Oral History Interview: Thelma Genevieve Parish

Thelma Genevieve Parish, a.k.a. Sister Parish, was born in 1918. She descended from prominent families in the history of Hawai‘i, and shared generational ties to the ‘ili of Pu‘uloa in Honouliuli Ahupua‘a. She was educated as an anthropologist, and became a Catholic nun serving for 50 years as a teacher and school administrator with the Order of Sacred Hearts. Sister Parish was a lifelong student of history and until her passing in 2004, she was working on a manuscript of Hawaiian history. Unfortunately her work has been left incomplete.

Oral History Interviews

Recording oral history interviews is an important part of the historical review process. The experiences conveyed through interviews are personal; also, the narratives are rich and more animated than those that may be typically found in reports that are purely academic or archival in nature—the personal narratives tend to present modern audiences with descriptions of cultural values, practices, and transitions in the landscape. Thus, through the process of conducting oral history interviews, things are learned that are often overlooked in other forms of documentation.

Names of Residents in Honouliuli Ahupua‘a, ca. 1800–1855

The records of the Māhele are the earliest and most detailed records of Honouliuli, in their documentation of native residents—those people who were the survivors of their ancestors, and those whose iwi (remains) were buried upon the plains (kulāıwi). Following a detailed review of all the Māhele records from Honouliuli Ahupua‘a, at least 208 resident names were found. These names, often modernized surnames, are the people who lived upon, cared for, and were sustained by the ‘āina and kai lawai‘a of Honouliuli.

Hawaiian History—Some Things Which are of Importance Pertaining to the Dead

Care for the dead (kupapa‘u), respect of the graves (ilina), and traditions associated with the spirit after death are subjects of great significance to Hawaiians past and present. In his history of the Hawaiian people, Samuel M. Kamakau shared a collection of traditions and practices pertaining to the dead, and identified some of the places of importance in these practices. These narratives are of particular importance to lands and specific wahi pana of the Honouliuli-Moanalua region.

Storied Places of Honouliuli Cited in Native Traditions and Historical Records

From the earliest of human times, the Hawaiian landscape has been alive with spiritual beliefs, traditions, customs, and practices. Unfortunately, with the passing of time, irretrievable traditional knowledge has been lost. This is in part a result of the rapid decline of the native population, and enforcement of restrictions placed upon Hawaiians in education and all facets of life which culminated in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government in 1893.