David Malo was a Hawaiian scholar and royal adviser, who is perhaps best remembered today for his book, Hawaiian Antiquities, which illuminates Hawaiian cultural traditions. Born in Keauhou, Hawai‘i, in 1793, he graduated with the first class of students from Lahainaluna Seminary on Maui.
Raised under the kapu system, Malo was skillful at using Hawaiian metaphors to address contemporary issues. In 1837, he urged kuhina nui Kīna‘u to gather the chiefs together to seek broader knowledge of their changing world.
Malo, an ordained Christian minister, was appointed Luna or School Agent, overseeing five school inspectors provided for in the public school laws drawn up in 1840, and was elected in 1841 from Maui to serve in the first House of Representatives. He died on October 25, 1853, on Maui.
“If a big wave comes in, large fishes will come from the dark ocean from a place unseen, and when they see the small fishes of the shallows, they will devour them; such is also the case with large animals; they will prey on the smaller ones. Likewise, the ships of the white man have come, and knowledgeable people have arrived from powerful countries which you have never seen before. They know our people are few in number and living in a small country; they will eat us up. Such has always been the case with large countries; the small ones have been taken over throughout the world.”1 — David Malo, writing to Ka‘ahumanu II (Kīna‘u) and Mataio Kekūanā‘o‘a, Aug. 18, 1837
1David Malo to Ka’ahumanu II (Kīna‘u) and Mataio [Kekūanā‘o‘a], Aug. 18, 1837, Archives of Hawai‘i, Foreign Office & Executive, as quoted in Arista, The Kingdom and the Republic, pp. 223-224.