Mai Paʻa i Ka Leo: Historical Voice in Hawaiian Primary Materials, Looking Forward and Listening Back
M. Puakea Nogelmeier
Softcover, 248 pp.
In just over a century, from 1834 to 1948, Hawaiian writers filled 125,000 pages in nearly 100 different newspapers with their writings. The contents of those papers span a period when noted historians, experts genealogists, skilled storytellers, and cultural specialists were numerous, and their knowledge was intentionally recorded in writing for their contemporaries and for generations of the future.
Though scholars have generated entire books of history and legend with what they have extracted from these papers, only a tiny fraction, less than one percent of the whole, has been translated and published. The rest, equal to well over a million letter sized pages of text, remains untranslated, difficult to access in the original form, unused, and largely unknown.
The most familiar English translations have developed into a canon of chosen texts. The books that make up this powerful canon are problematic at best, and yet flawed as they are, they have been the foundation of Hawaiian knowledge for most readers, teachers, and researchers for generations. Not only do these translations inadequately represent even the originals from which they were taken, but they further compound the problem by eclipsing the larger body of original writings that remain unrecognized.