Traditional Use and Management of Natural Resources in the Hawaiian Islands

  • Edward W. Glazier
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Natural Resource Management book series (PSNRM)


Few island societies succeeded in managing the natural world in the grand manner of Native Hawaiians. Even during centuries of population decline and tribulation, ecological knowledge sustained the Hawaiian family and community. This relates to the fact that many descendants of the original settlers consistently resisted undesirable changes and adopted those deemed useful. This chapter describes the nature of such resistance and the persistence of traditional knowledge and use of natural resources around the islands during the historic period. The discussion focuses especially on fishing methods, gear, and management strategies, including the traditional system of kapu (regulations) and oversight of fishing activities by local experts.


  1. Abbott, I. A. (1992). Lā‘au Hawai‘i—Traditional Hawaiian Uses of Plants. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press.Google Scholar
  2. Abbott, I. A. (1999, January). Personal Communication. Department of Botany, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa,Honolulu.Google Scholar
  3. ʻAha Pūnana Leo. (2018). A Timeline of Revitalization. E Ola Ka ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi—The Hawaiian Language Shall Live. Hilo. Available at
  4. Allen, S. (2013). Carving a Niche of Cutting a Broad Swath: Subsistence Fishing in the Western Pacific. Pacific Science, 67(3), 477–488. In Special Issue of Pacific Science—Human Dimensions of Small-Scale and Traditional Fisheries in the Asia-Pacific Region (J. Kittinger & E. W. Glazier, Eds.).Google Scholar
  5. Andrade, C. (2008). Hāʻena: Through the Eyes of the Ancestors. A Latitude 20 Book. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
  6. Beckley, E. M. (1883). Hawaiian Fisheries and Methods of Fishing with an Account of the Fishing Implements Used by the Natives of the Hawaiian Islands. Honolulu: Advertiser Steam Print.Google Scholar
  7. Blaisdell, K. (1996, April 28). Historical and Philosophical Aspects of Lapaʻau—Traditional Kanaka Maoli Healing Practices. In Motion Magazine. Available at
  8. Bushnell, O. A. (1986). Foreword to Treasury of Hawaiian Words: In One Hundred and One Categories (H. W. Kent, Ed.). Honolulu: University of Hawaiian Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bushnell, O. A. (1993). The Gifts of Civilization—Germs and Genocide in Hawaii. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press.Google Scholar
  10. Campbell, A. (1819). A Voyage Around the World. New York: Broderick and Ritter.Google Scholar
  11. Chan, D. (1994, August). Kāhuna Lāʻau Lapaʻau: Issues and Concerns Involved in Potential Licensure (Unpublished paper). University of Hawaii School of Public Health. On file with Papa Ola Lokahi. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  12. Chan, H. L., & Pan, M. (2017). Economic and Social Characteristics of the Hawaii Small Boat Fishery 2014. U.S. Department of Commerce. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOAA-TM-NMFS-PIFSC-63. 107 pp.
