Translating Hawaiian History

Hawaiian Kingdom Court Document

Ua Unuhi Na Palapala:  Revealing Indigenous Responses to Western

Concepts of Justice

Wednesday, August 20, 2014   5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Aliiolani Hale, 417 S King Street, Honolulu, HI 96813

The translation of over 2,000 Hawaiian Kingdom court documents from Hawaiian to English provides new information for understanding daily life in Hawaii during the 19th Century. The documents translated are only a few of the Hawaiian language documents housed at the Hawaii State Archives.

The translations helped guide the development of the Center’s exhibitions and displays.  Since 1977, translators have spent countless hours deciphering handwriting, solving mysterious abbreviations, learning old names and relocating unfamiliar places names.  Some cultural practices referenced and described within the court documents are no longer practiced and virtually unknown today, making translation difficult.

Hear about the challenges of translation work and the opportunities for becoming more proficient in Hawaiian grammar and vocabulary.  Esther Kiki Mookini (translator), Toni Han Palermo (program specialist), and Kaanoi Walk (research scholar) share stories of this on-going project to make Hawaiian Kingdom court documents accessible to a broader audience. Learn more about the types of cases brought before the court in the 19th century and how they were settled.

Free and open to the public. Light refreshments served.

RSVP by August 19, 2014 to 539-4999 or


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