A Call For Action

5 of many fields of relevant knowledge found throughout the Hawaiian newspapers:

  • Poetry, literature and histories from ancient times, held in memory well into the era of literacy.
  • Accounts and opinions about historical events here and abroad during the times of the events.
  • Documentation of weather, environment, fish stocks, cultivation norms, market goods, etc.
  • Descriptions of cultural practices, from healing and cooking to fishing methods and worship.
  • Govt. and public discourse about Hawaiian society through continual adaptation and change. 


An Analogy

Imagine that a hill in your neighborhood was always understood to be a man-made mound "from before" but little was known about it. Folks had dug inside and found things, but it was unclear whether it was an old dump site or a treasure trove. Now we've excavated it, and found it to be a 5-storey library. It has more native-language material than the rest of the Pacific combined, and more than was printed in all the native languages of North and South America.

For nearly a century folks have poked around in the dark interior, rare researchers and lively language teachers, but in the last 10 years Hoʻolaupaʻi illuminated the entire first floor and serious study has begun. Findings have changed what we know about Hawaiʻi's past by quantifying the amount of unexplored data and verifying the quality of its content as an intentional national repository of knowledge.

Initial research has proven it to be an extensive archive of ancient and modern cultural information embedded in a rich cache of insider detail about the history and people of these islands. It documents their perspectives on their own land and the world beyond as Hawaiian society moved from kingdom to constitutional monarchy, through overthrow, provisional government, republic, and well into territorial status. Culture, language and science data have been extracted for analysis and new information is continually coming to light. The ʻIke Kūʻokoʻa project is now illuminating the next two floors of this "library," by making the collection searchable, and the material is exciting. It all needs to be sorted and interpreted, but it is clearly an invaluable asset for any field connected to Hawaiʻi's past or present.











Steering a course of re-connecting history and applying knowledge

This endeavor, restoring and reconnecting over a century of history, is too large and important for any person or group to fully operationalize it. It calls for Hawaiʻi to embrace it, guide it, and collectively anticipate the outcome, for it entails unpacking the historical narrative of Hawaiʻi and its world through most of the 19th and 20th centuries. As such, the project relates to everyone in Hawaiʻi and beyond, both as Hawaiʻi's history and as a documentary record for this part of the globe, a slice of the world record that has been largely inaccessible for a century and more.

Ideally, a steering committee should be established that can invest in shaping:

1 — the form of the undertaking,

2 — the placement of the effort and its production

3 — the means through which it is supported.

Awaiting the advent of a steering committee, we offer a proposal:

Hawaiian Language Newspaper Institute

Librarians with IT knowledge and organizational vision

Computer programmers to frame and implement the organizational goals

Researchers to identify and assemble material in fields of knowledge, i.e., regions, cultural practice, economy, politics, world news, literature, etc.

Translators to begin tackling and disseminating

Incentive funding (competitive) for programs that work to utilize and articulate emerging data from the cache into existing curriculum, textbooks, business plans, public promotions, teacher training, scholarships here and abroad, etc.

Executive Director to organize internal function and to extend liaisons with University departments, other academic institutions, public entities and government agencies.

Administrative Assistant/Secretary to maintain institutional operations.

Comptroller to maintain fiscal responsibility and accountability.


An Institute could fulfill its role within a bounded time frame of perhaps 5-10 years. The role of the Institute would be to develop an infrastructure that provides ongoing access to original and translated material. This process would work to reconnect and articulate the information from Hawaiian newspapers with the huge cache of Hawaiian and English-language archival manuscript material in the islands and elsewhere. Once the infrastructure is placed within or integrated into contemporary resource systems, along with at least initial organization of original data and available translated material, the Institute's work could be considered done.


This proposal is a general idea of what would facilitate the development of both content and infrastructure for rearticulating the dormant cache of information. The scale of operations, the internal structure, the funding support, and the pace/timespan of operation are totally open-ended. Placement of the Institute, whether free-standing or within an existing institution, would be part of the guidance that the initiative requires.


Technology - Needs and Benefits

Hawaiian newspapers were the gold standard in public communication technology in the 19th and early 20th centuries, providing a platform for royals and regular citizens to be heard and informed. This early “social network” has been reanimated through the Awaiaulu public transcription project, building a new international community of almost 3,000 like-minded laborers wiping the accumulated dust from the pages of the newspapers while also connecting people from eight- to 80-year-olds from ʻAiea and Anaheim to Amsterdam and Australia. Volunteering years worth of time to transcription, this small army also engaged in an unintentional computer training program, learning to download, blog, manage files and myriad other computer skills. New connections were made and old bonds strengthened in a group of energetic community members devoted to preserving and expanding Hawaiian literary resources.

ʻIke Kūʻokoʻa also required whole new technical and data systems to be set up, adapting existing computer programs to new applications and generating new programming that fulfilled the emerging needs of a newly-brainstormed and widely disseminated public project. Setup and continual honing of a working system to distribute, receive and process thousands of digital images and typescript files expanded the skill sets of the computer specialists as well as building the technical and organizational savvy of the entire ʻIke Kūʻokoʻa staff and volunteer corps.

The proposed continuation of this work through some sort of institute will facilitate protection and dissemination of Hawaiian texts and also solidify and extend the fabric that is being woven of digitized newspapers, social connections and shared ideas and energy. Building the community that is working to rearticulate the historical knowledge is as important to this newly-illuminated library as making the content available. Numerous fields will benefit, but to develop a reliable infrastructure for progress and stability, resources must be assembled.


This library and laboratory would provide three primary components:

  • Systems to reliably catalogue, store and serve content across the various internet platforms, planned in collaboration with specialists in Library and Information Services;
  • Systems to provide researchers and developers access to the data and metadata for analysis and derivative product development; and
  • Systems to manage the access controls for users, institutions and researchers interfacing with the institute, both for use of raw data and for ongoing improvement of the resource.

The computer systems would include:

  • Server hardware to provide the processing and memory to service the software;
  • Networking hardware to provide connection to the internet and internal networks; and
  • Storage hardware to provide data storage and backup.

Software would include:

  • Web servers, Databases, Content management systems
  • Commercial or open-source data management packages and internally developed tools

This architecture will provide the tools necessary to support the public, students, researchers and developers to access the existing corpus while also exploring nascent technologies and methodologies to make Hawaiian-language texts available and accessible for our current and future generations. The benefits of such an integrated system include a new cadre of experts and trainees who are familiarized with the full span of implemented programs and trained in adapting or creating new programs that facilitate the development of the resource. This will establish a new technical community that includes specialists in both Computer Science and Library Information Systems. Another benefit will be a new assembly of programs and systems that are applicable to other bodies of legacy knowledge here in Hawaiʻi and which can be exported to other cultural spheres where efforts to recover ancestral knowledge are underway.






ʻIke Kūʻokoʻa was successfully completed on Nov. 28 2012, and the files are being loaded up onto the web for free access through the following websites.  Awaiaulu and the ʻIke Kūʻokoʻa team extend a sincere mahalo! to all of those who made this possible through their participation and support.  


Aloha nō,

Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Alu Like Inc.
Hale Kuamo'o
Bishop Museum