Article, Christianity in Hawaii: Interview of Daniel Kikawa by Wayne Cordeiro
(Sandy Simpson notes in parenthesis)
[This is connecting point with Pastor Wayne Cordeiro.]
Wayne: Aloha and welcome to Connecting Point. I’m Wayne Cordeiro.
Kim: And I’m Kim Harper.
Wayne: You know there are some people who want to go back to Hawaiian culture and religion. But what was the religion of the original native Hawaiians?
Kim: Was it the traditions of Pele and human sacrifices?
Wayne: With us today is respected scholar Daniel Kikawa and Kawika Kawiapo, two of the founders of Aloha Ke Akua Ministries.
Kim: They will tell us what they believe is evidence that the earliest Hawaiians worshipped the God of the Bible.
Wayne: Stay with us for another powerful half hour right here on Connecting Point.
Wayne: Welcome to this very special edition of Connecting Point. We’re here with Daniel Kikawa of uh, the author of “Perpetuated In Righteousness” and talking about the origins of Hawaii Nei. Also we are here with Kawika Kapiapo, a great musician and also a Kahu/Pastor (Sandy Note: actually pastor in Hawaiian is Kahuna pule). Welcome to Connecting Point Daniel & Kawika. Good to have you here. Now you’ve written in this book “Perpetuated In Righteousness”, now what is this book all about?
Daniel: It’s about the Godly origins of the Hawaiian people. You know the Bible says in Romans 1:20 that all people knew Him. So there would be origins of the one benevolent Creator God in Hawaiian history and Hawaiian culture. So we’ve just researched that and documented it.
Wayne: Now a lot of people want to go back to the roots, you know, of Hawaii and the old ways, etc. and what’s you’re asserting is that in the beginnings it was really a Christian state.
Daniel: Well I wouldn’t say a Christian state in the sense that we know what is called a general revelation of God where we have a general revelation from creation around us, as it says in Romans 1:20. Again that we know Him by creation and the things around so that we are without excuse to know the Creator God is there and He loves us. Now Jesus, He came later on, He had to be born as a man. And so His knowledge had to be brought. But there is a general revelation of the Creator God that every people has. And so it’s there in Hawaiian culture and all we have to do is look for it. A lot of people want to go back to find their roots and we understand that, and where everybody wants to know who they are and be proud of who they are but they have generally gone back to the last Hawaiian village which was there which was actually a foreign religion brought by the priests Pa’au around between 11 and 1300AD. And this one of course had human sacrifice. Thousands of people were sacrificed; a very harsh Kapu system where people, females, were killed for eating a banana, for instance and you know that system was a system that was brought in later. Before that they worshipped the one Creator God. Man was sacred to Him, not to be killed. He was known as the God of love. And I believe this is where “aloha” came from.
Wayne: Well, Pa’au is from where?
Daniel: Pa’au was from Tahiti.
Wayne: Now, in the beginning, Kawika, Hawaiians worshipped even before Pa’au, what was the name of this god that they worshipped?
Kawika: Well, what’s been made known through many chants and writings even oral history uh we could find it a lot in Auntie Melea Craver and other people who have shared the history and oral history of “‘Io”. The knowledge of the Supreme Being and in collaborating with friends of ours down in Aotearoa, NZ there are even Maori chants in other parts of the Polynesian triangle that have ancient writings, histories, chants of what is known to them as a supreme being that sits in the middle of the heavens. So it is those things that we sort of, kind of, food for thought at least brings us to the table to talk and to communicate with these people representing Polynesian cultures and remembering our roots and where we all come from and it’s been pretty amazing, the journey.
Wayne: So gods, the Pele and others actually came after Pa’au after the 11th, 12th, 1300s?
Daniel: Yes, the historian Fornander who actually was taken by some of the Ali’i down to speak to all the oldest people in the back country and so on he says that they didn’t even know Pele. And this came later with the time of Pa’au he says she’s not a part of the creation chants or of these older chants to the Creator God and um …
Wayne: ‘Cause she doesn’t show up at all till later on.
