Hoʻomana Naʻauao o Hawaiʻi was the first independent Hawaiian Christian organization in the Islands. It was founded by John Kekipi Maia; he named his denomination “Hoʻomana Naʻauao,” which members translate as meaning “reasonable service.”
It started with the help of John Hawelu Poloailehua.
Poloailehua was born in Kukuihaele, Hamakua, Hawaiʻi in about 1838; at the age of 14 he moved to Honolulu. In February of the next year, when he was incapacitated by a violent fever, he asked for and received a Bible; it was placed on his chest.
He prayed while keeping his eyes closed and holding the Bible, as soon as he opened the Bible, read a verse and pledged his faith, he recovered from his illness.
April 16, 1853 (the date which Kekipi considers was the beginning of the church) is when Poloailehua, still a 15-year-old boy, started his mission work after he recovered from his illness.
He stayed in Honolulu to carry out mission work in his neighborhood where smallpox was prevalent at that time; his family was also afflicted with the illness – all died except for Poloailehua. (Inoue)
On April 16, 1881, Poloailehua met John Kekipi Maia of North Kohala and told him “Whatever secret you have within you, you must bring it out.” (Ritz)
Kekipi moved to Oʻahu and joined the Kaumakapili Church; he seemed to develop his work inside the congregation as he had in Kohala, Hawai’i.
However, in 1890, he left Kaumakapili Church, taking his followers with him. He built a meeting house on the seaside of Kālia and started his mission work as an independent group. (Inoue)
On July 31, 1897, a new church building (on Cooke Street in Kaka’ako) was sanctified and named Ke Alaula O Ka Mālamalama. With this church as a mother church, more than ten sister churches were founded on Hawaiʻi, Maui, Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi.
It was officially recognized as a religious organization on February 16, 1911 whose purposes “are purely those of religion, charity, education and general relief” and that “its main church and mission is at Koula, near King and South Streets in said Honolulu, with branch missions and churches at various places throughout the Territory of Hawaii.”
Hoʻomana Naʻauao was established on the concept of “reasonable service,” based on the passage in Romans: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Ritz)
Church members believed that Hawaiians were descended from Hebrews and Egyptians and that ancient Hawaiian religion evolved from the same source as Christianity. Teaching that the causes of illness and misfortune could be discerned after praying and fasting, the church gained many adherents among prominent individuals in the Hawaiian community.
The church emphasized repentance as a premise to salvation. In the practices of Hoʻomana Naʻauao, the importance of visions was one of the main characteristics.
Another significant characteristic of the practices of Hoʻomana Naʻauao was the opening of the Bible to a random page to see the divine will in sacred phrases on the page. (Inoue)
Some may call this “the Hawaiian Christian science,” and others say the teachings most resemble that of the Congregationalist Church. But at its simplest form, Hoʻomana Naʻahuao is a mixture of Protestant Christianity and Hawaiian. Members espouse a belief in the trinity and follow the Bible, as well as Hawaiian values. (Ritz)
It was the largest independent Hawaiian Church; several offshoot churches broke away in the 1930s and the 1940s.
Other Hoʻomana Naʻauao o Hawaii churches include Ke Kilohana oka Mālamalama in Hilo, Ka Hoku oka Malamalama, Paipaikou, Ka Nani oka Malamalama, Kohala, Ka Elele oka Malamalama, Kapoho, and Ka Mauloa oka Malamalama in Kurtistown, and Ka Lanakila oka Malamalama and Ka Lokahi oka Malamalama on the island of Lanaʻi (there were others.)