45 books like Hawaiki Rising

By Sam Low,

Here are 45 books that Hawaiki Rising fans have personally recommended if you like Hawaiki Rising. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Polynesian Family System in Ka'u, Hawai'i

Dennis Kawaharada Author Of Storied Landscapes: Hawaiian Literature and Place

From my list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting.

Who am I?

I taught traditional Hawaiian literature to college students and established Kalamakū Press in 1990 to publish Hawaiian folktales, narratives, autobiography, and poetry. I also worked for a decade as a writer for the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), a scientific and cultural non-profit that builds and sails double-hulled voyaging canoes to explore how the Polynesians, without modern navigation instruments, found and settled Hawai‘i. Long before Europeans arrived in Hawai‘i, Polynesians discovered and lived sustainably for centuries on an isolated chain of eight islands. The practices and values of the traditional culture have a lot to teach communities struggling to find their way in an overdeveloped, overpopulated world today. 

Dennis' book list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting

Dennis Kawaharada Why did Dennis love this book?

Despite the scholarly title, this book is a highly readable account of traditional Hawaiian culture in Ka‘ū, the southernmost district of the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Mary Kawena Pukui (1895–1986) was a preeminent Hawaiian scholar, author, composer, hula expert, and educator. She was born and raised in Ka‘ū, a remote, rural area where the old culture endured outside of the Westernization of the islands. In 1935 she traveled home with anthropologist E.S. Handy to gather information from her elders. Their book provides details and insights about the district’s history and ecology, the legendary setting (gods and spirits), the extended household and kinship system, the life cycle of individuals, manners and customs, and the relationships between people and ancestral spirits and animals.

By E. S. Craighill Handy, Mary Kawena Pukui,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Polynesian Family System in Ka'u, Hawai'i as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This classic book on Hawaiian families and culture is an essential text for anyone interested in pre-American Hawaii.

The Polynesian Family System in Ka-'U, Hawai'i is a collaboration of the distinguished scholars Dr. Mary Puku and Dr. E.S. Craighill Handy. It provides us with this fascinating review of traditional Hawaiian life. Manners and customs relating to birth, death, marriage, sexual practices, religious beliefs, and family relationship are all clearly described. The main sources of information were elderly Hawaiian informants of then remote Kacu district of the island of Hawaii.

This Hawaiian history and culture book provides professional scholars and laymen…


Book cover of Hawaiian Antiquities

Dennis Kawaharada Author Of Storied Landscapes: Hawaiian Literature and Place

From my list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting.

Who am I?

I taught traditional Hawaiian literature to college students and established Kalamakū Press in 1990 to publish Hawaiian folktales, narratives, autobiography, and poetry. I also worked for a decade as a writer for the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), a scientific and cultural non-profit that builds and sails double-hulled voyaging canoes to explore how the Polynesians, without modern navigation instruments, found and settled Hawai‘i. Long before Europeans arrived in Hawai‘i, Polynesians discovered and lived sustainably for centuries on an isolated chain of eight islands. The practices and values of the traditional culture have a lot to teach communities struggling to find their way in an overdeveloped, overpopulated world today. 

Dennis' book list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting

Dennis Kawaharada Why did Dennis love this book?

Hawaiian Antiquities, published in 1903, was translated into English from the nineteenth-century writings of David Malo (1795–1853). Malo was a major scholar of Old Hawai‘i who spent his life among the courts of the kings and chiefs, where he learned traditional practices and oral traditions. His writings cover a wide range of topics, including cosmogony, origins and genealogy, social classes, geography (land, sea, and sky and clouds, winds, and rains), the calendar (seasons, months, and days), flora and fauna, fishing and farming, houses and canoes, food and clothing, sports and games, religious worship and observances, healing practices and necromancy, and traditions about the ancient kings of Hawai‘i.

By David Malo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hawaiian Antiquities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1951 2nd. ed.


Book cover of Ruling Chiefs of Hawaiʻi

Dennis Kawaharada Author Of Storied Landscapes: Hawaiian Literature and Place

From my list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting.

