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Ke Kumu Aupuni: The Foundation of Hawaiian Nationhood

UPDATED: 5 January 2023 – purchase online:

Image of cover and inside pages of Ke Kumu Aupuni: The Foundation of Hawaiian Nationhood.
Preview of the cover and inside pages of Ke Kumu Aupuni: The Foundation of Hawaiian Nationhood.

Ke Kumu Aupuni: The Foundation of Hawaiian Nationhood embodies a monumental history of Hawaiʻi, from the beginnings and political rise of Kamehameha I, the negotiations and battles that would come to unify Hawai‘i’s islands and kingdoms, and the development of a single government that would endure, to be ruled by his son and heir, Liholiho, Kamehameha II. This narrative offered in both Hawaiian and English is an invaluable catalog of data about Hawai‘i, Hawaiians, and the nature of national and cultural identity in the Pacific.


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Ke Kumu Aupuni: The Foundation of Hawaiian Nationhood presents a compelling story written by an extraordinary man during a transformative time in Hawai‘i. This book brings into new form the history that Samuel Mānaiakalani Kamakau wrote for the Hawaiian people in the native language newspapers from 1865 to 1871.

That six-year effort was part of Kamakau’s intention to educate the people of his nation through a detailed history of their land, much of which was unknown by the living generations in that time of great change.

Early European arrival to Hawai'i
Port DʻHanarourou by Louis Choris, 1816
Mānoa Heritage Center

This book is the first third of Kamakau’s historical presentation, encompassing all of his columns from 1866–1868. Here he recounts a critical century of Hawaiian history, from the birth of Kamehameha I, detailing his lifetime of conquest and rule over Hawai‘i as a nation, and on through the reign of his son and heir, Kalanikualiholiho, Kamehameha II, until his death in London in 1824.

Kamehameha I (Tammeamea), by Louis Choris, 1816.
Collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art.

This portion of Kamakau’s history is presented bilingually here, with modern Hawaiian spelling alongside an English translation in parallel alignment. The main goal of this endeavor is to provide people today with access, in both languages, to Hawaiian history through the extensive knowledge and expertise of Kamakau. An important methodology used in our process of translation is the effort to embody Kamakau’s own quality of language and style of writing as it appeared in the historical context of his time. Hopefully modern readers in both languages can get the valuable information he provided and also come to know some of the character and voice of the author.

Un Temple des les Iles Sandwich (Temple in the Sandwich Islands) 1816-17. Collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art.

This serial history written by Kamakau has been tilled and mined for over a century and translated in bits to collect up the data those writings contain. While most of that information is included in the four English books published in his name—Ruling Chiefs of Hawai‘i, Ka Po‘e Kahiko, The Works of the People of Old, and Tales and Traditions of the People of Old—those books do not offer the historical details in the sequence and context in which he presented them. Until now, no project has aimed to bring forth the full form of his actual works with the intention to portray his status as a historian, his manner of arranging information, and the style in which he recounted history for his own people. Kamakau was an expert in his time, widely respected as a scholar by his contemporaries, and he is presented here in that light through this method of translation.

Inside Cover Artwork for Ke Kumu Aupuni

📺 Webinar with Hawaii Book and Music Festival

Please find below the video recorded on Facebook with Hawaii Book and Music Festival – if the video below is blocked please use the link to their page to watch the webinar.