They Couldn't Take Ni`ihau No-how - Words & Music by R. Alex Anderson

On the tiny isle of Ni`ihau, no one knew a war was on;
'Til a Japanese flier decided to retire and landed with a machine gun
Then big Ben Kanahele laid aside his ukulele
He told the aviator he would throw him in the crater
If he didn't get the heck right out
But the Jap shot Ben in the shoulder, in the ribs and in the groin
Kanehele took a swallow and tightened up his malo
And then he he girded up his other loin

Then big Kanahele grabbed the Jap around the belly
And thew him down against a stone wall
And Mrs Kanahele took a rock and made a jelly of his head
'Til he was dead and that was all
So they couldn't take Ni`ihau no-how with the Ben Kaneheles around
The Jap was a sap to think it a snap
When he set his airplane down
So they couldn't take Ni`ihau no-how
When big Kanehele said "pau!"
He made a grand slam for his Uncle Sam and
They couldn't take Ni`ihau no-how

Source: Honolulu Magazine - Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, residents of Ni`ihau, on the way to church at Pu`uwai, watched 2 planes flying low over their island. The island had no radios or telephones and the people were unaware of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The only contact with the outside world was the arrival, every Monday of Aylmer Robinson from Kaua`i, with his supply sampan. One plane left a trail of black smoke as both turned north over the ocean. Unable to find their carrier, one plane crashed into sea and the other landed in a field near the home of Hawila Kaleohano. Hawila approached the plane and tried to rescue the occupant, but the pilot drew a revolver, causing the Niihauan to break the pilot's harness as he yanked the intruder from his seat. In the struggle, Hawila confiscated a packet the pilot was attempting to hide in his shirt.The plane was then surrounded by curious residents trying to communicate with the visitor in English. When he would not respond, Yoshio Harada, one of 2 Japanese living on Ni`ihau, was summoned and spoke with the pilot in Japanese, but was not able to learn the circumstances of the visit. The natives decided to detain the intruder until the arrival of Mr. Robinson on Monday, the next day. The prisoner was marched 15 miles to the Ki`i boat landing, but the supply sampan and Mr. Robinson did not arrive Monday, nor Tuesday, nor Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. They decided to send a message, the old-fashioned way, by lighting a bon fire on the highest hill, the traditional trouble signal to the Robinson family on the island of Kaua`i, 10 miles east. The prisoner convinced Harada to help him escape and return to his motherland, and the two outlaws, armed with a stolen pistol and shotgun, ransacked the homes in search of the papers Hawila had confiscated. They burned some homes and threatened to shoot everyone who tried to stop them. The villagers fled to the hills while Hawila Kaleohano and 5 others rowed for 16 hours in a whale boat, to Kaua`i for help. They reached Waimea at 3:00 pm Saturday, December 13. Early Saturday morning, Ben Kanahele and his wife sneaked into town to get food for the residents and were promptly captured. In Hawaiian, Kanahele told Harada to help him disarm the pilot, but Harada said he was afraid the pilot would kill him. Kanahele then demanded the outlaws lay down their weapons and when there was no response, Kanahele and his wife attacked Harada and the pilot. Ben grabbed the pilot 's arm trying to wrest the gun away. The pilot shot 51-year-old Ben 3 times; in the stomach, in the groin and in the thigh. Later, Ben would say, "that's when I got mad". The wounded Kanahele picked up the pilot by his leg and neck, and smashed him into a stone wall, crushing his skull. Harada turned the shotgun on himself and pulled the trigger. He died 2 hours later. The military rescue party arrived Sunday morning, December 14, but the battle of Ni`ihau was over. Kanahele was taken to the Kaua`i hospital, protesting all the way. The Hawaiian word for Japanese is Kepani. In this song, Jap is used as opposed to Japanese to designate the enemy. Copyright 1943 by R. Alex Anderson