The history of human habitation of the Hawaiian islands goes back 1500 years when settlers arrived by canoe from the Marquesas Islands. Around 500 years later more people arrived from Tahiti. The islanders were left alone to develop a distinctive Hawaiian culture until in 1778 British Captain James Cook arrived on Kauai and he named the islands the Sandwich Islands. The following year Cook was killed by natives on Hawaii’s Big Island. In 1810 King Kamehameha I united the islands for the first time into a single kingdom and soon after American missionaries and then whalers arrived bringing with them diseases that devastated the native population. In 1843 British warship HMS Carysfort entered Honolulu Harbour and forced the King to cede the islands to Britain, but this was swiftly overturned by the captain’s commanding officer. American colonists became increasingly powerful and in 1893 they staged a coup that overthrew the monarchy. The first attempt by the colonists to get the US to annex Hawaii failed but in 1898 President McKinley signed a resolution that annexed the islands. Hawaii became a Territory of the US until in 1959 it became the 50th state. In the 20th century, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Portuguese immigrants arrived to work in the sugar and pineapple plantations, resulting in the rich ethnic mix of modern Hawaiians. Take a island paradise in the middle of the Pacific with a rich ethnic heritage and mix it with American culture, and what do you get? Something unique that contains little of the the culture of the original Hawaiians.
Downtown Honolulu & harbor from Aloha Tower, Oahu
Nowadays even an island paradise in the Pacific has to have its ugly sprawling city, or at least it does if it is part of the USA. In and around Honolulu you can understand how Joni Mitchell felt after arriving at night on her first trip to Hawaii. In the morning she opened the curtains and looked out of her hotel window to find that her view was of a huge car park rather than the paradise that she was expecting. Her introduction to Honolulu inspired her to write the song ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ with the famous line ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot’.
Akaka falls, Akaka Falls State Park, Hawaii Big Island
The island of Hawaii (otherwise known as the ‘Big Island’) is worlds away from the bustle of Honolulu. There is no big city here instead the island has two faces - a lush green face as shown here and an angry black face in the areas where there has been more recent volcanic activity. Tall, thin waterfalls like the one at Akaka Falls State Park are very much part of the Hawaiian scene. They are formed when a river breaks through a layer of hard lava into a bed of softer ash beneath. The river cuts through the ash layer creating a high waterfall that drops directly into a deep gorge. The Akaka Falls are on the North West side of the Big Island and they are 135 metres (442 feet) high.
Hawaii State Capitol, Honolulu, Oahu,
During the Territorial era the ʻIolani Palace in Honolulu, a former royal palace, was used as the Capitol building. When Hawaii gained statehood, it was decided that a new purpose built capitol was needed. Since it was 1959, there was no question of following many older states by building a capitol based on the Federal capitol in Washington DC. Hawaii chose instead to build a capitol that reflected unique aspects of the new state. The building features Legislative chambers shaped like the volcanoes that formed the islands and it is surrounded by reflecting pools that symbolise Hawaii’s position in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. There is a large open central court area and tall supporting columns designed to resemble royal palm trees. The capitol was designed by Hawaiian and Californian architects working in partnership. The new Capitol opened on March 16, 1969.
Route 130 blocked by fresh lava, Hawaii
The Big Island is still growing. Constant activity from Kilauea volcano, the world’s most active, means that here you can never rely on your map. Round any corner in the south of the island you could find the road blocked by a lava flow. Fortunately Kilauea is not prone to explosive eruptions, so the risk to life is low as long as you stay away from vents and off recent lava flows. However buildings and even towns have been be lost. so where possible historic buildings moved out of harms way. In 1990 we found Route 130 newly blocked by lava and nearby we found the Star of the Sea painted church forlornly propped up by the road after hurried removal from the path of a lava flow. Click Tab 2 to see the Star of the Sea church propped up by the road in 1990. Go top the Big Island page to see a 2011 picture of the restored church in its new location.
Christ Memorial Episcopal Church, Kilauea, Kauai
In 1862 King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma invited the Anglican Church to Hawaii and gave it some land on which to start building churches. From Honolulu the church spread across the islands and by 1888 despite the lack of a church in which to worship, services were being held in Kilauea on the island of Kauai. After Hawaii was annexed by the US, the Anglican Church on the island became part of the Episcopal Church, the branch of the Anglican Church that serves the US. By 1924 there was still no church in Kilauea for Episcopalian worship, so a building owned by the Hawaiian Congregational Church was used. In 1939 the Kilauea Sugar Company gave land in Kilauea to the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii on which to build a church and they also donated the lava stone from which it was built. The church has intricate stained glass windows that were made in England and restored in 1968. Although this picturesque church is a major tourist attraction, Christ Memorial Episcopal Church is still in regular use for services. Click Tab 2 to see the interior of the church.
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