  13. Chun, M. N. (1989). Ka Moʻolelo Laikini Lāʻau Lapaʻau: The History of Licensing Traditional Native Practitioners. Honolulu: Hawaiʻi State Department of Health. Health and Education Branch.Google Scholar
  14. Chun, M. N. (2009a). It Might Do Good: The Licensing of Medicinal Kāhuna. Honolulu: First Peoples’ Productions.Google Scholar
  15. Chun, M. N. (2009b). Hoʻonohonohono—Traditional Ways of Cultural Management. Ka Wana Series. Curriculum Research and Development Group, University of Hawiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  16. Churchill, W., & Venue, S. H. (2004). Islands in Captivity—The International Tribunal on the Rights of Indigenous Hawaiians. Cambridge, MA: Southend Press.Google Scholar
  17. Clark, J. R. K. (2011). Hawaiian Surfing: Traditions from the Past. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
  18. Cobb, J. N. (1905). The Commercial Fisheries of the Hawaiian Islands: III (Reprinted in the U.S. Fish Commission, Bulletin No. 23).Google Scholar
  19. Connors, R. H. (2009). Gender, Status and Shellfish in Precontact Hawaii. Thesis completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Arts in anthropology. San Jose State University, San Jose.Google Scholar
  20. Corney, P. (1896). Voyages in the Northern Pacific, 1813–1818. Honolulu: Thomas G. Thrum.Google Scholar
  21. Damon, S. C. (1869). Puritan Missions in the Pacific: A Discourse Delivered at Honolulu, (S. I.,) on the Anniversary of the Hawaiian Evangelical Association. Sabbath Evening, June 1866 (First American ed., Rev. H. Bingham, Ed.). Printed for J. Hunnewell by Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor. New Haven, CT.Google Scholar
  22. Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. (2018). Summary of Hawaiian Homes Commission Act as Amended. Available at
  23. Donlin, A. L. (2010). When All the Kāhuna Are Gone: Evaluating Hawaʻii’s Traditional Hawaiian Healers Law. Asian-Pacific Law and Policy Journal, 12(1), 211–248.Google Scholar
  24. Geslani, C., Loke, M., Takenaka, B., & Leung, P. (2012). Hawaii’s Seafood Consumption and Its Supply Sources. SOEST Publication 12–01, JIMAR Contribution 12–379. Pelagic Fisheries Research Program, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  25. Glazier, E. W. (2002). A Sociological Analysis of Fishing Hawaiian-Style. Dissertation submitted to the Graduate Division of the University of Hawaiʽi at Mānoa in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctorate in Sociology, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  26. Glazier, E. W. (2007). Hawaiian Fishermen. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth-Cengage Publishers.Google Scholar
  27. Glazier, E. W. (Ed.). (2011). Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management in the Western Pacific. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  28. Glazier, E. W., & Kittinger, J. (2012). Fishing, Seafood, and Community Research in the Main Hawaiian Islands: A Case Study of Hanalei Bay, Kauaʻi (Final Technical Report). Prepared for the State of Hawaiʻi, Division of Aquatic Resources, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  29. Glazier, E. W., Carothers, C., Milne, N., & Iwamoto, M. (2013). Seafood and society on Oʽahu in the Main Hawaiian Islands. Pacific Science, 67(3). In Special Issue of Pacific Science—Human Dimensions of Small-Scale and Traditional Fisheries in the Asia-Pacific Region (J. Kittinger & E. W. Glazier, Eds.).Google Scholar
  30. Glazier, E. W., Shackeroff, J., & Carothers, C. (2009). A Report on Historic and Contemporary Patterns of Change in Hawaiʽi-Based Pelagic Handline Fishing Operations. SOEST Publication 09–01. Pelagic Fisheries Research Program, University of Hawaii at Mānoa, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  31. Goo, S. K. (2015, April). After 200 years, Native Hawaiians Make a Comeback. Facttank: Pew Research Center. Available at
  32. Gosline, W. A., & Brock, V. E. (1960). Handbook of Hawaiian Fishes. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.Google Scholar