Who am I?

I taught traditional Hawaiian literature to college students and established Kalamakū Press in 1990 to publish Hawaiian folktales, narratives, autobiography, and poetry. I also worked for a decade as a writer for the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), a scientific and cultural non-profit that builds and sails double-hulled voyaging canoes to explore how the Polynesians, without modern navigation instruments, found and settled Hawai‘i. Long before Europeans arrived in Hawai‘i, Polynesians discovered and lived sustainably for centuries on an isolated chain of eight islands. The practices and values of the traditional culture have a lot to teach communities struggling to find their way in an overdeveloped, overpopulated world today. 

Dennis' book list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting

Dennis Kawaharada Why did Dennis love this book?

Samuel Manaiakalani Kamakau (1815–1876) was one of the most important and prolific Hawaiian scholars of the nineteenth century. His history of the ruling chiefs of Hawai‘i begins with the high chief ʻUmi, eight generations before Kamehameha I, who established the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1795, and continues to the death of Kamehameha III in 1854. Ruling Chiefs, published in 1961, was translated from Hawaiian newspaper articles that appeared in the 1860s and 1870s. The stories include Captain James Cook’s arrival in 1776, the coming of Western missionaries, and the changes that followed. All of the writings of Kamakau are highly recommended, including The People of Old, The Works of the People of Old, and The Tales and Traditions of the People of Old.

By Samuel M. Kamakau,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ruling Chiefs of Hawaiʻi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eighteenth-century Hawaiian historian Samuel Mānaiakalani Kamakau traces Hawaiʻi’s history from ʻUmi, high chief eight generations before Kamehameha I, to the death of Kamehameha III in 1854. This volume covers the arrival of Captain James Cook, the consolidation of the Hawaiian kingdom by Kamehameha I, the coming of the missionaries, and the changes affecting the kingdom through the reign of Kamehameha III.

This history was originally written by Kamakau in Hawaiian as a series of newspaper articles in the 1860s and 1870s. The English translation was completed by a team of esteemed Hawaiian scholars including Mary Kawena Pukui, Thomas G. Thrum,…


Book cover of Hawaiian Fishing Traditions

Dennis Kawaharada Author Of Storied Landscapes: Hawaiian Literature and Place

From my list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting.

Who am I?

I taught traditional Hawaiian literature to college students and established Kalamakū Press in 1990 to publish Hawaiian folktales, narratives, autobiography, and poetry. I also worked for a decade as a writer for the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), a scientific and cultural non-profit that builds and sails double-hulled voyaging canoes to explore how the Polynesians, without modern navigation instruments, found and settled Hawai‘i. Long before Europeans arrived in Hawai‘i, Polynesians discovered and lived sustainably for centuries on an isolated chain of eight islands. The practices and values of the traditional culture have a lot to teach communities struggling to find their way in an overdeveloped, overpopulated world today. 

Dennis' book list on understanding Hawaiian culture before visiting

Dennis Kawaharada Why did Dennis love this book?

Hawaiian Fishing Traditions celebrates famous Hawaiian fishermen. Fish was the main source of protein. The first story, by Moke Manu, tells of Kū‘ula-kai, who became deified as a god of fishermen because of his power to control fish. He built the first fishpond, in Hāna, Maui, to supply the chief and people with food. His son ‘Ai‘ai, featured in the second story, continued his father’s good work by locating offshore fishing grounds and teaching the people how to catch fish, practice conservation, and distribute the catch with generosity. Also included are the stories of other legendary fishermen and of battles with man-eating sharks. Two articles in the appendix describe the vast array of traditional fishing methods; a third article gives an anthropological account of the worship of shark gods.

By Moke Manu, Dennis Kawaharada (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hawaiian Fishing Traditions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A celebration of the great fisherman of ancient Hawaii, known for attracting and propagating fish, inventing fishing techniques, and bringing in extraordinary catches.


Book cover of Recollections: Memoirs of John Dominis Holt, 1919-1935

Dennis Kawaharada Author Of Local Geography: Essays on Multicultural Hawai'i

From my list on understanding contemporary multicultural Hawai‘i.

