Public Program- Hawaiian Mission House Performance and Panel

Lectures and performances
Tuesday, October 8, 2019 - 7:00pm to Wednesday, October 9, 2019 - 6:45pm

“My Name is ʻŌpūkahaʻia:
A Performance and Discussion Panel Commemorating the First Missionaries to Hawaiʻi”

In collaboration with the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives (Honolulu, Hawaiʻi) and sponsored by Mass Humanities

This fall marks the bicentennial of the departure of the first company of missionaries from New England to the Sandwich Isles in 1819. The story of Henry ʻŌpūkahaʻia (Obookiah)—the first native Hawaiian Christian, who is often credited with being the inspiration for the zeal behind the Protestant mission to Hawaiʻi—is instrumental in understanding the history of nineteenth-century Hawaiʻi and its connection to New England. This story, historically used in New England by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) to recruit missionaries and provide funding for their mission to the Sandwich Islands, is at its core a Hawaiian story.

Today, ʻŌpūkahaʻia is the subject of an intense debate about his role in Hawaiʻi’s history. My Name is ʻŌpūkahaʻia, a one-person play written by actor Moses Goods, sets the story of ʻŌpūkahaʻia into a narrative of Hawaiian agency. Goods, one of Hawaiʻi’s finest actors, will interpret the personal journey that ʻŌpūkahaʻia experienced and the long-reaching influence his journey had on the history of Hawaiʻi. The performance will be followed by a discussion panel, during which recognized humanities scholars will discuss their work and the influence of ʻŌpūkahaʻia in New England and Hawaiʻi. The panel will explore new texts, current scholarship, and thoughtful responses to the bicentennial of the ABCFM pioneer company.

A small display of Hawaiian items from the AAS collections will also be on view in the Learning Lab.

Panel Participants:

Moderator: James David Moran, Vice President for Programs and Outreach, AAS

Discussant: Dr. Noelani Arista, author of The Kingdom and the Republic

Discussant: John Demos, author of The Heathen School, AAS member, and AAS-Mellon Distinguished Scholar in Residence (2011–12)

Discussant: Moses Goods, writer and performer of My Name is ʻŌpūkahaʻia


This program is part of a statewide series of performances and panel discussions called “Encountering History using Innovative and Disruptive Narratives,” which is funded by Mass Humanities.


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