Gast and Conrad's book about Francisco de Paula Marin's life in Hawaii contains entries from his journal. Several mention incidents and fears of arson, never ascribing responsibility:

30th Jany [1810]. Fear that all the houses will be burned on account of the marriage of "Querua" [Kaluaikonahale, i.e., Kuakini] with the daughter of the King.

2 January [1818]. This night 3 houses of the Russians were burnt.

24 March [1819]. This night the house of Mr. Prince was burnt.

7th November [1819]. This day all the women ate pork and they burnt all the churches [i.e., heiaus] on the island.

Without assuming that these cases share the same explanations, what factors or concerns in native Hawaiian culture could help to explain all these references to arson?

  • 1
    All what arson? Nothing was done in 1810, and the others happened over an almost two year period. How is this unusual?
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 0:26
  • 1
    @CGCampbell I do find this unusual. If it seems usual to you, you also fear your house being burned down when a politician's daughter gets married? Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 2:18
  • There were riots in Vancouver when the local team won. A bit of arson isn't unusual.
    – SPavel
    Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 1:41
  • @SPavel: Boston won game seven of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver; not Vancouver. Rangers won game seven of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. What riot in Vancouver are you thinking of? Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 16:16
  • Potentially relevant: books.google.com/…
    – Brian Z
    Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 23:15

1 Answer 1


Partial answer: the last of the four events from Gast and Conrad refers to the abolishment of the Kapu system. Burning heiaus (as opposed to foreigners' houses) has to have religious implications. Similarly, in 1779, after an ugly encounter during Cook's second visit, Hawaiians "burned the structures on the temple, perhaps to cleanse this sacred area."

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