Who am I?

I lived most of my life in Hawai‘i’s multiethnic community—an amazing place, where, for the most part, people of diverse ancestries got along. The foundation of tolerance was the culture of Native Hawaiians, who lived isolated from outsiders for centuries before the nineteenth century and thus had few prejudicial ideas about others. The natives generally welcomed them and adopted their beliefs. While confrontations and violence occurred, they were limited, not long-term or widespread. Of course, outsiders brought their racial and cultural prejudices, but, today, with a high rate of intermarriages among all the ethnic groups, Hawai'i is one of the most integrated societies in the world.

Dennis' book list on understanding contemporary multicultural Hawai‘i

Dennis Kawaharada Why did Dennis love this book?

John Dominis Holt grew up in a wealthy chiefly family, with Hawaiian, Tahitian, and white ancestors. His memoirs give a detailed, colorful account of the wealthy Honolulu neighborhood around Fort and Beretania Streets, where he grew up in the 1920s and 30s and where “Hawaiian-ness was strongly mixed with British, American, and Asian influences.” Unforgettable are Holt’s accounts of learning about the worship of sharks from an old Hawaiian fisherman and living in the lively working-class district of Kalihi, where his religious mother moved the family to escape the decadence of Fort and Beretania Streets. Holt describes the experience as “a protracted hula ‘auwana” (modern hula), where a multiracial group of several thousand people “lived in comparative harmony,” speaking Hawaiian, Asian languages, and pidgin English, the lingua franca of plantation communities.

By John Dominis Holt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Recollections as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"As a writer, his 1964 essay, “On Being Hawaiian,” spurred the Hawaiian renaissance in language, culture and the arts. As publisher of Topgallant Publishing Company, Ltd., Holt was a generous supporter of Hawaiian writers and of the Hawaiian culture. He was a trustee of the Bishop Museum.. Some called him a raconteur and bon vivant, others called him an elegant and artful communicator. Whatever the description, he was an erudite gentleman of the fading, privileged hapa-haole world of the early 20th century. In his autobiography, Recollections, Memoirs of John Dominis Holt, 1919-1935, Holt conveyed his impressions and thinking as a…


Book cover of 'Ewa Which Way

Lehua Parker Author Of One Boy, No Water

From my list on authentically Hawaiian books for tweens and teens.

Who am I?

Growing up in a kanaka maoli—Native Hawaiian—family in Hawai’i, I hungered for stories centered around island kids and their authentic lived experiences. I scoured classrooms, libraries, and bookstores looking for stories that reflected my reality, but all I ever found were dusty collections of ancient legends, not books that appealed to my sense of wonder or adventure. It’s the reason I wrote the Niuhi Shark Saga trilogy and why I’m so excited to share this collection with you. These books are everything I always wanted to read as a child growing up in Hawai‘i—and more!

Lehua's book list on authentically Hawaiian books for tweens and teens

Lehua Parker Why did Lehua love this book?

This coming-of-age story is powerful, immediate, and like a bloody scraped knee, painfully evocative of the transition between childhood and adulthood. I loved this book for its ability to show all the complicated rules, expectations, and entanglements of being a kid trying to make sense out of adult behavior. Set in ‘Ewa Beach, Hawai‘i, in 1982, Landon and Luke face prejudices of class and race, their parents’ alcohol abuse and valium popping coping mechanisms, and sheer dysfunction. Landon shares his reality with heartbreaking twelve-year-old clarity.   

By Tyler Miranda,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 'Ewa Which Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fiction. EWA WHICH WAY is a coming-of-age novel set in the early 1980s, around the time of Hurricane ‘Iwa. The DeSilva family, in economic straits, has suffered the setback of having to move from town to Ewa Beach, and the dissonance between parents impacts the lives of their young sons, Landon and Luke. In addition to humorous moments of growing up local, Portuguese, and Catholic, there are serious underlying themes regarding religion, ethnic tensions, assimilation issues, domestic violence, and the reality that children sometimes need to find their own way in the world at a very young age. With problems…


Book cover of Bound in Flame

Linda Ulleseit Author Of The Aloha Spirit

From my list on historical fiction about Hawaii.

