The first declaration of the creation of a law-making body in Hawai‘i is contained in a proclamation by King Kamehameha III dated October 7, 1829.
It named the King and regent and ten chiefs as entitled to sit in Council. This council was the forerunner of the legislature proper. Previous to its establishment the laws were mostly customary, many having their origin in the edicts of Ali‘i. (Lydecker)
On October 7, 1829, King Kamehameha III issued a Proclamation “respecting the treatment of Foreigners within his Territories.” It was prepared in the name of the King and the Chiefs in Council: Kauikeaouli, the King; Gov. Boki; Kaahumanu; Gov. Adams Kuakini; Manuia; Kekūanāoʻa; Hinau; ʻAikanaka; Paki; Kīnaʻu; John ‘Īʻi and James Kahuhu.
In part, he stated, “If any man shall transgress any of these Laws, he is liable to the penalty, – the same for every Foreigner and for the People of these Islands: whoever shall violate these Laws shall be punished.”
It continues with, “This is our communication to you all, ye parents from the Countries whence originate the winds; have compassion on a Nation of little Children, very small and young, who are yet in mental darkness; and help us to do right and follow with us, that which will be for the best good of this our Country.”
In Hiram Bingham’s book, Twenty-one Years in the Sandwich Islands, Bingham added a footnote addressing the “Countries whence originate the winds,” saying, “This passage … evidently solicits wise and mature counsels from men of countries to the north-east, whence come the trade winds, or figuratively whence come their frequent commotions, after the adoption of the Christian religion.”
“It was the thought of Kaahumanu, and widely different from what might once have issued from her insulted majesty. Her forbearance was very great towards foreigners and especially those employed by high powers.” (Bingham)
We tend to identify the people from the “Countries whence originate the winds” as the foreigners, more commonly referenced as haole. Most Hawaiian dictionaries define haole as foreigners; some also suggest (such as Malo) that haole refers to white people.
But according to the Hawaiian law, the status of haole can change – from haole to kanaka maoli.
In 1846 the native Hawaiian government under Kamehameha III made the intentions clear: “Section III. All persons born within the jurisdiction of this kingdom, whether of alien foreigners, of naturalized or of native parents, and all persons born abroad of a parent native of this kingdom, and afterwards coming to reside in this, shall be deemed to owe native allegiance to His Majesty. (1846 Statute Laws of His Majesty Kamehameha III, Article I, Chapter V, Section III)
The law allowed to naturalization, “Section X. Any alien foreigner … may, after a residence of one year in this kingdom, apply to his excellency the governor of the island of Oahu, at Honolulu, for permission to become naturalized …” (1846 Statute Laws of His Majesty Kamehameha III, Article I, Chapter V, Section X)
The Law goes on to state, “Section XIII. Every foreigner so naturalized, shall be deemed to all intents and purposes, a native of the Hawaiian Islands – be amenable only to the laws of this kingdom, and to the authority and control thereof – be entitled to the protection of said laws … .” (1846 Statute Laws of His Majesty Kamehameha III, Article I, Chapter V, Section XIII)
Words matter … and the words are clear; a closer look at the wording of the 1846 law (the Hawaiian text and subsequent translation of that text) clearly state that a haole (foreigner) can become kanaka maoli (a native of Hawai‘i). Following is the operative line in the law and then its translation,
“E manaoia kela haole keia haole hoohiki pela, ua lilo oia ma ke ano pili i na hana a pau, i kanaka maoli o Hawaii nei”.
“Every foreigner [haole] so naturalized, shall be deemed to all intents and purposes, a native of the Hawaiian Islands [kanaka maoli o Hawaii nei]”.
The above statement in the 1846 Statute Laws of His Majesty Kamehameha III, Chapter V, Article I, Section XIII was carried into the 1859 Civil Code: “428. The Minister of the Interior, with the approval of the King, shall have the superintendence and direction of the naturalization of foreigners.” (1859 Civil Code, Title 2, Article VIII, Section 428)
“Section 432. Every foreigner so naturalized, shall be deemed to all intents and purposes a native of the Hawaiian Islands … and to the authority and control thereof, be entitled to the protection of said laws, and be no longer amenable to his native sovereign while residing in this Kingdom, nor entitled to resort to his native country for protection or intervention.”
