Book Reveiw

Andrade, Carlos, Hā‘ena:  Through the Eyes of the Ancestors

Throughout history writing has been a tool used to teach and preserve cultures and ideas. In the past century Hawaii has been slowly losing the unique native culture, heritage, and practices. Ha’ena is considered to be one of the last places in Hawaii that has clung to the Hawaiian days of old, but has also started to loosen their grip on the Hawaiian past as more foreign influences come in. Carlos Andrade, the author of Ha’ena, has had the opportunity to experience the old Hawaiian way of life and thus noticed the loss of Hawaiian practices and culture. While reading  Hā‘ena one will notice that Andrade is using this book as a tool teach of and in essence preserve the Hawaiian culture and way of life. To accomplish this, Andrade writes to three audiences: academia, the Hawaiian community, and those foreign to Hawaii. To effectively reach these audiences Andrade employs a variety of writing and research methods.

Of the three audiences of  Hā‘ena, Andrade writes to academia and this is evident through the way Andrade composed Ha’ena. It is clear that Ha’ena is a piece of multidisciplinary scholarly research that branches to and it employs various research methodology such as analyzing and interpreting primary resources like property records, laws and statutes. Andrade also conducts interviews with locals in Ha’ena to gather information, personal experiences and oral histories. In Ha’ena Andrade gives a historical account of Hawaii and the Native Hawaiian’s way of life which would could be used by historians and anthropologists alike. The political science aspect of Ha’ena is how Andrade addresses the government system of Hawaii in pre and post western contact times and the effects of imposing a foreign political system on a society.

While reading Ha’ena a personal connection was formed and I was able to relate to the book maybe more than those who are not from Hawaii because of my Hawaiian ancestry. The next intended and perhaps primary audience of Ha’ena is the Hawaiian community. It appears that one of the goals for Andrade, with this book, is to teach the Hawaiians of today what life was like for the Hawaiians of old. For example, while I read this book I learned new things about my heritage and saw things in a more personal perspective, despite having grown up in Hawaii. This just an example of the many Hawaiians who are unaware of their heritage.

Throughout Ha’ena Andrade teaches or Hawaiians of their people’s beliefs and practices. This is seen when Andrade retells the Hawaiian creation story of how they believed to have come from the land and the taro plant; then explaining why the land is important to Hawaiians (pgs 5-6). Andrade incorporates many interviews with locals and includes their interviews in Hawaiian creole, or pidgin. This is most likely done not just to authenticate his claims, but to bring this book to a relatable and personal level with Hawaiians.

On page 144 Andrade talks about the life of Thomas Hashimoto and how, “he accompanied his father, who always referred by traditional Hawaiian names of the locations where the fish were caught.” Andrade sees a significance in using Hawaiian names words and uses them in this book to refer to things, for example the word ali’i instead of chief. He does this as way to see things the way the ancestors did, like Hashimoto’s father who also thought it was important to keep the Hawaiian names for places.

Today many Hawaiians feel people from the mainland U.S. are unaware of the struggle of the Native Hawaiian people and the disruption of an age old political system that was brought by westerners. This causes frustration, misunderstanding, and animosity towards foreigners. Lastly, this book was also written to those foreign to Hawaii. Andrade wants to make these people aware of a history that is not always known or shied from to create a better understanding as a foundation to a bridge between two cultures. In Ha’ena one sees the impact of western ideas such private property ownership had on the Hawaiian way of life. He touches upon topics ranging from annexation to wealthy business men buying up large numbers of plots of land and how a culture is dying. Andrade shows the non-Hawaiian community what Hawaii was really like and how the people used to live.

In the last chapter of Ha’ena, Andrade writes of his personal experiences in Ha’ena demonstrating that this book was not written on a distant or dilettante’s standpoint and shows his desire and personal affiliation to revive and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture. With this research Andrade has conducted, he used this book to preserve the Hawaiian culture through sharing information in academia and teaching both the Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian communities. All three audiences are vital in the restoration and preservation of the Hawaiian culture. Ha’ena allows readers to see things through the perspectives of the ancestors thus charging the reader to keep the Hawaii of old from fading into history.



Works Cited


Andrade, Carlos. Haena: Through the Eyes of the Ancestors. Honolulu, HI, USA: University of Hawaii Press, 2008.


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