Who am I?

I live in California and write novels based on my grandmother’s stories of our female ancestors. I love tales of everyday women who lived normal lives (according to them) but were quite remarkable to my 21st-century eyes. I wrote The Aloha Spirit about my husband’s grandmother, who was an amazing woman. His family is from Hawaii, and we visit there frequently. Anyone who spends time in the islands experiences the warm welcome of the people, which we know as the aloha spirit. I know Grandma had a difficult life, and I wrote the novel to explore how she might have overcome those difficulties to find her aloha spirit.

Linda's book list on historical fiction about Hawaii

Linda Ulleseit Why did Linda love this book?

I truly enjoy historical fiction that presents a culture or era from a different point of view. This one is set in early twentieth-century Hawaii. It features a girl, Letty, returning from a boarding school on the mainland. Letty’s devoted to animals, and she is one of the first female veterinarians in history. She jumps into the ocean to save a horse. Her healing powers are strengthened by her connection to the ancient Hawaiian land. The undercurrent of power gives this novel a fantasy feel, but it doesn’t lose its historical aspect. Then Letty learns the price of her healing power—her kisses can kill. Even worse, she’s attracted to the man who owns the horse she saved. 

By Katherine Kayne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bound in Flame as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lose yourself in the magic of old Hawaii with award-winning author Katherine Kayne . . .

Letty Lang is a suffragist of the most fearless kind, with a bullwhip, big plans, and ancient power she doesn’t understand. Will a fast horse and a stubborn man derail her dreams?

Banished to boarding school to tame her wild temper, Leticia Lili‘uokalani Lang sails home to Hawaii, bringing her devotion to animals with her. She’ll be among the first female veterinarians in history—most remarkable in 1909 when women still cannot vote.

With one mad leap into the ocean to save a horse, Letty…


Book cover of Diamond Head

Linda Ulleseit Author Of The Aloha Spirit

From my list on historical fiction about Hawaii.

Who am I?

I live in California and write novels based on my grandmother’s stories of our female ancestors. I love tales of everyday women who lived normal lives (according to them) but were quite remarkable to my 21st-century eyes. I wrote The Aloha Spirit about my husband’s grandmother, who was an amazing woman. His family is from Hawaii, and we visit there frequently. Anyone who spends time in the islands experiences the warm welcome of the people, which we know as the aloha spirit. I know Grandma had a difficult life, and I wrote the novel to explore how she might have overcome those difficulties to find her aloha spirit.

Linda's book list on historical fiction about Hawaii

Linda Ulleseit Why did Linda love this book?

Frank Leong is a wealthy shipping industrialist who moves his family from China to Oahu at the turn of the nineteenth century. Frank is murdered, which completely destroys his family. Whispers of an ancient parable haunt the Leongs, of a red string that connects someone to their perfect match but can also punish for mistakes in love. Frank’s pregnant teenage granddaughter, Theresa, is the next target to suffer from her family’s curse. The story is told from multiple points of view in this tragic multigenerational story of secrets and betrayal. My own interest in family history made this novel resonate deeply within me as several generations of women fail in their relationships.

By Cecily Wong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Diamond Head as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Diamond Head is an intricate meditation on what is in our control and what is fate—and on whether children must bear the costs of their parents’ mistakes.” —Celeste Ng, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere

At the turn of the nineteenth century, Frank Leong, a fabulously wealthy shipping industrialist, moves his family from China to the island of Oahu. But something ancient follows the Leongs to Hawaii, haunting them. The parable of the red string of fate, the cord that binds one intended beloved to her perfect match, also punishes…


Book cover of Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen

Jasmin Iolani Hakes Author Of Hula

From my list on nonfiction to read before your Hawaii vacation.

Who am I?

