Letter from Kahuhu to Chief John Adams Kuakini, Makali'i 12, 1822

Hawai‘i State Archives

James Kahuhu letter.
Makali‘i 12, 1822.
Series 402, F.O.&Ex.


The oldest Hawaiian language document in the Hawai'i State Archives is 181-years-old. The letter was written by James Kahuhu. Not having yet learned the western calendar, Kahuhu dates the letter according to the Hawaiian calendar: Makali‘i 12, 1822.

Kahuhu was among the earliest of those associated with the chiefs to learn both English and the palapala -the written word- as the Hawaiian language set to alphabet was called. Kahuhu then became a teacher to the chiefs.

Writing to Chief John Adams Kuakini, Kahuhu wrote in English and Hawaiian because, at that time, Kuakini was learning both English and written Hawaiian.

Below is a transcription of Kahuhu's letter; its Hawaiian Language passages have been translated into English and appear in italics.

Oahu. Makali‘i 12, 1822.

My Dear Chief Mr. John Adams Kuakini. I love you very much. This is my communication to you. Continue praying to Jehovah our God. Keep the Sabbath which is God’s holy day. Persevere in your learning the good Gospel of Jehovah. By and by perhaps we shall know the good word of Jesus Christ. Then we shall know the good word of God. A few begin to understand the good word of God. I am very pleased with the good word of God which has been brought here to enlighten this dark land. Who will save our souls and take them up to heaven, the place of eternal life. I am presently teaching Nahienaena. I am teaching seven of them. Nahienaena, Kauikeaouli, Halekii, Ulumeheihei Waipa, Ulumeheihei a Kapalahaole, Nakapuai and Noaawa are the students I am teaching. I may have more in the future. You must obey your good teacher, Hopu. Persevere with him and don’t give up. Keliiahonui has learned to write quite well, he sent a letter to Oahu. Tell Hopu that Keliiahonui misses him. The King is learning to write from Mr. Bingham. Kalaimoku, Kinau and Kekauonohi are learning to write Hawaiian. Mr. Thurston is their teacher. Here is another word to you, if you see Kalapauwahiole tell him to come to Oahu as I would like very much for him to come to Oahu.

James Kahuhu