Cemetery of the Week #155: Waine’e Church Cemetery

Wainee 2Waine’e Church Cemetery
Near Waiola Church
535 Waine’e Street
Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 96761
Founded: 1823
Size: an acre or so
Number of interments: approximately 200 marked

Waine’e (Moving Water) Churchyard, established in 1823, was the first Christian cemetery in the Hawaiian islands. In it, native Hawaiians and missionaries are buried side by side.

Hawaiians consider Waine’e Churchyard sacred ground because Queen Keopuolani (Gathering of the Clouds of Heaven), the highest royalty in all Hawaii by virtue of her bloodlines, is buried there. In addition to her heritage, Keopuolani was a wife of King Kamehameha the Great and mother of Kamehameha II and III. As the first native aristocrat to be baptized a Christian, Keopuolani wielded enormous influence in the spread of Protestantism. She was baptized by request an hour before her death on September 16, 1823.

Kamehameha’s favorite wife, Queen Ka’ahumanu, is aslo here. King Kaumualii, last king of Kauai, rests here, along with High Chief Hoapili, who married two of Kamehameha’s wives after the king’s death; his wife Hoapili Wahine, governor of Maui; Kekauonohi, one of five wives of Kamehameha II and governor of Kauai in her own right; and High Chiefess Kuini Liliha, who led a rebellion of a thousand soldiers against the Western government on Oahu in 1830. Pioneer missionary Reverend William Richards is also buried here.

Wainee 1

Kahale M. Kahiamoe’s grave

Also in the churchyard stands the oldest Christian gravestone in the Hawaiian Islands, remembering a Maui islander who died of “fever” in 1829. Nearby, a simple tablet stone commemorates Kahale M. Kahiamoe, who lived from 1804 to 1908, 104 years, long enough to see the invasion of the outside world, the end of the kapus and the Hawaiian monarchy, and the establishment of Hawaii as a US territory in 1900. Shell leis draped the rusted iron fence enclosing his grave.

The Waine’e Church itself no longer stands. Completed in 1832, it was the first stone church in the islands and served as the church of the Hawaiian royalty when Lahaina was the capital of the kingdom through the mid-1840s. A whirlwind tore off its roof and knocked down its belfry in 1858. A careless caretaker burned the church to its walls in June 1894. After it burned again in 1947, it was rebuilt once more. Another windstorm permanently demolished it in 1951.

Wainee 3The church’s name was changed to Waiola (Water of Life) in 1954. Now owned by the Waiola Protestant Church, the building has continued to stand safely ever since. The old cemetery and the current church stand on almost 2.5 acres on Waine’e Street, between Chapel and Shaw Streets, not far from the Seamen’s Cemetery.

According to one source, the Waine’e church inspired Reverend Abner Hale’s mission church in James Michener’s Hawai’i.

Useful links:

The cemetery’s website

Waiola Church history

Ho’okuleana encyclopedia of Hawaiian history

Other Hawaiian cemeteries on Cemetery Travel:

Seamen’s Cemetery in Lahaina, Maui

USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Oahu

Kawaiaha’o Churchyard, Honolulu, Oahu

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Keawala’i Churchyard, Makena, Maui

St. Philomena Churchyard, Kalaupapa National Historic Site, Molokai

About Loren Rhoads

I'm the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, as well as a space opera trilogy. In addition to blogging at CemeteryTravel.com, I blog about my morbid life at lorenrhoads.com.
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