over the wall climbing business. The men who did it are not to blame. The “managers” of the affair and the parson who permitted the sacrilege should be censured. Is Admiral Beardslee aware that inside the wall, that his men and some of his officers climed in the presence of some of Honolulu’s 400, rest the bones of King Lunalilo, the People’s King, and that there are the tombs of many of the best and most worthy Hawaiians? Cannot the Admiral realize the feelings of the Hawaiians when they hear the blast of the bugle, the clattering of arms and the entering into their sacred grounds of foreign troops. May we ask the men and officers of the men-of-war now in port whether Americans would stand by quietly and look at foreign troops jumping into the enclosure around the Grant Mausoleum and do some drill business there.

We regret that we have spoken or written one, sharp or unpleasant word about the men of the Philadelphia and the Marion, but we cannot help asking every fair-minded sailor whose heart beats under the uniform of Uncle Sam, whether his sympathy is not with the poor down-trodden Hawaiians who wish to protect the graves of their friends and their chiefs who since Captain Wiltze landed the troops of the Boston here have seen the Royal Mausoleum desecrated the bones of their Alii’s carted away on common days and now finally see the last resting place of the great men of their race invaded by a strange soldiery for the purpose of “practicing scaling.”

Shame on the parson who offered the sacred precincts in his keeping for the use of “drill,” and double shame on the men whatever their rank may be who have helped to re-open the wound bleeding in the hearts of Hawaiians, since the Wiltze incident—a wound which we believed was nearly healed. We will give the Admiral the benefit of doubt. Perhaps he does not know how the Hawaiians feel and perhaps the insults offered to the Hawaiians and to their dead, are the result of misinformation, and are not given intentionally. The insults however, are easily given and very, very difficult to retract.

The Rev. Henry H. Parker, who we are told permitted the use of the Kawaiahao Church wall for climbing purposes, had better not repeat the offense. If he does, he will again find his church without a congregation.

While we cannot shake hands across the church wall, the boys in blue can rest assured that the good will of THE INDEPENDENT, is always with crews of Uncle Sam’s navy, and we feel assured that true reciprocity is to be found there.

The Evening Bulletin (pg. 6)
December 18, 1902

Voice of People Prevails to Keep Cemeteries Open

In response to the Board of Health’s invitation to the public for a conference on the question of closing up the cemeteries within the city, a large concourse of native Hawaiians with a few white citizens attended the weekly meeting of the Board yesterday afternoon. The assemblage filed standing room out into the corridor. Many of the natives were women, one of whom delivered what was among the most pointed speeches that were heard. It was all a remarkable object lesson showing the pious respect of the Hawaiians for their dead. Several white speakers sustained the position taken by the Hawaiians, notably the venerable Dr. Hiram Bingham. The whole burden of the popular expressions being that the Board should not act hastily, but should await legislative action providing new burial places and, especially, should avoid putting the poor at the mercy of private cemetery enterprises. There was a pathos about the appeals that could be felt by any unpertrified heart, and the result was that the Board took action of its own motion which went beyond what was asked. Practically, the matter was indefinitely postponed.

With the president, Dr. H.C. Sloggett, were present Attorney General E.P. Dole, Dr. W.L. Moore, Dr. C.B. Cooper, Mark P. Robinson and E.A. Mott-Smith, Dr. Pratt, the executive officer, and C.H. Tracy, city sanitary officer, were in attendance, also Chas. L. Hopkins as Hawaiian interpreter. Among the citizens attending were noticed David Dayton, the veteran trustee of Nuuanu cemetery, Rev. Dr. Bingham, Senator W.C. Achi, Representatives Jonah Kumaine and Henry Vida, J.L. Kaulukou, F.J. Testa, E.H.F. Wolter, Morris Keohokalole, J.A. Hughes, John Barker, W. Sea and A.H.A. Vierra.

Pastor Parker Protests.
Inspector Tracy’s report was read and interpreted, and President Sloggett called for expressions of opinion. He made it clear that such was the object of the invitation to the public. Residents near Makiki cemetery petitioned to close it. A petition from Rev. H.H. Parker was read, protesting against the closing of Kawaiahao cemetery.

