On Tuesday, Feb. 12, Professor Puakea Nogelmeier, acclaimed songwriter, Kumu Hula and UH Manoa Professor of Language, will talk to the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce on the status of the ‘Ike Ku‘oko‘a project. That aims to convert 116 years of Hawaiian language newspapers into digital, searchable, online files. The project extends Nogelmeier’s work as executive director of Awaiaulu, an educational organization that makes Hawaiian historical resources available to students and historians.
‘Ike Ku‘oko‘a, the Hawaiian Language Newspaper Initiative, received help from hundreds of Maui volunteers in 2012 who word-processed thousands of Hawaiian language newspaper articles to contribute to the now-largest collection of native language literature in the western world, totaling 60,000 pages of Native Hawaiian knowledge, opinion, vital statistics, customs and historical fragments from monarchy to territory days. These files will all be uploaded into searchable public databases such as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Papakilo Database.
The newspapers are artifacts from old Hawaii, spanning from the Hawaii Kingdom through the time of the overthrow to the territorial era up to and including World War II. Hawaii may have been sans-hotels in this time, but it also boasted a highly literate society. These newspapers fed the avid public; between 1834 and the late 1940s, there were more than 100 newspaper publications, which added up to approximately 125,000 pages of text in the native Hawaiian language.
“Articles in these papers included data on fish prices and catches, traditional and introduced fishing practices, climatic conditions, storms and other significant weather events, marine ecosystem management and changing legal environments in Hawaii,” stated a UH press release on the project. “This newspaper archive has been virtually inaccessible due to their storage media (paper, microfilm and microfiche), the lack of any funding aids, and the paucity of Hawaiian-language scholars.”
Now the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce is inviting everyone interested in Maui and Hawaiian history to join them for cocktails and networking at 5:30pm, followed by dinner and Noglemeier’s presentation. Dinner is $20 and the projected end time is 8pm.
To attend the Feb. 12 meeting, RSVP by Saturday, Feb. 9 to Kai Pelayo. Call 808-874-2426 or email at Kai.Pelayo@grandwailea.com.