There are discussions and proposed legislation on ‘Iliahi in the legislature this year. Here is a summary of some of the reasons on how we got to where we are with Sandalwood.
Sandalwood (ʻiliahi) has been highly prized and in great demand through the ages; its use for incense is part of the ritual of Buddhism. Chinese used the fragrant heart wood for incense, medicinal purposes, for architectural details and carved objects.
Sandalwood was first recognized as a commercial product in Hawai‘i in 1791 by Captain Kendrick of the Lady Washington, when he instructed sailors to collect cargo of sandalwood. From that point on, it became a source of wealth in the islands, until it’s supply was ultimately exhausted.
Trade in Hawaiian sandalwood began as early as the 1790s; by 1805 it had become an important export item.
Sandalwood trade was a turning point in Hawai‘i, especially related to its economic structure. It moved Hawai‘i from a self-sufficient economy to a commercial economy. This started a series of other economic and export activities across the islands.
In 1811, an agreement between Boston ship captains and Kamehameha I established a monopoly on sandalwood exports, with Kamehameha receiving 25% of the profits. As trade and shipping brought Hawaiʻi into contact with a wider world, it also enabled the acquisition of Western goods, including arms and ammunition.
Kamehameha used Western cannons and guns to great advantage in his unification of the Islands and also acquired Western-style ships, buying the brig Columbia for a price of two ship loads of sandalwood in 1817.
Between about 1810 and 1820, the major item of Hawaiian trade was sandalwood. Kamehameha I rigidly maintained control of the trade until his death in 1819, at which time his son, Liholiho, took over control.
When Kamehameha I died, although Liholiho (his son and successor) should have inherited all of Kamehameha’s lands, the chiefs also wanted the revenue from the sandalwood.
Chiefs persuaded the king to give them an in on the royal sandalwood monopoly; trade continued at an accelerated rate, following Kamehameha’s death.
In America, the Panic of 1819 (the first financial crisis in the United States) made it difficult for traders to obtain sandalwood for the China trade.
However, because the Hawaiian chiefs had become enamored of items of foreign manufacture, the islands provided an open market for goods like rum, clothing, cloth, furnishings and a host of other things. Foreign traders shipped these goods to the islands, exchanging them for sandalwood, which continued to be in demand in China.
It was Hawaii’s first source of revenue and major debt. Credit secured by payment in sandalwood saddled the Hawaiian Chiefs and the Islands’ struggling economy.
In 1826, the kingdom of Hawaiʻi enacted its first written law – a sandalwood tax. Every man was ordered to deliver to the government 66 pounds of sandalwood, or pay four Spanish dollars, by September 1, 1827. Every woman older than 13 was obligated to make a 12-by-6-foot kapa cloth. The taxes were collected to reduce the staggering debt.
The common people were displaced from their agricultural and fishing duties and all labor was diverted to harvesting sandalwood. This period saw two major famines as ʻiliahi was over-harvested to the point of commercial extinction in Hawaiʻi forests.
Unfortunately, the harvesting of the trees was not sustainably managed (they cut whatever they could, they didn’t replant) and over-harvesting of ‘iliahi took place.
By 1830, the trade in sandalwood had completely collapsed. Hawaiian forests were exhausted and sandalwood from India and other areas in the Pacific drove down the price in China and made the Hawaiian trade unprofitable.
Once reported as growing on landscape scales, today, there are only remnant patches of ‘iliahi. Two places where it can still be relatively easily seen are on ‘Aiea Loop Trail in O‘ahu and an exclosure adjacent to the Kula State Forest access road on the way to Polipoli State Park.
It would be great if areas in Hawai‘i could be restored in sandalwood forests, to return this important legacy.
I have posted a number of images of some of the former Royal Residences in Hawai‘i. This is not a complete listing, nor full set of images of these palaces, retreats and residences of Hawaiian royalty.
This is a summary list of representative images to share with others.
The Iolani Palace was built in 1882 by King David Kalakaua. His successor, Queen Liliuokalani, lived there until she was deposed in 1893. The building was used as the capitol of the state of Hawaii until 1969, when it was restored and turned into a museum and state historic monument.
