In 1778, Captain James Cook arrived at Waimea Bay, the first European known to have reached the Hawaiʻian islands. He named the archipelago after his patron the 6th Earl of Sandwich, George Montagu.
During the reign of King Kamehameha, the islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau were the last Hawaiʻian Islands to join his ʻi. Their ruler, ʻi, resisted Kamehameha for years. King Kamehameha twice prepared a huge armada of ships and canoes to take the islands by force, and twice failed; once due to a storm, and once due to an epidemic. In the face of the threat of a further invasion, however, Kaumualiʻi decided to join the kingdom without bloodshed, and became Kamehameha's vassal in 1810. He ceded the island to the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi upon his death in 1824.
In 1815, a ship from the Russian-American Company was wrecked on the island. In 1816, an agreement was signed by Kaumualiʻi to allow the Russians to build Fort Elizabeth. It was an attempt by Kaumuali’i to gain support from the Russians against Kamehameha I. Construction was begun in 1817, but in July of that year under mounting resistance of Native Hawaiians and American traders the Russians were expelled. The settlement on Kauai has been considered an abrupt instance of a Pacific outpost of the Russian Empire per se.
Valdemar Emil Knudsen was a Norwegian plantation pioneer who arrived on Kauai in 1857. Knudsen, or “Kanuka,” originally arrived in Koloa where he managed Grove Farm, but later sought a warmer land and purchased the leases to
Mana and Kekaha, where he became a successful sugarcane plantation owner. Knudsen settled in Waiawa, between Mana and Kekaha, immediately across the channel from Niʻihau Island. His son, Eric Alfred Knudsen, was born in Waiawa.
Knudsen was appointed land administrator by disambiguation needed] for an area covering 400 km2, and was given the title konohiki as well as a position as a nobility under the king. Knudsen, who spoke fluent Hawaiian, later became an elected representative and an influential politician on the island.
Knudsen lends his name to the
Knudsen Gap, a narrow pass between Hã’upu Ridge and the Kahili Ridge. Its primary function was as a sugar farm planted by the Knudsen family.
Old Sugar Mill of Koloa
In 1835, Old Koloa Town opened a sugar mill. From 1906 to 1934 the office of County Clerk was held by John Mahiʻai Kāneakua, who had been active in attempts to restore Queen Liliuokalani to the throne after the United States takeover of Hawaiʻi in 1893.
Etymology and language
Hawaiian narrative locates the name's origin in the legend of ʻiloa, the Polynesian navigator credited with discovery of the Hawaiʻian Islands. The story relates how he named the island of Kauaʻi after a favorite son; a possible translation of Kauaʻi is "place around the neck", describing how a father would carry a favorite child. Another possible translation is "food season".
Kauaʻi was known for its distinct dialect of the Hawaiian language; this survives on ʻihau. While the standard language today adopts the dialect of ʻi island, which has the sound [k], the Kauaʻi dialect was known for pronouncing this as [t]. In effect, Kauaʻi dialect retained the old pan-Polynesian /t/, while "standard" Hawaiʻi dialect has changed it to the [k]. Therefore, the native name for Kauaʻi was said as Tauaʻi, and the major settlement of ʻa would have been pronounced as Tapaʻa.