  33. Goto, A. (1986). Prehistoric Ecology and Economy of Fishing in Hawaii: An Ethnoarchaeological Approach. Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the doctoral degree in anthropology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  34. Groube, L. M. (1971). Tonga, Lapita Pottery, and Polynesian Origins. Journal of the Polynesian Society, 80, 278–316.Google Scholar
  35. Handy, E. S. C., Handy, E. G., & Pukui, M. K. (1972). Native Planters in Old Hawaii—Their Life, Lore, and Environment. Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 233. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press.Google Scholar
  36. Hasager, U., & Kelly, M. (2001). Public Policy of Land and Homesteading in Hawaiʻi. Social Process in Hawaiʻi, 20, 1–31. Available at
  37. Holmes, T. (1993). Provisions for Polynesian Voyages. In The Hawaiian Canoe (2nd ed.). Hanalei, Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi: Editions Unlimited Publishers.Google Scholar
  38. Hommon, R. J. (1976). The Formation of Primitive States in Pre-contact Hawaii. Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctorate in Anthropology at the University of Arizona, Tucson.Google Scholar
  39. Hommon, R. J. (2000, May). Personal Communication. U.S. Department of the Interior. Hawaiʻi Island: National Park Service.Google Scholar
  40. Hong, C. (2013). The Power of the Hula: A Performance Text for Appropriating Identity Among First Hawaiian Youth. Dissertation presented to the faculty of the School of Education Leadership Studies Department, Organization and Leadership Program in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Education, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  41. Irwin, G. (2006). Voyaging and Settlement. In K. R. Howe (Ed.), Vaka Moana—Voyages of the Ancestors. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
  42. Iversen, R. T., Dye, T., & Paul, L. M. (1990). Native Hawaiian Fishing Rights. Phase One: The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and Phase 2: The Main Hawaiian Islands and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Prepared for The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  43. Jokiel, P. L., Rodgers, K. S., Walsh, W. J., Polhemus, D. A., & Wilhelm, T. A. (2011). Marine Resource Management in the Hawaiian Archipelago: The Traditional Hawaiian System in Relation to the Western Approach. Journal of Marine Biology, 2011, 1–16.Google Scholar
  44. Judd, N. L. M. (1998). Lāʻau lapaʻau: Herbal Healing Among Contemporary Hawaiian Healers. Pacific Health Dialog, 5(2), 239–245.Google Scholar
  45. Kaʻaiʻai, C. (2018, December). Personal Communication. Former coordinator of indigenous programs at the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  46. Kahāʻulelio, A. D. (1902, February and March). Fishing Lore. In M. K. Pukui (Trans.), Nupepa Kuokoa. Honolulu: Bishop Museum.Google Scholar
  47. Kahāʻulelio, A. D. (2006). Ka ʻOihana LawaiʻaHawaiian Fishing Traditions (M. Puakea Nogelmeir, Ed. and M. K. Pukui, Trans.). Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press.Google Scholar
  48. Kamakau, S. M. (1976). Na Hana a ka Po‘e Kahiko (The Works of the People of Old). Translated from the Newspaper Ke Au ‘Oko‘a by M. K. Pukui. Arranged and edited by D. B. Barrere. Bernice Bishop Museum Special Publication 61. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press.Google Scholar
  49. Kamakau, S. M. (1992). Ruling Chiefs (Rev. ed.). Original edition compiled in 1961. Honolulu: Kamehameha Schools.Google Scholar
  50. Kawaharada, D. (Ed.). (2006). Hawaiian Fishing Traditions. Honolulu: Noio/Kalamakū Press.Google Scholar
  51. Kirch, P. V. (1974). The Chronology of Early Hawaiian Settlement. Archaeology and Physical Anthropology in Oceania (APAO), 9, 110–119.Google Scholar
  52. Kirch, P. V. (1984). The Evolution of Polynesian Chiefdoms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Kirch, P. V. (1985). Feathered Gods and Fishhooks: An Introduction to Hawaiian Archaeology and Prehistory. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.Google Scholar
  54. Kirch, P. V., Mertz-Kraus, R., & Sharp, W. D. (2015, January). Precise Chronology of Polynesian Temple Construction and Use for Southeastern Maui, Hawaiian Islands Determined by 230Th dating of Corals. Journal of Archaeological Science, 53, 166–177.Google Scholar