The Hulihee Palace was built by Governor John Adams Kuakini in 1838, and until 1916 is was a vacation home for Hawaiian royalty. It is located on Ali‘i Drive in Kailua-Kona on the Big island of Hawaii.
Queen Emma’s Summer Palace
This home summer home of Queen Emma was called “Hanaiakamalama”. You can still see it today, just off the Honolulu end of the Pali Highway.
This home in the historic capital district of Honolulu was built by John Dominis and when his son (another John Dominis) married the future Queen Liliʻuokalani it was their home. For many years it was used as the Governor’s mansion of Hawaii but today it is a museum that can be toured by the public.
Ainahau Estate in Waikiki
Ainahau was the name of the country home built on Waikiki land that was given to Princess Kaiulani when she was born. Ainahau was built by Archibald Cleghorn for Princess Likelike and his daughter Princess Kaiulani. At first it was a country home but eventually it became their full-time home. Ainahau was eventually sold to land investors and it was torn down in 1955 to make room for the Princess Kaiulani Hotel.
Keoua Hale was the palace of Princess Ruth Ke’elikōlani at 1302 Queen Emma Street in downtown Honolulu, Hawai’i. It was larger than Iolani Palace.
The Royal complex at Moku`ula was Lahaina’s “Sacred Island” situated in the middle of the 14 acre Mokuhinia Pond. Located across the street from the ocan and 505 Front Street Shopping Center (near the intersection with Shaw Street), Moku`ula was both the sacred place for the seat of government and a sanctuary for the Hawaiian Royal families.
Kaniakapupu (“the singing of the land shells”) is the now dilapidated summer palace of King Kamehameha III and his queen Kalama in upper Nu‘uanu, O‘ahu.
Prior to the missionaries arriving in the islands, the flat plain just south of the village of Honolulu was a barren, windswept dust bowl – little more than a desert. However, in the midst of this sun-parched land there was an oasis, a spring whose waters were reserved exclusively for the land’s high chiefs and chiefesses.
One such noble who frequented this pool was the chiefess Ha‘o. Eventually these waters, and the surrounding land, came to be known as Ka Wai a Ha‘o – the freshwater pool of Ha‘o.
In 1820, the first missionaries arrived in Hawai‘i, and found themselves well-accepted by royalty as well as the general populace. They were granted land at Kawaiaha‘o for the purpose of establishing their residence and church.
The missionaries, less the group left on the Big Island, landed at Honolulu on April 19, 1820. Four days later, Hiram Bingham, the leader of the group, preached the first formal Protestant sermon in the islands. Initial services were in thatched structures. Later, a more permanent church was built.
The church, constructed between 1836 and 1842, was in the New England style of the Hawaiian missionary and has been restored and altered several times since first erected. The “Kauikeaouli clock,” donated by King Kamehameha III in 1850, still tolls the hours to this day.
Revered as the Protestant “mother church” and often called “the Westminster Abbey of Hawai‘i” this structure is an outgrowth of the original Mission Church founded in Boston and is the first foreign church on O‘ahu (1820).
Within its walls the kingdom’s royalty prayed, sang hymns, were married, christened their children and finally laid in state. As the state church, it was the scene of many celebrated events associated with the Hawaiian Kingdom – inaugurations, funerals, weddings, thanksgiving ceremonies.
The “Stone Church,” as it came to be known, is in fact not built of stone, but of giant slabs of coral hewn from ocean reefs. These slabs had to be quarried from under water; each weighed more than 1,000 pounds. Natives dove 10 to 20 feet to hand-chisel these pieces from the reef, then raised them to the surface, loaded some 14,000 of the slabs into canoes and ferried them to shore.
Following five years of construction, The Stone Church was ready for dedication ceremonies on July 21, 1842. The grounds of Kawaiaha‘o overflowed with 4,000 to 5,000 faithful worshippers. King Kamehameha III, who contributed generously to the fund to build the church, attended the service.
