The 20th anniversary of the return of Henry ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia, Hawai‘i’s first known and documented Christian scholar, will be celebrated on August 17 at Kahikolu Congregational Church in Nāpo‘opo‘o, South Kona.
‘Ōpūkaha‘ia, a 19th century Hawaiian from Hawai‘i Island, left Kealakekua Bay in 1808 aboard a merchant ship bound for the east coast of the United States. Upon arrival, he enrolled in linguistic studies at Yale University and soon assimilated into Christian culture. These acts made him a prominent figure in American society, most especially amongst the religious community.
Though a fond wish of his, ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia did not return to Hawai‘i in his lifetime. He remained on the continent until his passing in 1818 of Typhoid fever. News of his death and burial caused much distress for the Hawaiian community. It took relatives nearly two centuries, but his deathbed request to return home was finally honored in 1993.
Archaeologists unearthed ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia’s remains from their 175-year resting place, and discovered his bones intact. He was placed in a koa casket and began a tour of memorial services in Connecticut, on O‘ahu, and around Hawai‘i Island. He was laid to rest in August 1993 at Kahikolu Congregational Church, where the August 17 event will be held.
The day will include readings, music and fellowship celebrating and commemorating the young Hawaiian’s life accomplishments, and the 20th anniversary of his homecoming. Many of the people who played a part in that historical homecoming will be on hand.
For more information on the event or to RSVP, contact Deborah Lee at email@example.com or (808) 443-1268. Also, find ‘Ahahui ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia on Facebook at facebook.com/AhahuiOpukahaia.