  55. Kittinger, J. N., Teneva, L. T., Koike, H., Stamoulis, K. A., Kittinger, D. S., Oleson, K. L. L., et al. (2015). From Reef to Table: Social and Ecological Factors Affecting Coral Reef Fisheries, Artisanal Seafood Supply Chains, and Seafood Security. PLoS ONE, 10(8). Published 5 August 2015. Scholar
  56. Kosaki, R. H. (1954). Konohiki Fishing Rights (Report No. 1). Honolulu: Legislative Reference Bureau.Google Scholar
  57. Kupau, S. (2004). Judicial Enforcement of Official Indigenous Languages: A Comparative Analysis of the Maori and Hawaiian Struggles for Cultural Language Rights. University of Hawaii Law Review, 26, 495–535.Google Scholar
  58. Kuykendall, R. S. (1967). The Hawaiian Kingdom 1874–1893, the Kalakaua Dynasty. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
  59. Langlas, C. (2003). Kau Lāʻau and Maʻamaʻ: Traditional Hawaiian Ulua Fishing. Pili Productions. Hilo.Google Scholar
  60. Lincoln, N. K., & Vitousek, P. M. (2017). Indigenous Polynesian Agriculture in Hawaii. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science. Oxford University Press, USA. Available at
  61. Lowe, M. K. (2004). The Status of Inshore Fisheries Ecosystems in the Main Hawaiian Islands at the Dawn of the Millennium: Cultural Impacts, Fisheries Trends and Management Challenges. In A. M. Friedlander (Ed.), Status of Hawai‘i’s Coastal Fisheries in the New Millennium (pp. 12–107). Honolulu: Hawai‘i Audubon Society.Google Scholar
  62. MacCaughey, V. (1917). The Food Plants of the Ancient Hawaiians. The Scientific Monthly, 4(1), 75–80.Google Scholar
  63. Maly, K., & Maly, O. (2002). He Wahi Mo‘olelo ʻohana No Kaloko me Honokōhau ma Kekaha o Na Kona—A Collection of Family Traditions Describing Customs, Practices, and Beliefs of the Family and Lands of Kaloko and Honokōhau, North Kona, Island of Hawai‘i. Hilo: Kumu Pono Associates.Google Scholar
  64. Maly, K., & Maly, O. (2003). Ka Hana Lawai‘a A Me Na Ko‘a O Na Kai ‘Ewalu: A History of Fishing Practices and Marine Fisheries of the Hawaiian Islands (Vols. I and II). Hilo: Kumu Pono Associates. Prepared for the Nature Conservancy and Kamehameha Schools.Google Scholar
  65. McGregor, D. (2007). Na Kuaʻaina: Living Hawaiian Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
  66. Meller, N. (1985). Indigenous Ocean Rights in Hawaii. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program, Sea Grant Marine Policy and Law Report. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  67. Melrose, J., Perroy, R., & Cares, S. (2016). Statewide Agricultural Land Use Baseline 2015. Prepared for the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture by the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, Spatial Data Analysis & Visualization Research Lab, Hilo.Google Scholar
  68. Newman, S. (1970). Hawaiian Fishing and Farming on the Island of Hawai‘i: A.D. 1778. Honolulu: State of Hawai‘i, Department of Land and Natural Resources.Google Scholar
  69. Niʻihau Cultural Heritage Foundation. (2018). The Language of Niihau. Available at
  70. NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center. (2018). Hawaii Bottomfish Heritage Interviews. Infographic (various technical products forthcoming). Honolulu. Programmatic blog entry available at
  71. Nogelmeier, P. (2006). Ka ʻOihana Lawaiʻa—Hawaiian Fishing Traditions (M. Puakea Nogelmeir, Ed. and M. K. Pukui, Trans.). Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press.Google Scholar
  72. Ogawa, M. (2015). Sea of Opportunity: The Japanese Pioneers of the Fishing Industry in Hawaiʻi. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Oliver, D. (2002). Polynesia in Early Historic Times. Honolulu: Bess Press.Google Scholar
  74. Papa Ola Lokahi. (2008). Chronology of Events Relating to Traditional Hawaiian Healing Practices Since 1985. Honolulu. Available at
  75. Paulo, W. (2002, January). Personal Communication. Miloliʻi, Hawaiʻi.Google Scholar
  76. Poepoe, K. K., Bartram, P. K., & Friedlander, A. M. (2003). The Use of Traditional Hawaiian Knowledge in the Contemporary Management of Marine Resources. In Putting Fishers’ Knowledge to Work (pp. 328–339). Vancouver, Canada: Fisheries Centre Research Report, University of British Columbia.Google Scholar