Daniel: No in fact the chants of Pele talk about her traveling from Kahiki or Tahiti to Hawaii.
Wayne: Um, Um. So that’s where you get Tahitian god or Tahitian religion. So when they say the Hawaiian religion of Pele and some of the other are actually Tahitian migration of a religion.
Daniel: Yah, that’s when all of these start to appear.
Wayne: So this one God concept of ‘Io is really not a white man’s religion then and that was something here way before a white man had ever been arrived.
Wayne: Now when the missionaries arrived they brought in the knowledge of Jesus Christ as God’s Son. Did that mess them up or were they open to that at that time when the missionaries came?
Daniel: Well I think that God loving the Hawaiian people He had His name, they knew Him and they worshipped Him and then this invader came in and made a false religion there that wasn’t worshipping the Creator but He always left a remnant of the priests of ‘Io. The historians say that Pa’au killed the priests of ‘Io but there were ones that passed down their knowledge in secret. And I just talked with one of the descendants of the priests of ‘Io a couple of weeks ago and it was passed down to one child in each generation called the Pono one, that knowledge, and it had to be secret otherwise they would be killed if they spread it. But there were also prophecies that came out where God was preparing the time for the missionaries to come to say “this is My return”. And before the overthrow of the Kapu system there was a prophecy that came forth that there would be a communication from Keakua Meoli, the true God. And this communication would be something different from anything that they had seen before and this communication would give them a new knowledge of Him and there was another prophecy at the time of Hewahewa (1) who was actually a descendant of Pa’au and he was the one that first overthrew the Kapu system and burned the heiau and Hewahewa also knew this prophecy where it said the islands would be unified, which Kamahameha did and then the Kapu would be broken and then that the common people would be raised up to heaven. Another prophecy there was a prophecy that Lono, the Hawaiian god of peace, would come in a new form that they would not recognize and he would come in a small black box and speak a language they did not understand and they wouldn’t recognize him. Now when the Kapu system was overthrown by the Alii before the missionaries arrived, Hewahewa was the first one to burn the heiau and he said “I always knew there is only one great god in heaven. You know I followed these, the traditions of my ancestors just because that’s the way my traditions were but I always knew there was one great god in heaven” and we find that this family did know about the creator god too, by the way. But anyway, he overthrew it and he gave another prophecy. He told the king down there by the King Kamahameha Hotel, that’s why it is called the King Kamehameha hotel because the king lived there, and he pointed to a rock in the bay there that is still there under the pier next to the King Kamehameha hotel and he said “Here, oh king the new god will come.” And they waited for the new god to come. And when the missionaries came they landed right on that rock and the first missionary out carried a black Bible box, the Bibles had to be hand printed at that time and were very valuable and they had special boxes for them so he stepped out on that rock with the black Bible box and the Kahuna were the ones that opened the box, opened the book inside, couldn’t understand and words and proclaimed “This is it, the coming of the new god and the new communication in a way that we can’t understand.” So God did confirm to them that this was His Son coming.
Wayne: Not Daniel, uh David rather when some of the activists now talk they say that that’s not true that it Pele, that it’s Lono, some of the others that they talk about and Christianity is really a white man’s kind of God. You being Hawaiian, how do you feel about that, which, what they’re saying does it hold any truth at all?
