Hawaii State history experts believe that each of the Hawaiian islands was created by submarine volcanic action, all fueled by the same “hot spot,” which has remained stationary as the Pacific plate drifted above.
While the oldest islands no longer have any volcanic activity, the process is continuing at Kilauea on the Big Island, with lava exploding into the sea to add new land day by day.
Hawaii State history scientists say that until two thousand years ago, only the descendants of what few organisms had been carried here by wind or wave populated these unknown islands.
The first Polynesians, believed to be from the Marquesas Islands, settled on this island chain some time between 500 and 600 AD. They navigated the South Pacific seas in double-hulled canoes, using the stars and ocean currents as guides. The Polynesians brought plants and animals necessary to create a self-sufficient way of life.
As indicated by Hawaii State history experts, the Marquesas lived a rather peaceful life until, in 1000 AD, the Tahitians arrived and introduced their customs, religion and a strict social order.
Around 1175 a Tahitian priest (kahuna), known as Pa’ao in ancient oral histories, arrived in Hawaii. He brought with him Pili, the first in the royal line, which led to Kamehameha the Great. Pa’ao is thought to have founded the kahuna nui (high priest) line, initiating the system of division of each island under a ruling king which lasted for the next several hundred years.
One ali’i nui, the most powerful ali’i (chief) of the region, headed each island and distributed land to the chiefs below him (who then allowed the commoners to work on, but not purchase, that land) in a feudal-style system. The ali’i were believed to have been chosen by the gods, and served as a link between the people and the gods they worshipped.
Below the ali’i and the priest class were the maka’ainana, or commoners, and a third class of citizens known as kaua. The kaua were most often those who had broken kapu (taboo) and had neither rights nor property.
The Hawaiians used little writing, and preserved most of their Hawaii State history in chants, known as mele, and legends. Much of Hawaiian history was lost with the deaths of kahunas and others whose duty it was to pass on the knowledge of the ancients to later generations.
According to Hawaii State history books, no western ship chanced upon Hawaii until Captain Cook arrived at Kauai in January 1778. He was amazed to find a civilization sharing a culture and language with the peoples of the South Pacific. The Hawaiians, too, were amazed, having long since lost contact with the outside world.
Cook himself was killed in Hawaii in 1779, but he had started an irreversible process of change. Westerners reshaped the islands to suit their economic and agricultural needs, and at the same time, decimated most of the indigenous plants and animals as well as the Hawaiians themselves. Cook’s men estimated that there were a million islanders; the population today is roughly the same, but a mere eight thousand pure-blood Hawaiians are left.
As well as bringing venereal and other diseases, it reads in Hawaii State history books that Cook’s voyage opened the fur trade between the Pacific Northwest and China. Passing ships traded arms to the Hawaiians, and within a few years, Kamehameha became the first king to unite all the islands.