Wai'anae History
In the Beginning
Back to Wai'anae History Index
In January of 1778 the fleet of Captain James Cook, the Resolution and Discovery first sailed by the Wai'anae coast before anchoring at Waimea on Kaua'i. Captain George Vancover sailed along Leeward Oahu in 1793. He reported a village in a grove of coconut trees at Pokai.
His log described the event as this: the village of Wai'anae there was a coconut grove in a sandy bay with a valley that was fertile, and cultivated. Another account described "a grove of coconuts on low ground through the midst of which runs a beautiful stream of clear water from the mountains."

King Kamehameha appointed Boki as governor of Oahu and chief of the Wai'anae district. He was a handsome, and ambitious young chief. John Dominis Holt III said Boki was "a man of great charisma who left his mark everywhere he went." Boki was skilled in Hawaiian medicine, especially the treatment of wounds, as taught by the kahunas. He was considered very intelligent and a highly persuasive man. His duties as governor of Oahu brought him in frequent contact with foreigners. He became one of the first chiefs to be baptized. His wife was named Liliha. Boki's older brother was Kalanimoku, prime minister and formerly Kamehameha's most  powerful advisor. His aunt was the imperious Kaahumanu, queen regent and formerly Kamehameha's favorite wife.

Around 1811 ship captains were offering trade goods in exchange for sandalwood. Trade goods included such things as pins, scissors, clothing, kitchen utensils, even ships. Vessels began to anchor along the Waianae Coast where there were large forests of sandalwood on the mountain slopes. Royalty ordered commoners to gather the sandalwood at the expense of local crop growth.  During this time the supply dwindled, debt mounted, and cultivation of local food demised. Sandalwood soon died out because there was none left to cut.

In December of 1829 Boki assembled a group of followers and set out for a newly discovered island, thick with sandalwood in the south Pacific. He was never seen again.

Boki's wife became a widow and governor of Oahu. She gave the ahupuaa of Makaha to High Chief Paki. Chief Paki was the father of Bernice Pauahi Bishop.

A census in 1835 listed 1,654 residents on the Wai'anae coast.  The people were ravaged bya new series of epidemics beginning in 1848.  Small pox began in 1853 in Honolulu and quickly spread to the Wai'anae Coast where it was not stamped out until January 1854.  Less than 800 people were left.  In 1855 one J. W. Makalena, the Wai'anae tax collector, listed these figures for taxpayers: Wai'ane Kai - 62, Kamaile - 44, Makaha - 38, Makua - 21, Maile - 9, Nanakuli - 8.  These were generally adult males.  Assuming each adult male had a family of four, estimates of population are: Wai'anae Kai - 250, Kamaile - 175, Makaha - 150, Makua - 85, Maili - 35, and Nanakuli - 30.