Honors Theses

Mohala Nā Pua Kahiki: An Exploration of the Kānaka ʻŌiwi Past in Diaspora

Author Full Name
Josiah Josef Keoni Quon Rodriguez


Dr. Michael Wilcox

Second Reader: 

Dr. Teresa LaFromboise 

Third Reader:

Dr. Karen Biestman 

Public Service Scholars Program Advisor:

Dr. Joanne Tien

Public Service Scholars Program Advisor: 

Dr. Clayton Hurd


This thesis is a twofold project - at once, Mōhala Nā Pua Kahiki is the cultivation of a research methodology centering Kanaka Maoli epistemology and ontology and the application of this methodology to understand the Kanaka Maoli diaspora in California through a multidisciplinary lens. Firstly, this thesis investigates personal contradictions in the discipline of history that conflict with Kanaka Maoli epistemes of relationship and multiplicity. From there, using the Hawaiian ethnolinguistic orientation to time, where ka wā mua (the time before) is the past and ka wā hope (the time behind) is the future, a philosophical foundation for research is constructed that allows researchers to apply to the past the same theories of knowledge used to produce beliefs about the natural world. This thesis constructs a methodology using foundations of research proffered by Hawaiian scholars in history, Hawaiian studies, ecology, and culture studies that incorporates methods from a number of disciplines and sets forth principles using Hawaiian cultural values. By exploring a personal relationship in relation to research subjects, kilo mua serves to allow Hawaiians to procure and articulate a stronger proximity to Hawaiianness through the attainment of ʻike about the past. The second component of this thesis is an application of kilo mua to the Hawaiian diaspora. Three research sites, dubbed wāhi, which combines the Hawaiian words for time and place, are explored: a traditional moʻolelo called “Ka Ipumakani a Laamaomao”, a brief study of William Heath Mahi Davis, and ethnographic interviews conducted with diaspora Hawaiians. Through these wāhi, the Hawaiian cultural motifs of moʻokūʻauhau (genealogy), kuleana (responsibility), and ʻike (knowledge) are explored reflexively both in regards to the wāhi as well as the author’s personal journey, which is investigated through autoethnographic asides that bookend each chapter.

View final Honors Thesis here.