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Translated and Descriptive Names 

Cover Image: Masthead of Ka Nupepa Kuokoa published in November, 1861.

Aloha Nūhou Monday!

In an earlier post we talked about John Thomas Waterhouse who Hawaiians called either Walakahausi or Halewai. Walakahausi is the Hawaiianization (transliteration) of Waterhouse. Halewai is “water-house” translated into Hawaiian. There are many examples of translated names as well as names describing a feature of the given person.

  • Businessman John Thomas Waterhouse starts off being called Halewai, or “waterhouse,” but perhaps because halewai also means jail or prison, as time goes by he mostly is known as Walakahauki.

Image: “Hale Kuai,” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, November, 1861, p. 4






At this shop, there are all sorts of merchandise for men, women, and children; new goods from California.


People who come and shop here will see the Camel for free. The flag of the

Hawaiian Nation

will be always be placed at the door of this


(Kuokoa, 11/1861, p. 4)

1Although “nalo meli” is simply “honeybee” in English, the name of Waterhouse’s shop in English was actually “Bee Hive.”
  • Missionary Richard Armstrong was a member of the fifth company sent by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He was called Limaikaika which is a direct translation of “arm” and “strong.”
  • Politician Robert Shingle was called Lopaka W. Pilihale. Pili being the grass often used for traditional house thatching. Pili hale would come to also mean shingle.

Image: “Robert Shingle,” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, November 4, 1910, p. 6

  • Businessman and politician Lincoln Loy McCandless was known for drilling for artesian wells. He was known as ʻEliwai, or “to dig for water.”

Image: “Kuahaua Holo Elele Lahui…,” Ke Aloha Aina, September 20, 1918, p. 3

  • Dr. Gerrit Parmele Judd was a member of the third company sent by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He served in many different roles, but to the Hawaiians, he was most often known as just Kauka, or Doctor.
  • German physician Dr. William Hillebrand was known as Hilibarani or Kauka Makaʻāinana, or the people’s doctor.
  • Dr. Hugo Stangenwald was known as Kauka Minuteʻole, or Dr. “Not-a-Minute,” because of the speed in which ailments were cured after his treatment.
  • Dr. Robert W. Wood was known as Kauka Pōʻalomaka, or doctor who scooped out an eyeball.
  • Politician E. J. Smith was known as Kamika Kelepona, or Telephone Smith. This sounds like a curious name until you see that he was superintendent for the Hawaii Telephone Company.
  • British playwright William Shakespeare can be seen in the Hawaiian language newspapers as Uilama Hoʻonāueueihe, literally “shake” and “spear.”
  • British politician William Ewart Gladstone was known as Pōhakuhauʻoli, literally “glad” and “stone.” There have been a good number of Hawaiians who have been lauded as “ka Pōhakuhauʻoli o Hawaiʻi,” like John Edward Bush, Joseph Mokuʻōhai Poepoe, Joseph Nāwahī, and David Kalauokalani.
  • Industrialist James Campbell was known as ka ʻOnamiliona or the Millionaire.


If you are researching a person who lived in Hawaiʻi, knowing the different ways in which they were referred to will only add to what you may find, especially if they appear in the Hawaiian language newspapers.

How many other of this type of translated names do you know?

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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