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Hawaiian Nationalist Press

Helen G. Chapin, Courtesy of the Hawaiian Historical Society

An event of 1861 received little notice at the time but was to have a lasting influence -- the birth of the first Hawaiian nationalist newspaper.

The first Hawaiian newspaper appeared in 1834 but was produced by American Protestant missionaries. In 1861, Chief David Kalākaua backed Ka Hoku o Ka Pakipika, "The Star of the Pacific." This was the start of a press produced entirely by Native Hawaiians. Editors and printers were prominent and educated men and women, the men trained at Lahainaluna School on Maui, the Kamehameha School for Boys, and on other newspapers, and the women learning on the job with editor-husbands. Kalākaua, who sponsored a number of journals, was affectionately called "Editor King" by his people.

The newspapers took up such topics as the decline of the native population, the need for Hawaiian sovereignty, the value of the monarchy, and issues of land and water. They covered news from home and abroad, wrote up descriptions of the culture and customs of the land, and promoted the use of the Hawaiian language.

Ka Hoku was the forerunner of some sixty papers, including: Ke Aloha Aina, "The Hawaiian Patriot"; Holomua Hawai‘i, "Hawaiian Progress"; and Ka Lahui Hawai‘i, "The Voice of the Nation". Their descendants are the Hawaiian newspapers of today, like the Native Hawaiian, produced by Alu Like, and Ka Wai Ola o OHA,"The Living Waters of OHA".