History Activities


Rice Fields in Waikīkī With Diamond Head Looming in the Background.

When you think of Waikīkī in the late 19th century, and famous Lēʻahi (Diamond Head) silhouetted against the sky, what do you picture? Did you know that the name Waikīkī means “spouting waters,” referring to the rich wetlands seen there in the past? The modern Waikīkī we know today is a very different place from the Waikīkī of a century past, when wetland agriculture was practiced in the vicinity. With the arrival of different groups of immigrant workers contracted for plantation agriculture, men from Asia who were able to stay in Hawaiʻi began to secure places to live and ways to make a living outside the plantations. Wetland agriculture shifted from growing kalo (taro) to other food plants, especially rice, across the Islands. Wet areas in historic Waikīkī were used to grow rice, although even these changes would be difficult to imagine when looking at Waikīkī today. 

Explore the history of food and the work of Bishop Museum by clicking on the images below. 

Fish Of Hawai‘i

Fish Of Hawai‘i Coloring Activity

Color and show us what your favorite poke and where you like to enjoy it! 

The History of Poke in Hawai‘i

The Pacific Ocean is a diverse ecosystem filled with a wide variety of sea life. Fish, shellfish, and other marine invertebrates are major proteins for the people of the Pacific. Among the most commonly eaten are fish like ʻahi, ʻanae, ʻōpelu, invertebrates like heʻe (octopus), ʻōpae (shrimp), ula (lobster), pāpaʻi (crab), and ʻopihi (limpets).

Native Use of Fish in Hawai'i Podcast

From “Native Use of Fish in Hawaii” Margaret Titcomb with the collaboration of MARY KAWENA PUKUI

“The second story is of Kamehameha I. According to this unrecorded tale from Mrs. Pukui, he made an agreement with a man of Kahuku (in the district of Kaʻu, island of Hawaii) that “for one calabash of poi, one fish,” and the man understood that he would get one calabash of fish. He went to the uplands, filled his calabash with poi, and came to Kamehameha, who gave him not one calabash of fish but one fish, and that a little one. Unabashed, the Kahuku man tied his one small fish to his carrying pole and went off home. All the way along his road people laughed at his one little fish dangling from his carrying pole. Our hero came again to Kamehameha with his calabash, the contents neatly covered with fresh ti leaves. He approached in the humble manner of a subject of the great king, crawling up to his presence, and he set the calabash before him. Kamehameha lifted up the ti leaves and beheld not a calabash of poi but one taro within. (Taro is the vegetable from which poi is made.) The king took the play in good part and laughed loud and long and said that they would have no more one-sided bargains. This little story is the foundation of calling the locality where the man lived Kahuku-kau-ʻao-ʻao (one-sided Kahuku).”

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