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Bicentennial of Printing in Hawaiʻi

Cover Image: Masthead of Ka Nupepa Kuokoa published on November 10, 1905.

Aloha Nūhou Monday!

While the first Hawaiian language newspaper, Ka Lama Hawaii, began its run on February 14, 1834, printing had already been going on in earnest for over ten years prior. The first pages came of the press 200 years ago on January 7, 1822.

Image: Plaque commemorating the first printing done in Hawaiʻi. It stands today in front of the printing house on the grounds of the Hawaiian Mission Houses.

Simeon Kahelemauna Nawaa wrote his history “Kenekuria Umi-kumamaiwa ame Kana Mau Hana Kamahao”1 which was serialized in Ka Nupepa Kuokoa. It ran from February 10, 1905 to July 27, 1906. In the following excerpt he describes the scene of the first printing.

Image: Excerpt from “Kenekuria Umi-kumamaiwa ame Kana Mau Hana Kamahao,” Simeon K. Nawaa. Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, November 10, 1905, p. 3.

1“The Nineteenth Century and Its Wondrous Endeavors”

On January 7, 1822, occurred the first printing here in Hawaiʻi. When the very first primer “Pi-A-Pa” of eight pages in length was printed, Governor Cox (Keʻeaumoku II) was one there who gave assistance. Also present was the king and his kaukaualiʻi watching this thing which was wondrous to them, and as a result, the desire to seek knowledge was established once again among the aliʻi and makaʻāinana.

(Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, January 9, 1899, p. 1)

Image: Portrait of Simeon Kahelemauna Nawaa. Honolulu Star-Bulletin, October 30, 1947, p. 1.

Image: Ka Lama Hawaii, March 28, 1834. This is the front page of the seventh issue of the newspaper. It features a description of the horse and a print from a woodblock cut by Alonzo Chapin.

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