This page tells the story of “Wailing Peacocks,” an article about a Hawaiian voyaging group that I completed in spring 2012. Now, I’m working on “Quito Grown,” which you can read more about here.
An explanation of the title, “Wailing Peacocks” …
As the legend goes, a voyaging hero named Tafa’i, son of Hema and the underworld goddess Hina-tahutahu, fished the Hawaiian islands out of the sea.
As historical record goes, once found, the islands became fertile ground for settlers and 1,600-years-ago, voyagers possessing advanced seafaring technology sailed from East Polynesia to this new land. Hawaiians developed a complex system of government and a self-sufficient society that supported as many as 250,000 people.
But, in what could be the story of any indigenous people in what is now called the United States of America, Westerners established contact and messed up everything.
Fast forward through 200 years — past British explorers, missionaries, introduction of Western businesses, an overthrow of a queen — to the annexation of Hawaii as a U.S. territory. The queen’s niece, Princess Victoria Ka’iulani, was heir to the crown. She left Hawaii as a young woman to study in Britain, where she lived for several years.
One day in 1893, a telegram arrived breaking the news that Hawaii had become a republic. The princess was devastated. She made it her life purpose to restore the monarchy, traveling around the world to meet with politicians, but to no avail. Hawaii was annexed and she returned home.
After mourning the deaths of several relatives and battling a bad fever, she died at the age of 24. According to collective memory, her treasured peacocks went crazy, wailing in the middle of the night, alerting all of Waikiki to her passing.
As the story goes, Princess Ka’iulani died of a broken heart.