Tag Archives: Maui cemetery

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea

View of Keawala’i Churchyard

View of Keawala’i Churchyard

The sky wasn’t blue the day I visited Keawala’i Churchyard, but that was okay.  My mom was recovering from surgery that removed melanoma from her upper arm, leaving her with a hole the size of a bar of soap.  They’d gotten all the cancer and it wouldn’t spread, but we didn’t know that yet.  We were being very careful to stay out of the sun as much as we could.

We’d spent our trip to Hawaii rushing around.  Mom liked to take tours, so we’d taken a bus around Oahu and visited the Iolani Palace.  On Maui, we’d been to a former sugar plantation, the whaling museum, and on a whale watch.  Now that our trip was winding down, I’d finally talked Mom into sitting on the beach.  We were on our way to Makena’s Big Beach when we found the little cemetery.

Mom knows how I am.  She got me started visiting cemeteries.  Now she visits them in my name when she’s traveling and takes pictures for me.  That day on Maui, she was content to let me wander from gravestone to gravestone, photographing everything that caught my eye.

I found a section that held only tiny plaques.  At first I thought they were remembrances of people whose ashes had been scattered in the ocean.  Then I realized they commemorated people who had been lost at sea.

I stood just inside the rough lava rock wall and looked out at the water.  I tried to envision the globe, with Hawaii as a series of specks in the large blue ocean.  Until that moment, I’d avoided thinking how fragile life is.

I turned and looked immediately for my mom.  The darkness had come so close to taking her from me, but I wasn’t ready to let her go yet.

Cemetery of the Week #106: Keawala’i Churchyard

Keawala'i Congregational Church

Keawala’i Congregational Church

Keawala’i Congregational Church
5300 Makena Road
Makena, Maui, Hawaii 96753
Telephone: 808-879-5557
Founded: 1832
Size: small
Number of interments: 100?
Church office hours: Wednesday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

South of the Wailea Shopping Village, as you head toward Big Beach with its view of Molokini across the water, Makena Road narrows and draws closer to the ocean. Between the blacktop and the water stands a low wall of rough black lava stones, which surrounds Keawala’i Churchyard.

Grave of Elisa and Susie

Grave of Elisa and Susie

Keawala’i Church is one of a dozen missionary churches remaining on Maui from the mid-1800s. The churches ringed the island, each a full day’s horse-ride from the next. Itinerant preachers traveled the circuit, visiting each church in turn to bring the gospel to the Hawaiians. When the Keawala’i congregation was founded in 1832, they built their original church of pili grass. The current building dates from 1855, making it the oldest surviving church on Maui according to some sources.

Keawala’i Church was built in a low New England style with a wood-shingled steeple rising from its peaked roof. Hawaiians fashioned the church out of lava rock mortared together with white coral and faced inside with native koa wood. Its walls are three feet thick.

When Architects Maui, a preservationist outfit, replaced the original 84-year-old floor, they discovered “sensitive cultural remnants” beneath it. In order to protect the “historic materials below,” they built a new floor of native ohia hardwood four inches above where the old one had rested. The church asks that you remove your shoes before entering.

Keawala’i Church appears in guidebooks mostly in connection with wedding planning. Its Congregationalist minister will perform ceremonies—partially in Hawaiian—after he meets any bride and groom. One of the wedding planners set me off when she directed, “Don’t let the cemetery intimidate you, as most churches have them on their sites.”

Rhoads_Keawalai_guitarWaymarking.com says that the cemetery has graves dating back to the founding of the church. The palm tree-shaded little graveyard felt very peaceful to me. A lava stone breakwater shields it on the ocean side, but the surf made a low, sweet accompaniment as I walked amongst the tombstones. Most monuments are simple upright blocks on a granite riser or two, surrounded by a cement curb. Many of the stones have ceramic portraits attached to their faces. One of my favorites was David Kimohewa’s, in which he propped a guitar on his knee. He looked like a very genial man.

On the very edge of the land cluster small plaques set flush with the ground. These plaques remember people lost at sea: fishermen, divers, surfers, children, old men, people for whom the families had no bodies to bury.

The congregation welcomes visitors to their churchyard, but they ask visitors to respect their ancestors and refrain from stepping or sitting on the graves. It’s a lovely little place that gives a taste of what life in the islands is really like.

Some useful links:

The church’s homepage

Driving directions

GPS coordinates

Information on the floor restoration

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