Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives (Mission Houses) collaborated with Awaiaulu Foundation to digitize, transcribe, translate and annotate over 200-letters written by 33-Chiefs.
The letters, written between 1823 and 1887, are assembled from three different collections: the ABCFM Collection held by Harvard’s Houghton Library, the HEA Collection of the Hawaii Conference-United Church of Christ and the Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society.
These letters provide insight into what the Ali‘i (Chiefs) were doing and thinking at the time, as well as demonstrate the close working relationship and collaboration between the aliʻi and the missionaries.
In this letter, Harriet Nahi‘ena‘ena, who briefly describes her devotion to the word of God and updates Stewart about the passing of Henrietta Haletii and Kekauōnohi’s marriage to Keali‘iahonui.
Nāhiʻenaʻena was the child of Kamehameha I and his most sacred wife, Keōpūolani, and was the younger sister of Liholiho and Kauikeaouli.
Charles and Harriet Stewart were teachers sent to Hawaiʻi by the ABCFM with the second company of missionaries.
“Lahaina May 31 1828”
“Very great love to you Mr. & Mrs. Stewart,”
“I have a thought to communicate to you – In former times when you dwelt in the midst of us, the word of God had not taken deep root in this land.”
“But now the reality of the wonderful power of God here, is distinctly to be seen. I greatly exalt in the witness of the blessings received by my own soul. On this point I cannot write more fully at present.”
“I have to make known to you the death of your former pupil Henrietta Haletii. She was fully prepared for the house common to us all – the grave.”
“I have also to say that Kekauonohi is married to Keariiahonui.”
“Most affectionate are my salutations to you two Mr. & Mrs. Stewart, & to all the people of God, both male & female”
Here’s a link to the original letter, its transcription, translation and annotation:
On October 23, 1819, the Pioneer Company of American Protestant missionaries from the northeast US, led by Hiram Bingham, set sail on the Thaddeus for the Sandwich Islands (now known as Hawai‘i.) They arrived in the Islands and anchored at Kailua-Kona on April 4, 1820.
Over the course of a little over 40-years (1820-1863 – the “Missionary Period”,) about 180-men and women in twelve Companies served in Hawaiʻi to carry out the mission of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in the Hawaiian Islands.
One of the earliest efforts of the missionaries, who arrived in 1820, was the identification and selection of important communities (generally near ports and aliʻi residences) as “stations” for the regional church and school centers across the Hawaiian Islands.
Hawaiian Mission Houses’ Strategic Plan themes note that the collaboration between Native Hawaiians and American Protestant missionaries resulted in the
- The introduction of Christianity;
- The development of a written Hawaiian language and establishment of schools that resulted in widespread literacy;
- The promulgation of the concept of constitutional government;
- The combination of Hawaiian with Western medicine, and
- The evolution of a new and distinctive musical tradition (with harmony and choral singing).