Kawika: I think what motivates their point of view is the history that we have experienced in the name of the Church, in the name of Christianity, per se. I don’t think it’s bad for our people to seek out their identity in what our culture really represents to us. But what I simply share to them in our experience of sharing a lot of people in different parts of the world, different countries in some of the conferences that we operate the story of mankind or the world is there for anyone to uncover. When we look at Genesis 11, because of man’s foolishness and I say their desire to create a one world government God says “I need to do something about it.” So He confused the languages and dispersed the peoples and so but at that point God says they spoke one language. But then He confused that language. For me I believe next to giving Jesus Christ to the human race I believe giving us our diversity was probably the next most beautiful thing He could have done. So we see that this dispersion of people in the earth Acts 17 tells us that God predestined and determined where these people would go, when they would rise, when they would fall and that if they seek after Him they would find Him. So if we look like Daniel mentioned in Romans there is much evidence out there and I think it’s appropriate with this show being called “Connecting Point” I think that not only what the Hawaiians but the people of the world need to understand that there’s a lot of connecting points. There’s a story about our origins and how He has left telltale signs or His DNA along the way to seek our way back to Him. So my message always to our fellow Hawaiians and the Hawaiian community here whether they be in a sovereignty movement or just in the Hawaiian community itself is if you desiring to seek to go back to the old ways then the question is really then you have to ask yourself “How far do you want to go back?” At what period of time do you feel you would be comfortable in existing in that particular time of how they ruled themselves, how they cared for each other and so that’s a big question. So I think the truth is, as we start to share this history that we’ve learn, that we’ve uncovered, that’s basically the story of cultures all over the world. God left the signs there, it’s there for us to find, we seek Him and we will find Him. And so I guess that’s the best thing I could answer that question.
Wayne: Kawika, where did the Hawaiians come from? Was it from the NZ area, the Maori, and then they brought, came up the chain of islands?
Kawika: I think Daniel would understand more specifically the timeline in the way they were progressively inhabited and moved about.
Daniel: Yeah, well there is strong evidence of the Lapita people and they left potteries throughout Southeast Asia and they found this pottery all the way up into the Marquesas. And so that they at least came from there and it’s just really an easy voyage to India and to the Middle East which the legends seem to take you back to. But the first Hawaiians they, the best archeological evidence is they came through Samoa through the Marquesas and then to Hawaii. And then you had later migrations coming from Tahiti and not all of them were bad migrations of Tahitians that came and integrated with the people until Pa’au came at that time. The New Zealanders will point to Hawaii and say they came from Hawaii. And in fact south point on the Big Islands is the sacred place to them when they come here and visit. (2)
Wayne: Because they think the migration went the other way?
Daniel: Well the Mauri anyway came from Hawaii and through again Tahiti, Rorotonga and down into New Zealand and then you find the strongest evidence of ‘Io actually in Hawaii, Tahiti, Rorotonga and New Zealand.
Wayne: Now where are those found … in what kind of format?
Daniel: Uh, mostly in chants, you mean the knowledge of ‘Io?
Daniel: In chants.
Wayne: Mostly oral history. You believe that the first heiaus were like observatories or they were places of worship not to Pele or to people who died but actually as something that would give homage to ‘Io. (3)
Daniel: Yeah we know of at least one definitely. It was a worship place to ‘Io. And when Pa’au came over he took over this same heaiu. Um, the archeologists know that a lot of these heaiu were built and were there before Pa’au came and so who were they worshiping before Pa’au? And again the people who look past Pa’au all say they were worshipping a one Creator God, actually a one Creator God in three parts. (4)
Wayne: That’s intriguing interesting conversation. We’re going to take a break and come back and I want to talk to you about how did we go from worshiping one God to many gods? How did that transition take place and how do we get back to the roots of what Hawaii is all about? And then we’ll want to hear one of your songs (talking to Kawika) that would be kinda neat. Well stay with us we’ll be right back here on Connecting Point as we’re talking with Daniel Kikawa and Kawika Kapiapo, as we talk about the origins of faith in Hawaii. Stay with us we’ll be right back.
(Kawika song played in the background sung about ‘Io.)
Wayne: Welcome back to connecting point as we talk about the origins of faith in Hawaii. Daniel, you know, what are the reasons the people went from worshipping one god, ‘Io, to a plethora of gods? What took place?
Daniel: Well I think there are several factors in there. One is ‘Io himself had 27 names just like Jehovah, you know Jehovah Jirah, Jehovah Rapha, El Shadai, and each of them were an aspect of who he was and so you find some people started separating this. But I think the main thing that happened is when the priests Pa’au came and he brought all these different other gods in. And from the worship of one god you know it spread out like you say to a lot of these genealogy gods, Pele and so on, is really an aumakua she is not one of the aukua, she’s a genealogy god. So a lot of these gods began to be worshipped and so on. Now the Bible tells us to respect out ancestors and all we have to do it turn it back to respect (5) instead of worship, you know we don’t have to throw away our ancestors.
