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Hawaiian Language Newspaper Translation Project

Between 1834 and the late 1940’s, more than 100 newspaper publications equaling approximately 125,000 pages of text in the native Hawaiian language were published for an avid and highly literate public.  These publications served as sources of traditional, cultural, historical, and political discussions of those times. 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 Hawai‘i. 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.

The Ho‘olaupa‘i Newspaper Resources project at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum was initiated to preserve the legacy of the Hawaiian-language newspapers that flourished throughout the islands for more than a century.  To date, 13,000 newspaper pages representing only a little more than 10% of the newspaper archive that has been scanned, exposed to optical character recognition (OCR), and indexed.  This information can be accessed at Approximately 50,000 pages have been scanned and are awaiting optical OCR and indexing.  Sixty-two thousand (62,000) pages have yet to be scanned. Digitizing this archive makes the data searchable, allowing scholars and researchers the ability to quantify and study the climate, ecosystems and commons management of the 19th and early 20th centuries in Hawai`i, thereby better informing ecosystem management in the 21st century.

Of particular interest to the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program (UH Sea Grant) are articles touching on marine ecosystem management in Hawai‘i, traditional and introduced fishing practices, climatic conditions, and storms and other significant weather events. However, the availability of translators is extremely scarce and is currently limited to a handful of individuals. As the need to develop capacity in Hawaiian language proficiency became clear, Dr. Richard Brock, former UH Sea Grant Extension Director, and Elizabeth Kumabe Maynard, UH  Sea Grant Regional Environmental Education Extension Agent, initiated a  pilot project with Dr. Nogelmeier to investigate the accessibility of  fisheries-related articles in the newspaper archive as well as train the next  generation of translators. Dr. Marvin “Puakea” Nogelmeier is an  Associate Professor of Hawaiian Language at the UHM Hawai‘inuiākea  School of Hawaiian Knowledge who also serves as the Director of  Awaiaulu, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the  publication of scholarly texts. He provided Hawaiian language expertise  and facilitated the partnership between UH Sea Grant and staff with the  Ho‘olaupa‘i Hawaiian Newspaper Resources project. 

The resulting collaboration generated a limited collection of 22 newspaper articles from the early 1900’s which were identified and translated into English. The articles range from proclamations by the Hawaiian royalty and landowners on reef access restrictions to master fishermen sharing their mana‘o about types of fishing nets. This collection of articles signals the needed collaboration to open up these written voices of Hawai'i’s past to share their mana'o and knowledge.

Hawaiian Newspaper Articles and Translations

Ka Ho'opakele 'Ana I Na I'a (1923)          Draft 1 - Fishing articles
      Saving the Fish