“He shall be amenable, for every such resort, to the pains and penalties annexed to rebellion by the Criminal Code. And every foreigner so naturalized, shall be entitled to all the rights, privileges and immunities of an Hawaiian subject.” (1859 Civil Code, Title 2, Article VIII, Section 432)
A Hawaiian citizen or subject is someone that has the political status of being a Hawaiian national. And it’s not limited to the native race or the aboriginal blood. (Keanu Sai)
If annexation did not happen, today descendants of Hawaiʻi-born or foreign-born naturalized Hawaiian citizens (with no proof of later naturalization to another nation) are still Hawaiian subjects, as their predecessors were in the Kingdom era. (Keanu Sai)
‘Nationality’ means the legal bond between a person and a State and does not indicate the person’s ethnic origin. Everyone has the right to a nationality. (European Convention on Nationality)
At one time, jus sanguinis (right of blood) was the sole means of determining nationality in Asia and Europe (where it is still widespread in Central and Eastern Europe.) An individual belonged to a family, a tribe or a people, not to a territory. It was a basic tenet of Roman law.
Jus soli (right of the soil,) also known as birthright citizenship, is a right by which nationality or citizenship can be recognized to any individual born in the territory of the related state.
At times, exceptions limit citizenship, typically when a child was born to a parent in the diplomatic or consular service of another state, on a mission to the state in question or a child born to enemy forces engaged in hostile occupation of the country’s territory.
One of the earliest laws in Hawaiʻi dealt with citizenship; it was part of King Kamehameha III’s Statute Laws 1845-1846. The Chapter for that law was titled: “Of Subjects and Foreigners” and the specific Article was labeled “Aliens, Denizens and Natives.”
Section III of that law noted: “All persons born within the jurisdiction of this kingdom, whether of alien foreigners, of naturalized or of native parents, and all persons born abroad of a parent native of this kingdom, and afterwards coming to reside in this, shall be deemed to owe native allegiance to His Majesty. All such persons shall be amenable to the laws of this kingdom as native subjects.”
All persons born abroad of foreign parents, shall, unless duly naturalized, be deemed aliens, and treated as such, pursuant to the laws. (Ka Huli Ao Digital Archives – Punawaiola-org)
Hawaiʻi followed the Anglo-American common law rule of “jus soli;” those born in the country and subject to its jurisdiction are citizens. Subsequent interpretation of the laws and practices affirmed who were Hawaiian citizens and what rights and obligations they possessed.
In 1850, HW Whitney, born in Hawaiʻi of foreign parents, asked the Minister of the Interior, John Young II, about his status. The question was referred to Asher B Bates, legal adviser to the Government, who replied that …
“not only the Hawaiian Statutes but the Law of Nations, grant to an individual born under the Sovereignty of this Kingdom, an inalienable right, to all of the rights and privileges of a subject.” (Hanifin)
In 1856, the Kingdom’s Supreme Court decided Naone v. Thurston, recognizing that persons born in Hawaiʻi of foreign parents were Hawaiian subjects.
On January 21, 1868, the Minister of the Interior for the Hawaiian Kingdom, Ferdinand Hutchison, stated the criteria for Hawaiian nationality:
“In the judgment of His Majesty’s Government, no one acquires citizenship in this Kingdom unless he is born here, or born abroad of Hawaiian parents (either native or naturalized,) during their temporary absence from the kingdom, or unless having been the subject of another power, he becomes a subject of this kingdom by taking the oath of allegiance.”
Subsequent laws through the Republic, Territory and State provide that “All persons born or naturalized in the Hawaiian Islands, and subject to the jurisdiction of the Republic, are citizens thereof.”
A lot of haole (foreigners) were born in the Islands or became naturalized citizens, or are descendants of such. By laws and practice, they, too, are Hawaiian citizens … history and the laws related to Hawaiian citizen status are clear and unambiguous.
In 1893, all Hawaiian citizens lost their nation … Hawaiian citizens with varying ethnicities. As noted by Keanu Sai, “Hawai‘i was a country of laws and nationality and not necessarily a specific race.”