The first Hawaiian word written is ‘Hamaite’ – it was spoken to Captain Cook at the time he made contact with the Islands and he wrote it in his journal. It was made in reference to iron. Some suggest it refers to Hematite (ferric oxide – a mineral form of iron oxide – that is Hematita in Spanish.) However, others suggest ‘Hamaite’ is actually a Hawaiian expression of He maita‘i – good.
“(T)hey had never been … acquainted with any of our commodities except iron; which, however, it was plain, they had only heard of, or had known it in some small quantity brought to them at some distant period. … They asked for it by the name of hamaite”. So, it appears evident, before Cook’s contact with the islands, the Hawaiian already had, used and wanted more iron – to make tools and weapons (principally to shape into knives.) Did they first find it a flotsam? Or, maybe the Spanish made contact with the Islands centuries before Cook.