Wayne: Now you know a lot of the history books talk about the gods of ancient Hawaii and its Pele and Lono and some of these. Now if what you’re saying is indeed fact why don’t we change the history books?
Daniel: It’s starting to happen and you are finding a lot because so many people have come out and talked about ‘Io now, now it’s out in the open that the history books now are starting to add and talk about ‘Io. And again it’s something that was hidden and I believe again there is a spiritual battle going on for the minds of men and it’s hidden but if you went to the Bishop Museum for instance to their library and you typed in ‘Io on the computer you’d get pages of printouts. It’s there. You it’s just not well known. Just like in Japan everybody worships Amatarasu, the sun goddess emperors were descended from when they have a name of a one Creator god Ama-No-Minaka-Nushi (6) which is “the god in the glorious center of heaven. (7) The average Japanese person doesn’t know about it. But all the priests know. And so people who study Hawaiian religion, they know. And so you find it more and more and there’s much written about it, you just have to go to the right places.
Wayne: So why isn’t it written up? Why is this kind of a new knowledge now?
Daniel: Well I think that, again, we are bringing it back and the knowledge of ‘Io at one time, if you spoke about it meant death because Pa’au would kill you. And so it had to be secret and was passed on to one child in each generation.
Wayne: So as a Kapu you don’t speak about it.
Daniel: Well in the sense that it meant death for you, you know. And so that kinda continued on … (Kawika interjects: That’s Kapu, you die! Ha, ha, ha.) But anyway I talked with someone who was from a family from the priests of ‘Io that she didn’t know it ‘cause she wasn’t the Pono child. And she read Perpetuated and she went to her family and said, you know, do we know of ‘Io and they said “Yes” and she said then why didn’t you tell me and she found out she wasn’t the Pono one and she went to her sibling who was and he refused to tell her about it. You know it comes into a kind of a pride thing sometimes too. (8) But now’s the time that you know ‘Io himself is telling these different families of ‘Io that you know it’s time to let everybody know I’m the god of the Hawaiian people.
Wayne: That’s good. Talking about the Kapu system was that really a religious thing in nature or was it more political?
Daniel: Well the … it was really both. Now what the Mary Kawena Pukui says who wrote the Hawaiian Dictionary and so on is that Pa’au brought in the harsher aspects of the Kapu system. Now there are good Kapu. For instance the Hawaiians were the first conservationists in that sense where you couldn’t catch a certain kind of fish when it was spawning; you know things like that to make sure there’s fish there. (9) But now the harsher aspects came in like for instance again like a woman couldn’t eat a banana or she was killed. She couldn’t eat coconut you know so there’s a lot of women want to go back to the, find their roots but if they go back to this system no more coconut crème pie you know no more kulolo for them, no pork they couldn’t eat, no laulau, no and you know (Kawika chimes in: And better for us! – ha, ha, ha. … they all laugh) But you know you were saying earlier about the as we were talking earlier about Kapiolani and when she was a young girl she ate a banana, this is talking about the political how it was, so she ate a banana but because she was a high Alii she wasn’t killed. They took her favorite servant boy, a boy named Mau, and this the kahuna strangled Mau on the altar of the heiau in her place. And later on, many years later when she became a believer in Jesus and she asked this same kahuna “why did you do this?” And he said himself “those were dark times but we priests knew better all along … we did it to keep control over the minds of the people.” So that’s where the politics come in … fear and the control, and again many people want to go back to that old system but if you go back to that system, human sacrifice, and these kapu that meant death were a very important pillar in that system. You can’t go back to it without the human sacrifice coming back.
Wayne: So Kawika on the sovereignty movement and going back to the old Hawaii, is that what they want to go back to … that system … the Kapu system … the penal system?
