Weather Articles in the Hawaiian Language Newspapers
The Hawaiian language newspapers covered a wide range of current and historical events. The newspapers served as valuable repository of traditional knowledge and also local and foreign news. The newspapers also created a space for dialogue among the people throughout the islands, inviting them to send in stories and current events occurring throughout the island chain. Weather events were one aspect of local news that received considerable attention. Over a period of 6 months, the digitized Hawaiian language newspapers were searched for articles that referred to weather events, climate patterns and environment in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific Region from 1834 to about 1917. Because there is no universal word for weather in the Hawaiian language, a word list was created, and then word searches and manual scanning was begun. More than 4,000 articles were found, and content was categorized and cross-indexed in a database format. A valuable resource for insight to language, cultural views, and history, we are working to find ways of making these articles and the knowledge they contain readily accessible.
Hāʻao rain of Waiʻōhinu, Hawaiʻi. Hāʻao rain of Waiʻōhinu, Hawaiʻi.
Part 1 Part 2
Ka Ua Hāʻao o Waiʻōhinu Ka Ua Hāʻao o Waiʻōhinu
Part 1 Part 2
Click on the images below to view articles from Hawaiian language newspapers concerning various weather occurrences, and ocean and volcanic activity.
Ka Makaainana Ka Nupepa Kuokoa Ka Makaainana
Snowfall Volcanic Activity Strong Winds and Flooding
February 17, 1864 September 2, 1871 November 30, 1867
Ka Nupepa Kuokoa Ka Nupepa Kuokoa Ka Nupepa Kuokoa
The conclusions below work towards framing an understanding of a Hawaiian world view of weather events as portrayed in the article above titled "Na Mea Hou o Waihee a me Kona Mau Aoao."
A Close Connection to the Land
In the worldview tied to the land, Hawaiians keenly observed the features of the land and the nuances of climate. Winds and rains of a place were each given specific names depending on their nature and were used often in weather articles. Although some names of winds and rain are seen in multiple locales, most are in a particular area, like the famous Kanilehua rain of Hilo or the Pōpōkapa rain of Nuʻuanu. In this article, “Na Mea Hou ma Waihee a me Kona Mau Aoao”, the author compares the force of a strong wind that struck Waiheʻe to that of the Kona, a well-known wind from the South West whose intense gusts are often accompanied by heavy rain, flooding, and rough seas. The meanings contained in these wind and rain names often reflect their nature or describe of their action upon the plants or land.
One Word, Many Meanings
The poetic nature of Hawaiian daily speech lent itself well to newspaper articles, where lines from poetry often supported the thoughts of the writer. The last line in the column above states, “ke kapakahi nei Manuia, o Keoki ka moku,” or, “Manuia is tilting, Keoki is the ship.” “Manuia,” a name, also translates to mean “bruised,” or “broken,” in reference to the harm inflicted by the storm. “Keoki,” used as the name of a ship, could translate meaning the “obliteration,” like the plants being damaged by the storm. “Moku,” translated above as “ship,” also means “severed,” or “broken in two,” like the storm’s effect on the trees and branches.
A Hawaiian Way of Seeing Data
Of the weather articles found in the Hawaiian newspapers, the vast majority were filled with qualitative data; rarely was much quantitative data documented. A weather event was understood by the vivid descriptions that were recorded; numbers and measurements were not often seen. In the article to the left, the intensity of a flood is brought to life by the author’s use of personification and metaphor. The imagery used to illustrate the strength of the flood is almost poetical in the way it attempts to paint a picture in the mind of the reader.