Execution of Chief Kamanawa

Author: 
Hawai‘i State Archives

Order of Execution.
Series 402, F.O.& Ex.: Oct. 1840.

The first murder to be charged under Hawaiʻi’s first criminal laws occurred in 1840. High Chief Kamanawa (II) was married to Chiefess Kamokuiki. However, Kamanawa was accustomed to the pre-christian Hawaiian practice of “moe aku, moe mai” (love affairs).

Unhappy with his affairs, Kamokuiki divorced him. Six weeks later, she was dead. Murder was suspected and Kamanawa and Lonoopuakau, an accomplice, were arrested. At trial they confessed. Lonoopuakau had prepared a fatal dose of the fishing poisons ʻākia and ʻauhuhu mixed into her ‘awa. Kamanawa then gave the drink to his wife. They were convicted of murder and sentenced to be executed on October 20, 1840.

On the night of the 19th, Kamanawa asked to see his grandsons. The next morning, eight year old James Kapaʻakea and four year old David Kalākaua were brought to see their grandfather one last time. At 11 o’clock, High Chief Kamanawa (II) and Lonoopuakau were executed by hanging.

Below is a translation of the Order of Execution.

Kamanawa and Lonoopuakau,
In accordance with the sentence condemning you to death given on the 30th of September, we hereby announce that the two of you will be hanged on the 20th of this month at 11 o’clock.
The two of you would benefit by spending the rest of your days in sincere repentance, that your heinous crime may be forgiven by Jesus.
Honolulu, Oahu. October 5, 1840. King Kamehameha III
Kekauluohi (Kuhina Nui)