Historic Articles

Kawaiahao Church Wall

Kawaiahao Church Wall. The Independent

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 Independence

May 13, 1897

Voice of People Prevails to Keep Cemeteries Open

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.

The Evening Bulletin (page 6)

December 18, 1902

Will More Old Cemeteries Give Way to High Rises?

Will More Old Cemeteries 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 16, 1969, (Unsure of page number)

Honolulu Star Bulletin (article courtesy of Kim Kalama)

New Building to Displace Old Graves in Kawaiahao

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.  

June 27, 1940, Page 2

Honolulu Advertiser

Heirs Win Damages

Heirs Win Damages Kawaiahao

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.

May 7, 1971, Page A-8

Honolulu Star Bulletin (artible courtesy of Kim Kalama)