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Hawaiian language columns in English newspapers

Cover Image: Masthead of The Pacific Commercial Advertiser published on July 2, 1856. 

English language newspapers often featured a column or two in Hawaiian. The Pacific Commercial Advertiser for instance, dedicated an entire page. The PCA states in its inaugural issue:

Image: “The Hawaiian Language,” The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, July 2, 1856, p. 1.

The Hawaiian Language.—A portion of each weekly issue will be printed in the native language, in a separate edition, and the more important foreign and domestic news will be thus given. Articles intended to encourage industry and an improvement in the domestic and social habits of the native race, will be prepared by persons will [sic] fitted for the task.

(Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 7/2/1856, p. 1)

Ka Hae Hawaii observes:

Image: “Ka Hoku Loa,” Ka Hae Hawaii, July 2, 1856, p. 75.


This is a new newspaper which has appeared on the 2nd of July. H. M. Whitney is the publisher. Some copies are only in English, while others are in Hawaiian on the last page….

(Hae Hawaii, 7/9/1856, p. 75)

Image: Pacific Commercial Advertiser, July 2, 1856, p. 4. [The version with the Hawaiian language page, “Ka Hoku Loa.”]

Image: Pacific Commercial Advertiser, July 2, 1856, p. 4. [The version with “The Pacific Whalemen’s Shipping List.”]

Image:Ka Hoku Loa o Hawaii,” The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, July 2, 1856, p. 4

Ka Hoku Loa

o Hawaii.

Honolulu, July 2, 1856.

Aloha to you all, O Friends living in the towns, the country sides, the valleys, and on the shores from Hawaiʻi to Kauaʻi. Much Aloha to you all. Today the dawn of the Hawaiian Morning Star [Hōkū Loa] will open; it is a candle that will light up the interior of your homes, and spread among all of you the knowledge of the industries, the endeavors, and the words of the knowledgeable ones of foreign lands.

In ancient times, before the time of Kamehameha, and Wākea, these are the only lands known by your ancestors. There were ancient lands, as there are today, but they did not know of them. There were no haole living here who would tell them of the foreign lands; there was no printer who would spread the word by means of stamped tiny letters. Of tales and stories of ancient times, and of foreign lands. There were no newspapers to report of wars, and of the toppling of nations. There was just ignorance. Your nation alone was what was known by your ancestors.

These days it is different. You have more knowledge than your ancestors. God’s leaders come and speak of the truth about the Savior in the Bible. The farmer comes and shows you how to farm sugarcane, corn, wheat, coffee, and fruiting trees, so that you grow rich, and perhaps you will become truly powerful like the people of foreign lands. Some of you are putting in great effort without being lazy, and those people live well-off, in peace, and prosperous. And alas for some people! They do not want to work at all. They idly enjoy themselves while growing poor, sick, and then perishing. Is this not the reason that Hawaiians are decreasing, and are nearly dying out?

Hear me, O You enlightened Hawaiians. Do you not motivate your own selves in this idle living? Study and increase your knowledge of the teachings and the words of wise ones of foreign lands. If that is what you desire, read the Hae Hawaii, and read this new thing, Ka Hoku Loa o Hawaii. The Hae Hawaii is printed at a loss by the government, so that it can be obtained by all readers. But Ka Hoku Ao Hawaii [sic] is a haole paper that prints news from foreign lands and will cost more. But this is how it differs, it will offer news from foreign lands, and speak of the knowledge of other lands.

Therefore listen to my idea:

This is it, I will publish on Thursday every week from the first of this July, a newspaper in English and Hawaiian; three sides in English and one side in Hawaiian. This is what will be printed within:

  1. The news printed in English will be covered in Hawaiian, so that Hawaiians may understand the thinking of the haole.
  2. The new endeavors carried out in this archipelago, so that those living in Hawaiʻi will know what is being done on Kauaʻi and Oʻahu.
  3. News from foreign lands: from America, England, France, Russia, China, California, and other places; so that you will really know what the haole are reading with enjoyment, and thus you can read it and become educated.
  4. The landing of all the foreign ships as well as the Hawaiian ships will be something that will be printed.
  5. Printed will be announcements by merchants selling their wares so that those unfamiliar with them can quickly acquire what they desire when offloaded.
  6. Printed will be the newly enacted laws, so that you know your rights under the King and the Government.


All of these things will be printed in this new newspaper.

What do you all think? Do you want a paper like that? Do you want to increase your knowledge and become intelligent and rich?

Ask yourselves, “What is the cost of this new thing?” This is it. The cost is same for the haole and Hawaiians. They will pay six dollars ($6) for 52 issues in a year. So too will the Hawaiians. However, should someone want to subscribe to this paper but cannot pay $6, they can get together with a friend and each of them pay three dollars for one subscription. This paper cannot be distributed at a cost below six dollars. Therefore, think carefully, O You who desires knowledge and fends off ignorance; those who want to know the ways of the haole, and who want to become wise and respected, think carefully, perhaps you are able to pay six dollars for this new thing. I verify that if you want this thing, and your read it carefully, along with your family, you will acquire much benefits. And should those who read this announcement want to subscribe to the Hoku Loa o Hawaii, they may pay six dollars to one of those mentioned below and they will receive 52 issues of the paper per year sent to the post master with the name of the paper’s subscriber.

These are the people who take payments.

Mr. Shipmann [Mī Kipimana] of Kaʻū, Hawaiʻi.
Mr. Lyman [Mī Laimana] of Hilo, Hawaiʻi.
Mr. Lyons [Mī Laiana] of Waimea, Hawaiʻi.
Mr. L. L. Torbert [Mī L. L. Tobata] of Makawao, Maui.
Mr. C. S. Bartow [Mī C. S. Bato], Harbor Master of Lahaina, Maui.
Dr. Smith [Kauka Kamika] of Kōloa, Kauaʻi.

And for those who come here to Honolulu, and want a subscription, they should give their money to me [? to him], and that will suffice; the paper will be delivered to them to their place. With aloha and regards.

Henry M. Whitney [Heneri M. Wini].

(Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 7/2/1856, p. 4)

The Hawaiian language page in the Pacific Commercial Advertiser continued from July 2, 1856 to September 18, 1856. On its last appearance, Whitney addresses the readership saying that the Hawaiian language page would discontinue until the following year when a faster printing press from America was to arrive. At that point if 200 subscribers signed up he would restart printing the Hoku Loa weekly at $4 per year.1

1Ka Hoku Loa o Hawaii did not seem to make a reappearance under Whitney as planned.

This post is part of He Aupuni Palapala: Preserving and Digitizing the Hawaiian Language Newspapers, a partnership between Bishop Museum and Awaiaulu with assistance from Kamehameha Schools. Mahalo nui loa to Hawaii Tourism Authority for their support. Learn more about this project here.

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