NOAA Preserve America grant opens window to the past via online Hawaiian newspaper archive project

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Cindy Knapman, (808) 956-7410
Communications Leader, Sea Grant
Posted: Jul 19, 2016

Graduate students in the Institute of Hawaiian Language Research and Translation.
Graduate students in the Institute of Hawaiian Language Research and Translation.

Prior to the 1820’s and 1830’s, native Hawaiians passed down stories, songs and cultural traditions orally from generation to generation. Beginning in 1834, the discussions and news began to be chronicled in over 100 different Hawaiian language newspapers that ran for over 114 years and produced nearly one million letter-sized pages of text.

In an effort to make this invaluable resource available and accessible to the general public, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Pacific Islands Region (ONMS/PIR) awarded NOAA Preserve America Initiative Internal Funding (PAIIF) to the Hawaiian language organization Awaiaulu in partnership with the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant Program in 2015. Specifically, the project, Ka Wā Ma Mua, Ka Wā Ma Hope (Using the Past to Inform the Future: English Translation of Hawaiian Language Newspaper Accounts of Unusual Weather Events), focused on newspaper articles that highlighted weather and climate change in Hawai‘i.

With support from PAIFF, Hawai‘i Sea Grant developed a website that displays the original Hawaiian newspaper article and also the English language transcription. At this time there is no other academic resource available to the public that includes both the Hawaiian language text and the English transcription. Support of this online Hawaiian newspaper article archive led in part to the establishment of the new Institute of Hawaiian Language Research and Translation.

Said Dr. Puakea Nogelmeier, professor at the UH Mānoa Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, “As part of a growing effort to reconnect historical knowledge, Ka Wā Ma Mua, Ka Wā Ma Hope provides an important bridge, introducing the extensive Hawaiian-language repository to researchers and scholars in many new fields. The new research that this kind of access will inspire will make knowledge and experience from the past into new tools to use as we plan for the present and future.”

The project was a collaboration among ONMS/PIR, Hawai‘i Sea Grant, National Weather ServicePacific Risk Management ʻohanaUniversity of Hawai‘i Hawai‘inuiākea  School of Hawaiian KnowledgeUniversity of Hawai‘i Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, and Awaiaulu. Funding was also provided, in part, by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

PAIIF, now in its 12th year, supports strategies that represent current and emerging issues facing our nation and NOAA, including climate change and adaptation, cultural engagement, and historical ecology, all themes embodied in this project. 

For more information about Hawai‘i Sea Grant and the Hawaiian newspaper translation project, visit

To learn more about the NOAA Preserve America Initiative, please visit

For more information about PIR, visit

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The University of Hawai’i Sea Grant College Program is part of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s prestigious School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. It supports an innovative program of research, education and extension services directed to the improved understanding and stewardship of coastal and marine resources of the state, region and nation. Science serving Hawai’i and the Pacific since 1968.