Kawaiaha‘o Church was designed and founded by its first pastor, Hiram Bingham, my great-great-great grandfather. Hiram left the islands on August 3, 1840 and never saw the completed church. Kawaiaha‘o Church is listed on the state and national registers of historic sites.
Kawaiaha‘o Church continues to serve as a center of worship for Hawai‘i’s people, with services conducted every Sunday in Hawaiian and English. Approximately 85% of the services are in English; at least one song and the Lord’s Prayer (as a congregation) are in Hawaiian.
The image shows Kawaiaha‘o Church, as drawn by Bingham, and a centennial memorial to Hiram Bingham, mounted on its entrance wall.
(I have also uploaded several old and new images of Kawaiaha‘o Church in a folder of like name in the Photos section of my Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-T-Young/1332665638)
At the time of Captain Cook’s contact with the Hawaiian Islands the land was divided into several independent Kingdoms. By right of conquest, each King was owner of all the lands within his jurisdiction.
After selecting lands for himself, the King allotted the remaining to the warrior Chiefs who rendered assistance in his conquest. These warrior Chiefs, after retaining a portion for themselves, reallotted the remaining lands to their followers and supporters.
The distribution of lands was all on a revocable basis. What the superior gave, he was able to take away at his pleasure. This ancient tenure was in nature feudal, although the tenants were not serfs tied to the soil – they were allowed to move freely from the land of one Chief to that of another.
Under King Kamehameha III, the most important event in the reformation of the land system in Hawaii was the separation of the rights of the King, the Chiefs and the Konohiki (land agents.)
The King retained all of his private lands as his individual property; one third of the remaining land was to be for the Hawaiian Government; one third for the Chiefs and Konohiki; and one third to be set aside for the tenants, the actual possessors and cultivators of the soil.
More than 240 of the highest ranking Chiefs and Konohiki in the Kingdom joined Kamehameha III in this task. The first māhele, or division, of lands was signed on January 27, 1848; the last māhele was signed on March 7, 1848 (164-years ago, today.)
Each māhele was in effect a quitclaim agreement between the King and a Chief or Konohiki with reference to the lands in which they both claimed interests.
In each māhele for lands for the King, the Chief or the Konohiki signed an agreement: “I hereby agree that this division is good. The lands above written are for the King. I have no more rights therein.”
The remaining lands were set aside for the Chief or Konohiki and the King signed an agreement: “I hereby agree that this division is good. The lands above written are for (name of Chief or Konohiki); consent is given to take it before the Board of Commissioners to Quiet Land Titles.”
The Great Māhele itself did not convey title to land.
The high Chiefs and the lesser Konohiki were required to present their claims before the Land Commission to receive awards for the lands. Until an award for these lands was issued by the Land Commission, title to such lands remained with the government.
Even after receiving a Land Commission Award, the recipient did not acquire a free and clear title. He was still required to pay commutation to the government, in cash or by surrender of equally valuable lands (set at one third of the value of the unimproved land.)
Kamehameha III divided the lands he reserved for himself into two separate parts; the smaller portion he retained for his personal use (“Crown” lands); the larger portion he gave ‘to the Chiefs and people’ (“Government” lands.)
The lands identified and separated in 1848 as Crown lands, Government lands and Konohiki lands were all “subject to the rights of native tenants” on their respective kuleana. The Land Commission was authorized to award fee simple titles to native tenants who occupied and improved the land (and proved they actually cultivated those lands for a living.)
In the Great Māhele of 1848, of the approximate 10,000 awards, around 1,000,000-acres were reserved by King Kamehameha III as “Crown” lands, 1,500,000-acres were given by the King (as “Government” lands) to the ‘government and people’, approximately 1,500,000-acres were set aside for the Chiefs (as “Konohiki” lands) and less than 30,000-acres of land were awarded to the native tenants (Kuleana lands.)
The awarding of these completed the māhele of the lands into the Crown lands, Government lands, Konohiki lands and Kuleana lands and brought to an end the ancient system of land tenure in the Hawaiian Kingdom.