Ka Nupepa Kuokoa editor David Kanewanui

David Kanewanui (1875-1902), the editor of the Hawaiian language newspaper Ka Nupepa Kuokoa (The Independent Newspaper) from 1901 to 1902, was born at Hanalei, Kauai, and was a graduate of Kamehameha School, Oahu, Class of 1894.

Thereafter, he became a teacher at Olowalu School, Maui, for a time before moving on to teach at Hilo Boarding School, prior to accepting a position as a clerk in the government auditor’s office at Honolulu.

Then, in 1901, Henry Martyn Whitney — who was born at Waimea, Kauai, the son of missionaries Samuel and Mercy Partridge Whitney, and was the founder and owner of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser (predecessor of The Honolulu Advertiser) and Ka Nupepa Kuokoa — hired him as editor of Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, which ran in circulation from 1861 to 1927 and was the most popular Hawaiian language journal of its time.

Kanewanui was courteous, pleasant, well-liked and competent; moreover, the popularity and the circulation of Ka Nupepa Kuokoa grew under his editorial policy.

All subjects published in Ka Nupepa Kuokoa were handled by him in what he believed to be in the best interests of Native Hawaiians.

Of special interest to him was the recording of Hawaiian ways and knowledge, one of which, for example, was fishing, of which he wrote: “The knowledge possessed by our kupuna is disappearing, and it is good to record some of that knowledge, along with how they caught the fish of the land, within a book or within some newspapers, so that they can always be recalled as long as there are Hawaiians who can seek this treasured knowledge until it is exhausted, and its benefits will be for all. Through knowledge will the public be educated, and this is our focus, and not worthless complaining.”

Tragically, David Kanewanui died on May 22, 1902, at Queen’s Hospital as a result a self-inflicted, accidental gunshot wound received on the evening of May 6, 1902.

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