The arrival of horses at Kalalau Valley in 1864

In 1864, during the reign of Kamehameha V, Kalalau Valley, Kauai had a large thriving population and its own school.

L. Nakulala, the school teacher in Kalalau Valley at that time, wrote a letter in that year to the Hawaiian language newspaper, “Ka Nupepa Kuokoa” (The Independent Newspaper), which reported the arrival of the first horses there.

The following is a rough translation of his letter:

“Perhaps,” he wrote, “some people who have lived here will read and find recollections of the land they once lived on will make a topic of conversation at some pleasant moment.

“To the Kuokoa, greetings:

“You can perhaps insert this bit of news from the cliffs of Kalalau if your kind hearted editor will agree.

“We have horses in Kalalau, all due to our own clever work. It is the greatest of all events this year.

“From the beginning of time to this waning year, we have never seen horses in Kalalau because it is not a good land for horses; it is too precipitous.

“The only time we saw horses was when we went to Haena or Waioli. Our children had never seen horses at all and were most terrified.

“Here at Kalalau, we have seen horses and how they arrive. Since the month of May, we have had 10 transported here by canoe. The natives are very clever in getting the horses, two at a time, in one canoe.

“The horses are being used to carry bundles of taro to the beach where the taro is packed in canoes to be taken to Hanalei and sold. This is what we do all the time.

“The pain of carrying the taro on our backs is eliminated. We walk these horses from the inland to the beach and back to the upland. The horses are unable to travel to Mana or Haena as we are hemmed in by sheer cliffs on either side of us.”

Kalalau Valley’s last permanent inhabitants, the Pa family of Haena, moved out of the valley around 1910.

Hank Soboleski has been a resident of Kauai since the 1960s. Hank’s love of the island and its history has inspired him, in conjunction with The Garden Island Newspaper, to share the island’s history weekly. The collection of these articles can be found here: and here Hank can be reached at

  1. harry oyama December 15, 2019 7:29 am Reply

    Would have been a dream living in Kalalau valley, but it is ruined by all those tourists and free loading transits from the mainland taking a dump in streams and leaving their rubbish. At least the native Hawaiians took good care of the land.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.