Zanea Panea (Z.P.) Kalokuokamaile

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Native Hawaiian, Language, Cultural Activism, Journalism

Zanea Panea (Z.P.) Kalokuokamaile


Z. P. Kalokuokamaile was the writer of perhaps the greatest longevity in the Hawaiian-language newspapers (nūpepa ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi). He was born in 1850 in Nāpoʻopoʻo, Kona Hema, Hawaiʻi, where he lived most of his long life. His first name was Zapena Panea, an ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi version of the biblical name Zaphnath-Paaneah (In the Baibala Hemolele, Hawaiian-language bible, it is spelled Sapenapanea). His last name, Kalokuokamaile, is his great-great-great grandfather’s, son of the illustrious Kalaninuikupuapāikalani Keōua, the father of Kamehameha I. When he was about sixty years old he began appending an epithet for his district of Kona Hema, Kawaikaumaiikamakaokaopua, to his initials on many of his newspaper publications. 

Kalokuokamaile was well educated in ancient Hawaiian lore; certain arts considered the purview of kāhuna, like canoe construction; and the practical arts of living in old Hawaiʻi, including fishing and fish net-making, farming, and house-building. He learned from and alongside his father, who trained with kāhuna specializing in canoe construction. This training included living in the upland forest for short periods and learning up to 400 different plant and tree names and their uses.  He also learned mele (song and other poetic genres) and other ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi literary arts, including understanding and explaining kaona, the characteristic metaphors and hidden meanings in prose and mele, and constructing and solving confoundingly difficult nane (riddles and word puzzles). He was equally well educated in the American missionary schools of the time. He was among a fortunate few selected to attend the secondary school of Lahainaluna in 1872. Besides the general courses, he learned surveying, navigation, and astronomy. 

Between 1876 and 1914, Kalokuokamaile worked as a schoolteacher at Keʻei in Kona Hema “a piha loa na kula i ka olelo Beretania, alaila, pau iho la wau,” or “until the schools were completely full of English, and then I was done.” Both in his time and after, he has been recognized as an authority on many fields of Hawaiian knowledge. He was dedicated to Hawaiian continuing as a living language, and until he was 90 years old, he regularly contributed an astonishing variety of news articles, legends, descriptions of ancient house-building, and nane to various nūpepa. In Native Planters in Old Hawaii (Handy, Handy, Pukui, 1972), the authors quoted from and cited his articles and interviews on springs in Kona, taro farming, and types of heiau. In Kalokuokamaile’s obituary, the editor of Hoku o Hawaii called him an “olohe huli mea pohihihi, an expert who researched the mysterious, or things that are not commonly understood. 

Among his prolific writings, virtually all in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, are:

“Kekahi Mau Mea Ulu Kahiko o Hawaii” (Some Ancient Plants of Hawaiʻi). Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Sep. 18, 1914, 3.

“Ka Olelo Hawaii” (The Hawaiian Language). Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Jun. 18, 1920, 3. (An appeal to perpetuate the language.)

“Ke Kukulu Hale ana o ka Wa Kahiko ame na Loina” (House Construction and Customs in Ancient Times). Ka Hoku O Hawaii, Jan. 18, 1923 to Mar. 15, 1923 (7 installments).

Noenoe K. Silva