Mr. Kaulukou arose with a plea to defer action with regard to Kawaiahao cemetery. No reason had been shown for stopping burials there, nor any danger to the public health from their continuance. The Board should ask the Legislature to buy a plot somewhere for the burial of the dead. He had been informed that there was half an acre of land in Kawaiahao which had not yet been used, consequently there could not be such overcrowding as had been represented.

Dr. Sloggett said that the Board would take into consideration the petition of Rev. Mr. Parker and the remarks of friend Kaulukou.

Cemetery Not Deleterious.
Mr. Kumalae said that his adoptive father had been caretaker of Kawaiahao cemetery for many years and knew where to put his hand on any part that was overcrowded. For forty years he had attended to burials there. Mr. Tracy must have got his information from hearsay, he having not been long in the country, when he said that there was no more room in Kawaiahao cemetery. The speaker began to make comparisons between Kawaiahao and Nuuanu cemeteries, but was told by the chair that Nuuanu was not then under consideration. He went on to say that the vicinity of Kawaiahao cemetery was now but little occupied by dwellings since the brewery was established there. He had been living there himself for a quarter of a century and his grandfather before him, but had never been sick until he moved away from there. Mr. Kumalae agreed with the previous speaker that the consideration of Kawaiahao cemetery should be postponed. Mr. Parker was a kama’aina and knew more about that cemetery than most people in that meeting.

Mr. Wolter stated that he had an interest both in Kawaiahao and Nuuanu cemeteries. His advice was to wait until the Legislature provided new burial places before closing the old ones. Give all those people a chance to be heard on the question of the burial of their dead.

Oppression of Poor.
Mr. Achi remarked that it was but a matter of about two months until the Legislature would meet. The members of the Legislature would give due consideration to the matter if asked. There was a cemetery down at Ewa where they charged $100 for a lot 12x12 feet. If the other cemeteries were closed it would result in the like of that, which was an oppression of the poor. There were available lots of land on both the Palama and Waikiki sides. He had land at Kalihi of which he would donate a portion for a cemetery. To Dr. Slogget’s assurance that no hasty action was contemplated, but that the meeting was called to obtain the views of the people, Mr. Achi responded that he was one of the people and spoke as much.

Dr. Bingham's Reflections.
Dr. Bingham announced that he appeared there as an individual and rejoiced in the opportunity of taking part in the expression of opinion. The attendance there would show the Board that there was a sentiment in the community. In the year 1820 a little house was made for his father at Kawaiahao. His youngest brother was buried there in 1822 and he supposed that wass the first Christian burial in Honolulu. He confessed that within the past few years, when he felt that he had but a few months, or at most years, left to him, he had often looked at that spot where his departed kindred slept. When he thought of perhaps being buried in the crater of Diamond Head or away out at Kalihi, he could appreciate the sentiment of those people. Make provision for burials elsewhere and prepare the Hawaiians gradually, so that they might not think that they were being driven out of their homes and crushed by the white man. Go about it gradually. Make a rule that no burial shall take place there of anybody who was not born in Honolulu, nor of anyone under 50 years of age not belonging to a family having a plot there.

Cemeteries Before Settlers.
Mr. Barker said he had bought a lot with the expectation that himself and his family would be buried in it. The cemeteries were there before people went to live alongside of them.

Mrs. Rose stated that she had a plot in the Catholic cemetery, where her father and her children were buried, and moreover the plot was not full. The part where her father was buried was full, but her plot was not full. Burials should not be stopped where there was room.

A.B.L. Hao stated that he was the caretaker of Pueu cemetery at Palama. Some of the graves there were nine and ten feed deep, but none were less than six feet deep. There might be one or two places where on [sic] coffin was laid upon another, but still there was a great deal of room.

Mr. Vierra said he represented the Portuguese Evangelical church, in whose plot at Makiki there had been only six burials. It had room for several hundred. There would be injustice in shutting down on burials, especially to poor people.

Mr. Kelekolia, the boy orator,” spoke against closing the cemetery near Insane Asylum. He protested against depriving thousands of natives of the privilege of being buried in the spot to which they looked forward as their last resting place. He said he had regard for the poor and not the rich in his remarks.

