Uses of the Kukui Nut

Ever used a nut as a lamp?

The ancient Hawaiians did with the kukui nut (candlenut). To create the lamp, they strung the nuts together, placed them on a skewer, or put them onto a torch.

The ancient Hawaiians also used the versatile kukui nut to make jewelry, tattoo ink, red-brown dye, topical medication, and varnish.

Read more about the uses of the kukui nut in “Its Uses and Disuses Told by Mr. Girvin.”

Stealing Dog License Tags

Back in 1901, owning a dog in Hawaii required the purchase of a license, which comes with a tag. Some people couldn’t or didn’t want to pay for the licenses, so they stole tags from other dogs. Was the police able to get the tags back? Read more about it in “Stealing Dog Tax Tags.”

The Hawaiian Language

“Aiea,” the name of a town on Oahu, is spelled only with vowels. The Hawaiian language contains words composedly entirely of vowels, as a Montana newspaper notes in 1898:

“Its most prominent characteristic is the great use of vowels. Besides the five vowels it needs only seven consonants to make up the alphabet, and … two consonants shall never come together and … no word or syllable shall end with other than a vowel. On the other hand, vowels may string along in indefinite succession. The speech abounds with whole words which have not a single consonant to hold them together.”

The article notes that “aaa” means friendly, “eee” means rise up, “ooo” means to shrink, and “uuu” means to stammer.

Read more about an outsider’s view of the Hawaiian language in “The Hawaiian Speech.”


In ancient Hawaii, taro wasn’t just a dietary staple; it was also considered an elder sibling to the Hawaiian people. A central plant in ancient Hawaii, the taro plant required a flowing stream of water and was usually grown on flat lands near the sea. Only men would cultivate the taro and prepare it for eating.

Read more about taro in the Hawaiian culture in “Taro or Kalo.”

The Election Riot of 1874

Ever felt so angry about a political candidate losing that you beat up his supporters?

In 1874, when Queen Dowager Emma lost the election to rule Hawaii to Kalakaua, her supporters rioted, rushing into the courthouse and beating the legislators who voted for Kalakaua with clubs. The riot spread through Honolulu and was so bad that the Hawaiian government asked the British and American marines in Honolulu Harbor to suppress the unrest.
Read more about the riots in the news articles below.
Articles from Chronicling America

“Riot of the Queenites”
The Pacific commercial advertiser., February 14, 1874, Image 3

“Monthly Summary”
The Pacific commercial advertiser., March 07, 1874, Image 3

“This past month has been a period of unusual political excitement…”
The Hawaiian gazette., March 11, 1874, Image 2

“The Riot at Honolulu”
New-York tribune., March 28, 1874, Page 3, Image 3

“A Trial for Treason”
The Pacific commercial advertiser., October 10, 1874, Image 3

Catching Leprosy for Love

If your spouse were to face exile due to leprosy, would you try to catch leprosy so you could go with him or her?

That was what twenty-year-old Mary Mahiai did. She searched for a leprosy victim in hiding, cut a vein in her wrist, and bound the wound to the leprosy victim’s wrist.

Read more about it in “Bounded her Wounded Wrist to a Leper that She Might Be Exiled with her Husband.”

A Bicycle Seat Saves the Day!

A three-year-old boy falls 20 feet from a balcony and lands on his head. Would you believe that he walks away with only a bruise thanks to a bicycle seat? “Read more about it!”


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