Monday, September 24, 2012

Hale Nauā Society

The Hale Nauā (also known as Ualo Malie (Malo)) was a secret royal society established on September 24, 1886 when King Kalākaua obtained a charter for it from the Privy Council.

William D. Alexander writes, that it was formed “not without difficulty, on account of the suspicion that was felt in regard to its character and objects.  According to its constitution it was founded forty quadrillions of years after the founding of the world, and twenty-four thousand seven hundred and fifty years from Lailai, the first woman.” The bylaws are loosely based on Masonic bylaws. (Forbes)

Alexander writes, “So far as the secret proceedings and objects of the society have transpired, it appears to have been indirectly to serve as a political machine.”  At the time the organization was also known as the “Ball and Twine Society”.  (Forbes)

According to its constitution, the society was “the revival of Ancient Sciences of Hawaii in combination with the promotion and advancement of Modern Sciences, Art, Literature, and Philanthropy.”  (Daws)

It was Kalākaua’s idea, and its membership was limited to men with Hawaiian blood – the King served as president.  (Daws)

The original hale nauā scrutinized the genealogical qualifications of those who claimed relationship to the chiefs, as Hawaiian historian David Malo described in a short passage of Moʻolelo Hawaiʻi.

The doings at the house were conducted in the following manner. When the king had entered the house and taken his seat, in the midst of a large assembly of people including many skilled genealogists, two guards were posted outside at the gate of the pa. (The guards were called kaikuono.)  (Malo)

If the genealogists who were sitting with the king recognized a suitable relationship to exist between the ancestry of the candidate and that of the king he was approved of.  (Malo)

Mary Kawena Pukui and Nathaniel B. Emerson refer to nauā or nauwe as the challenge addressed to those applying for admission.

Malo notes that "Nauā?" was the word of challenge which was addressed to everyone who presented himself for admission to this society; the meaning of which it being a question, Whence are you? What is your ancestry?   Genealogists and historians investigated claims back to the tenth generation of ancestry.  (Malo)

Kalākaua’s Hale Nauā had much broader objectives than those of the original hale nauā. While seeking to revive many elements of Hawaiian culture that were slipping away, the king also promoted the advancement of modern sciences, art and literature. (HJH)

The members of Kalākaua’s Hale Nauā undertook relatively uncontroversial activities such as wearing feather capes and cloaks of the Aliʻi (chiefs), sponsoring displays of Hawaiian artifacts at international exhibitions in Melbourne and Paris, and promoting the production of fine tapa, woodwork and shellwork.  (HJH)

Officers, guards and watchmen supervised the comings and goings of aspirants to assure the smooth functioning of the group. However, the founding members of Kalākaua’s Hale Nauā interpreted the name of the organization in two ways: initially as the "House of Wisdom" and later as the "Temple of Science" during the 1886-1891 period.  (HJH)

According to Thrum, Kalākaua, through his “Nauā Society” built the Kamauakapu Heiau in Kapahulu on the slopes on Diamond Head.  It measures approximately 11 x 15.8 feet in size and was constructed in 1888.

The new society was criticized widely among the largely haole planter-business-missionary alliance for this "new departure in Hawaiian politics," Kalākaua continued this policy while also delving deeper into Hawaiian culture.  (HJH)

During the 1880s, the population of Hawaiians continued to decline (from more than 44,000 to 34,000) as new immigrants from China, Japan and Portugal relocated to the kingdom.

It was a time of political and social turbulence in the Hawaiian kingdom.  From the early 1880s, Kalākaua sought to increase the number of native Hawaiians in government positions, hoping to reverse the domination by foreigners that began a half-century earlier.

The image shows Hawaiian Exhibits from the Hale Nauā Society exhibited in Sydney October, 1888.  In addition, there are a couple other images related to Hale Nauā Society in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.

© 2012 Hoʻokuleana LLC

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