Mr. Kaulukou said that if all the cemeteries were to be heard from there would be no time that evening to hear all the people who would want to speak. Therefore he would move to adjourn that meeting to such time as the Board of Health might appoint.

The People Prevail.
Dr. Moore intervened with a motion that, “out of respect for the sentiments expressed at this meeting, the report of the city sanitary officer be accepted and laid on the table.”

At first the completeness of this concession to the feelings of the people did not appear to be realized. When Dr. Sloggett explained that it meant that the matter would be entirely dropped for the present, so far as the Board’s initiative was concerned, there were murmurs of gladness throughout the meeting. The motion was then carried without dissent.

“Thank you,” exclaimed Mr. Kaulukou, and “All right!” several voices in chorus.

June 16, 1969, Page (unsure of page number)
Honolulu Star Bulletin (article courtesy of Kim Kalama)

Will More Old Cemteries Give Way to High Rises?

Is the decision to lease Kamoiliili Church cemetery as a condominium site the harbinger of a high-rise building at Kawaiahao Church cemetery?

Abraham K. Piianaia, director of the Hawaiian Homes Commission, thinks so. Kawaiahao Church officials had no comment.

Piianaia is opposed to plans by Kawaiahao Church to raze the Kamoiliili Church and move the bodies of several hundred persons from the cemetery to other locations.

Kamoiliili is a branch of Kawaiahao Church.

Piianaia charged that Kawaiahao’s trustees have done a “complete turnabout” by leasing Kamoiliili to Rainbow Plaza Development, Inc., as the site for a 37 story condominium.

“Ironically,” Piianaia said, “the leaders of Kawaiahao put up a great protest a few years ago against impending legislation which would diminish the power of large land estates in Hawaii.

“What they are now doing to Kamoiliili Church and the remains of the bodies in Kamoiliili Cemetery is a complete turnabout.

“Certainly the land areas involved are not precisely the same; the principal is identical.

Perhaps within my lifetime I shall see a beautiful high rise at the mauka-waikiki corner of Punchbowl and South Queen Streets.” (The site presently is occupied by Kawaiahao Cemetery.)

Piianaia said that a high rise building on the cemetery site “could provide a much more handsome return to Kawaiahao than if all of its branch church sites were to be converted to the earning of revenue.

Piianaia said he didn’t want to criticize the trustees of Kawaiahao, or belittle the spiritual leadership of Kawaiahao.”

“I do want however,” he said, “to point out to the remaining branch churches of Kawaiahao and its members that what is happening to Kamoiliili Church should be considered and taken as a warning that they are not exempt from a similar state.”

Piianaia said he grew up in Moiliili and Kamoiliili Church “is a part of my total life.”

He said he has relatives buried there.

“Among reasons given for the change in land use,” he said, “are that the church building is unsafe for use; that there has been a lack of interest as well as a drop in attendance.

“If this is true, Kawaiahao has failed to meet its obligation to one of its branch churches.

“As a Mother Church it is now unable or unwilling to give aid and to restore strength to this, one of its several branch churches, which for many decades contributed much to making Kawaiahao the church it is.

Piianaia said the first indication he had of plans to disinter bodies at Kamoiliili came from a newspaper notice. He said he was “stunned.”

“More disturbing, however, is the announcement that the land occupied by Kamoiliili Church for over a hundred years has been leased to developers for a condominium site,” he said.

Piianaia told of the historical significance of the venerable church, which he said was once the gathering place for many Hawaiian families from Kapaakea to Palolo.

“The seriousness with which they considered the Church was something to behold,” he said. “The week-to-week affairs of the Church gave these families the opportunity to develop a cohesiveness which helped to cushion the slow but certain approach of the time when Moiliili would cease to be a native settlement, and hardly any of these families would dare to even venture a guess as to their future.”