  77. Schug, D. (2001). Hawaii’s Commercial Fishing Industry: 1820–1945. The Hawaiian Journal of History, 35, 15–34.Google Scholar
  78. Scobie, R. (1949). The Technology and Economics of Fishing in Relationship to Hawaiian Culture. Thesis completed in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the Master’s degree in economics, London School of Economics, London.Google Scholar
  79. Severance, C., Franco, R., Hamnett, M., Anderson, C., & Aitaoto, F. (2013). Effort Triggers, Fish Flow, and Customary Exchange in American Samoa and the Northern Marianas: Critical Human Dimensions of Western Pacific Fisheries. Pacific Science, 67(3), 383–393. In Special Issue of Pacific Science—Human Dimensions of Small-Scale and Traditional Fisheries in the Asia-Pacific Region (J. Kittinger & E. W. Glazier, Eds.).Google Scholar
  80. Sibert, J. (2018). Assessing a portion of the Pacific thunnus albacares stock: Ahi in the main Hawaiian Islands. ArXiv pre-print archive. Available at
  81. Silva, N. K. (2000). He kanāwai e ho’opau i na hula kuolo Hawai‘i: The Political Economy of Banning the Hula. Hawaiian Journal of History, 34, 29–48.Google Scholar
  82. Silva, N. K. (2004a). Aloha Betrayed—Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism. Durham and London: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Silva, N. K. (2004b, June). The Importance of Hawaiian Language Sources for Understanding the Hawaiian Past. ESC. Reader’s Forum, 30(2), 4–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. State of Hawaii, Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism. (2000, May). Construction and Hawaii’s Economy. Economic Analysis Division. Honolulu.Google Scholar
  85. Stecyk, C. (1993). Hoʻolina. Patagonia Ad. Surfer’s Journal, 2(4), 128.Google Scholar
  86. Stout, M. A. (2012). Native American Boarding Schools. Landmarks of the American Mosaic (series). Greenwood Publishers. An Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC. Santa Barbara, CA.Google Scholar
  87. Tabrah, R. (1984). Hawaii: A History. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  88. Teneva, L. T., Schemmel, E., & Kittinger, J. N. (2018). State of the Plate: Assessing Present and Future Contribution of Fisheries and Aquaculture to Hawai‘i’s Food Security. Marine Policy. Accepted April 18. Scholar
  89. Titcomb, M., & Pukui, M. K. (1951). Native Use of Fish in Hawai‛i. Memoir 29. Supplement to the Journal of the Polynesian Society (Installment No. 1), 1–96.Google Scholar
  90. Townsend, C. K. M. (2014). Impacts of Hawaiian Language Loss and Promotion Via the Linguistic Landscape. A dissertation submitted to the Graduate Division of the University of Hawaii at Manoa in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Public Health, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  91. Valeri, V. (1985). Kingship and Sacrifice—Ritual and Society in Ancient Hawaii (P. Wissing, Trans.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  92. Vaughan, M. B., & Ayers, A. L. (2016). Customary Access: Sustaining Local Control of Fishing and Food on Kaua‘i’s North Shore. Food, Culture & Society., 19(3), 517–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Vaughan, M. B., & Vitousek, P. M. (2013). Mahele: Sustaining Communities Through Small-Scale Inshore Fishery Catch and Sharing Networks. Pacific Science, 67(3), 329–344. In Special Issue of Pacific Science—Human Dimensions of Small-Scale and Traditional Fisheries in the Asia-Pacific Region (J. Kittinger & E. W. Glazier, Eds.).Google Scholar
  94. Yuen, H. S. (1979). A Night Handline Fishery for Tunas in Hawaii. Marine Fisheries Review, 41(8), 7–14.Google Scholar
  95. Yuen, H. S. (2016, August). Personal Communication. Oral history interview conducted as part of the Voices of the Fishery Science Centers project undertaken by the U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA Fisheries, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Honolulu.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward W. Glazier
    • 1
  1. 1.Wrightsville BeachUSA

Personalised recommendations