Goodbye to 2012. Happy New Year, 2013.
Just as the sun was setting, I shot this short video at the north-west tip of the island of Oahu in Hawaii. This is the farthest west one can go by road, in Kaena Point State Park. If you’re not distracted by the pounding surf, check out my new Hawaiian shirt. It’s locally made.
While visiting Oahu, here in Hawaii, I am reading Stephen R. Bown’s Madness, Betrayal and the Lash: The Epic Voyage of Captain George Vancouver. This coastline that I’m seeing in the closing days of 2012 is what the explorer Vancouver saw in the early months of 1793.
Today, Hawaii is a state of the United States of America. This might have been otherwise, if a meeting between Captain Vancouver and King Kamehameha of Hawaii had gone differently. Kamehameha agreed to place the “Sandwich Islands” (as they were known to the British) under the political dominion of Great Britain, but under conditions which George Vancouver was not able to fulfil. If Vancouver had been as good a diplomat as he was a hydrographic surveyor, and if King Kamehameha had not been preoccupied with his conflicts with the kings of Maui and Oahu, Hawaii might today enjoy a status like Tonga. The Kingdom of Tonga became a British dominion, was never colonized, and is today an independent state. With Hawaii, the United States became the colonial power in so dominant a fashion that today native Hawaiians comprise a mere one-fifth of the population. American flags overwhelm Hawaiian flags everywhere I see, and Polynesian culture is not really a living thing, but a curiosity to be displayed to the many, many tourists — like me.
This is the flag of Hawaii. It was designed at the request of King Kamehameha in 1816. The Union Flag in the canton of the Hawaiian flag is a sign of King Kamehameha’s friendship with “his good, faithful Brother King George.”