He said that spectacular exhibitions were held at Kamoiliili, attracting Hawaiians from all over the Island. They vied for honors in choral, oratorical and philosophical presentations, …

June 27, 1940, Pg. 2
Honolulu Advertiser

New Building to Displace Old Graves in Kawaiahao

Within the next few months a modern concrete building will rise in Kawaiahao churchyard to take the place now occupied by graves of many old Hawaiian families, including descendants of the alii and many who served faithfully in governmental of- fices during the monarchy.

The past will make way for the future as Kawaiahao Church keeps pace with the many de- mands now being made upon it by erecting a Sunday school hall which will serve as a gathering place for its modern congrega- tion.

For this purpose bodies now buried in the sections to be used for the proposed building will be exhumed or disinterred and trans- ferred for burial at the Kamoiliili cemetery of the church.

Chiefs Descendants

Among those who are to be moved are the Haalelea family, descendants of the chieftains prominent in Hawaiian history; J. W. Moanauli, former member of the legislature under both the monarchy and the Territory; S.K. Kanakanui, territorial surveyor for many years; John H. Wise, former senator; W.R. Chilton, noted figure in government circles; and many other figures prom- inent in Hawaiian circles.

When many of the bodies were laid to rest, back in the last cen- tury, Honolulu was only a stop- ping place in the Pacific and lit- tle did its residents think that one day it would be a rapidly-growing cosmopolitan center.

Some Foreign Graves

Not only Hawaiians, however, are buried in the historical old grounds. Some of foreign birth have also found a peaceful rest- ing place beneath the plumeria trees which scent the air. The headstone of Joseph James Hoare, for instance, tells all who stop to gaze that he was “a native of London, England.” And there are a few American flags flying, mark- ing the resting places of soldiers who did their bit in the last World War.

But with the march of time, they must leave the grounds surround- ing the old weatherbeaten stone church.

May 7, 1971, Pg. A-8
Honolulu Star Bulletin (article courtesy of Kim Kalama)

Heirs Win Damages

Kawaiahao Church must pay four heirs $10,000 in damages for the mental distress they suffered in the disinterment of their relatives’ remains from Kamoiliili Cemetery in Moiliili.

Circuit Judge Allen R. Hawkins said each heir was entitled to $500 in special damages for pain and suffering, and $2,000 in punitive damages.

Three other defendants in the case — Rainbow Plaza Development Inc., Thomas K.H. Wong and Richard Uyehara — were held liable for nominal damages of $1 each.

THE HEIRS are Mrs. Edith Kidder, Mrs. Hannah Kam, Mrs. Rebecca Kalama and Mrs. Emily Moriyama.

There were 11 heirs bringing suit originally, but two of them have died and the others failed to appear in court to testify. They were all represented by attorney Richard Ing.

Kawaiahao owner of the 120-year-old cemetery, had the remains disinterred in 1968 and then reburied at the church so that the land could be leased to Rainbow Plaza.

The development company then built the 37-story Contessa condominium apartment on the land.

WONG AND UYEHARA were responsible for the disinterment and reburial.

Judge Hawkins ruled the company, Wong and Uyehara were not negligent but liable for going on land which was a dedicated cemetery.

The four heirs remaining in the case claimed they suffered mental and physical distress because of the manner in which Albert Bingham, hired by Kawaiahao handled the project.

They said Bingham told them that if they would not sign consents to remove the remains, the church would dig them up anyway and move them. All of them did not give their approval.

THE HEIRS also said the very fact of removing the remains to another location brought on mental suffering and in some cases physical distress.

Judge Hawkins found certain heirs “were greatly disturbed by the fact that the remains were to be interred in a common concrete vault, and refused to go to Kawaiahao Church to see for themselves what had happened to the remains of their relatives.”

Hawkins further found that “under the principles of common law, when an area of land is once dedicated as a cemetery, it is perpetually devoted” to that purpose.

Kawaiahao Church was represented by attorney Alexander Marrack; Rainbow Plaza by Wallace Fujiyama and Wilfred Watanabe, and Wong and Uyehara by David Fairbanks.

Hawkins’ decision may affect the City’s plan to widen South King Street, across from Straub Clinic, by disinterring and removing a certain number of burial plots in the cemetery.

Family Obituaries - Kawaiaha‘o Cemetery
(Partial working list of names from historic newspapers of Hawai‘i)