19th Century Manuscripts

In 1979, kupuna William Kapahukaniolonookainoahou Goodwin, Aletha Kaohi’s father, gave Roselle Bailey 2 handwritten books of historical information about Kaua’i, especially about the Waimea district. The books, written in the late nineteenth century by an unknown author or authors, contain stories, mele, names, and other material, much of which is unattested in any other source. They are written in a dialect of Hawaiian apparently unique to west Kaua`i and Ni`ihau.

Although many nineteenth century journals and other documents about Kaua`i have been collected and studied by scholars, relatively few of these were written by Hawaiians or in Hawaiian.

When “Uncle Willie” Goodwin gave Roselle the manuscripts, he told her to “make the words live.” She did this by choreographing and performing some of the mele at the Merrie Monarch festival among other venues. Concerned about the fragile condition of the books, Ka `Imi’s officers and directors worked with Lynn Davis, Head of the Preservation Department, University of Hawai`i at Manoa Library and contracted the department to stabilize the fragile papers.

Grants from the Hawaii Council for the Humanities, the Malie Foundation, and individual donors paid for the conservators’ work, and the books are now protected by the latest preservation technology.

To inform the public about the manuscripts and the conservation project, we have published a brochure about the manuscript project. We sent the text of one of the mele, “Ia Aloha ia no Ao Waimea”, to various Hawaiian language experts, inviting them to translate and comment on it. One of the responses forms a page of the brochure.

Download the Manuscript Brochure Below:

Inside | Outside

Because the possibility that the books’ author(s) may have been among the throng that spontaneously followed Queen Emma on her 1871 trek across Alaka`i, we presented two of the mele in our program, and set up exhibits about the manuscript at the 23rd annual E O Emalani festival on October 9, 2010. At a booth in the exhibition tent we handed out copies of the brochure, and had a sign-up list for people interested in viewing the materials. Keahi Manea, our secretary, also created a Power Point program about the project. This program ran on a computer inside the Koke`e Museum.

Our dance program comprised two versions, kahiko and auana, of “Ia Aloha ia no Ao Waimea”, and the hula pahu “Noenoe”, which travels the route taken by Queen Emma on her trek through Koke`e.

Both PBS and Hawaii Stream filmed the festival. You can view Hawaii Stream’s footage on several websites. Presumably PBS will be using its material for a documentary. We have no news on when this might be broadcast, so watch your local PBS affiliate for details, or check this website. When and if we receive information on possible broadcasts, we shall post it.