Kawika: I don’t think so. I think most of them don’t fully understand what would actually happen and take and what they would be victims of. If they chose to go back to that period of time I think there a lot of, I think I mentioned earlier about what motivates a typical Hawaiian man or woman to want to seek out their roots and live in the old ways. I think there is more desire to be fulfilled or to reconcile the issue of the whole overthrown colonization issue that has happened. And I think really what they are really saying in their hearts is “just let me have it the way it used to be, you know the way we used to live” and enjoying the Aina and living with the Aina, enjoying each other’s aloha, fellowship, the music, the chants, whatever it was. I think that’s really what their saying is that to be able to have just maybe left alone or (Wayne: go back to simpler times) right, right or to justify the feelings of why the overthrow took place. And so I think really what most Hawaiians are really saying in their heart is there’s a way of life that was perfectly fine for us that we felt rich in a way that didn’t necessarily mean any kind of economic attachment to it but just feeling rich with the culture and the Aina and the land. And that’s what I really believe their saying is that I just want to go back to a simpler way of life that we understood.
Wayne: And Kawika we all wish that and there are times I wish for simple times too, you know and that would be really nice but wouldn’t that require probably 90% of the population to leave so that they could have simpler times?
Kawika: Right but what I think from what I understand at the time of the overthrow and the way the territory was set up then and as like any other country people could apply for citizenship. So the truth is I believe that most leaders of the movement today understand the fact that if there’s any sort of reinitiation or nation within a nation or sovereignty movement actually established or recognized I think most of the leaders now understand the fact that it’s beyond just the koko, the blood but people who have called Hawaii home for generations.
Wayne: Great. Now missionaries, did they come and overthrow the Kapu system? Is that what they did or how did that get turned over?
Daniel: Well again the Kapu system was overthrown in 1819 and the missionaries came in 1820. So they did not do that, it was initiated by the Li’i themselves, King Kamaheameha II and Kaopualani and Ka’ahumnu and they were the ones that initiated it. I think that what got compressed is that the missionaries made a lot of mistakes, and one of the mistakes they made was reject the Hawaiian culture, which really flows from who they are. And it’s almost like God is rejecting you. And they rejected the name of ‘Io. I talked with several families of the priesthood of ‘Io who said that they, when they heard about who Jehovah was the uncreated creator who created the first man and woman, man was sacred to Him and not to be killed and all these things they said “we know of Him” and His name is ‘Io and they were basically, everything about your culture is basically evil (10) or so to speak and so you know the Creator God. And so they basically kept it silent and within their families but they said all through that time they were p raying and saying “’Io you are Jehovah”.
Wayne: So this one god and this Christian concept of god, is not really a white man’s religion brought here then it is really something that was here from the very beginning.
Daniel: Yeah. And I don’t even think we can say it’s a Christian concept of God. It’s really just God’s general revelation because He loves all His children. (11) He wouldn’t leave them without a witness. It says in Acts 17 that he placed everybody where they should be so that they may reach out for Him and perhaps find Him and He is not far from anyone of us. (12) You know, in fact we live, we move, we breathe within Him. (13) You know in Hawaii especially you look at creation, if we know Him by creation, um we should have had so much communication with His people.
Wayne: So Christians came in and increased that, affirmed that, ratified that but God’s knowledge was already here. (14)
Kawika: Uh, huh. What was interesting it that his blueprint perfectly planned mission, I guess, that led from Henry Obookiah living on the East Coast his influence on the missionaries there, his education, and the fact that he motivated those people who at one time told him “those native savages can’t be educated so how can they possibly be converted.” (15) But because of this one man just months prior to Hewahewa receiving and giving the prophecy having the dreams desecrating the heiaus what was it, six months later? The first ships arrived so God had a master plan preparing the very ones who benefited from the Kapu system Kamehameha and Hewahewa were the very ones that said we need to be open to this new thing that Akua or ‘Io is revealing to us. (See Footnote 1) Six months later the first missionary ships.
Wayne: God is great and so is your timing here at Connecting Point, sharing with us the origins of our faith in Hawaii and that God really was here revealing Himself to the Hawaiians. Thank you so much for your research, thank you very much Kawika for being here, and the music that you share and the heart of God for Hawaii. We wish you God’s very best as we continue to educate people of the true origins of faith in Hawaii. (16)