My passion to write about Hawaiʻi began with a desire to see the world that I knew and loved reflected in literary form, complete with all its complexities and nuance. Growing up alongside Hawaiʻi’s sovereignty movement, there was so much I didn’t understand. School textbooks didn’t mention Hawaiʻi. The little I learned about our culture and history was from dancing hula. So when I started reading some of the books on this list, it put all of my memories into context. Everything about my home became clearer to see (and therefore write about). The true beauty of Hawaiʻi exists behind its postcard image, and this is how you get there!

Jasmin's book list on nonfiction to read before your Hawaii vacation

Jasmin Iolani Hakes Why did Jasmin love this book?

When I was growing up, all I learned about my home was the year Hawaiʻi became a state.

My mother forbid me from speaking local pidgin at home because of the prevailing stereotype that locals were uneducated, unrefined, and not able to understand the complexities of the wider world.

Television and film portrayed people from Hawaiʻi as pagans needing saving from themselves, who drank and sinned themselves to death unless saved by white foreigners. In more ways than one, the loss of the Hawaiian Kingdom was placed on the shoulders of leaders too weak and simple-minded to maintain and protect it.

Hawai’i’s Story challenges that. Written by Queen Liliʻiuokalani after she was imprisoned and overthrown by a group backed by U.S. Marines and intended to aid in the fight against annexation, this memoir reveals a Hawaiian Kingdom that is the most literate nation in the world at the time and…

By Liliuokalani,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen (1898) is an autobiography by Lili'uokalani. Published in 1898, the book was written in the aftermath of Lili'uokalani's attempt to appeal on behalf of her people to President Grover Cleveland, a personal friend. Although it inspired Cleveland to demand her reinstatement, the United States Congress published the Morgan Report in 1894, which denied U.S. involvement in the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen appeared four years later as a final effort by Lili'uokalani to advocate on behalf of Hawaiian sovereignty, but it unfortunately came too late. That same year, President…


Book cover of The Best of Bamboo Ridge

Dennis Kawaharada Author Of Local Geography: Essays on Multicultural Hawai'i

From my list on understanding contemporary multicultural Hawai‘i.

Who am I?

I lived most of my life in Hawai‘i’s multiethnic community—an amazing place, where, for the most part, people of diverse ancestries got along. The foundation of tolerance was the culture of Native Hawaiians, who lived isolated from outsiders for centuries before the nineteenth century and thus had few prejudicial ideas about others. The natives generally welcomed them and adopted their beliefs. While confrontations and violence occurred, they were limited, not long-term or widespread. Of course, outsiders brought their racial and cultural prejudices, but, today, with a high rate of intermarriages among all the ethnic groups, Hawai'i is one of the most integrated societies in the world.

Dennis' book list on understanding contemporary multicultural Hawai‘i

Dennis Kawaharada Why did Dennis love this book?

Bamboo Ridge Press was established in 1978 to publish the multiethnic literature of Hawai’i. In this selection the best of its first eight years, the writers, of various ancestries, celebrate their families, cultures, and traditions, but also the cultures and traditions of others—a Hawaiian poet writes about a Tang fisherman; a poet of Chinese-Japanese ancestry and a writer of Puerto Rican ancestry reflect on Hawaiian activism; a white poet features bodhisattvas and Kuan Yin while another dedicates her song to a Hawaiian musician. Native Hawaiian writers are underrepresented in this collection published during a renaissance of Hawaiian culture, but a year earlier, in 1985, Bamboo Ridge also published Mālama: Hawaiian Land and Sea, an anthology of Native Hawaiian writers.

By Eric Chock (editor), Darrell H. Y. Lum (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Best of Bamboo Ridge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Poetry. Fiction. This anthology of fiction and poetry is a good introductory survey of Hawai'i literature. Selected from issues of the first eight years of BAMBOO RIDGE, The Hawaii Writers' Quarterly, it features the work of more than 50 writers and includes an introduction by the editors as well as an essay on Asian american literature in Hawai'i by Stephen Sumida.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Hawaii, presidential biography, and the Pearl Harbor attack?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Hawaii, presidential biography, and the Pearl Harbor attack.

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