At the time of the Mahele, some of the land was the King’s own land which later became known as Ceded Lands. Other lands in the possession of ali’i were returned to the King in exchange for Commutation of property the ali`i kept. Some of these returned lands became Government lands and were sold by the government to generate income for the Kingdom, since the King gave up his traditional right to collect taxes and goods following the Mahele. (For more detail refer to Curtis J. Lyons, A History of Hawaiian Government Survey with notes on Land Matters in Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaiian Gazette Co., 1903; p. 4-5).
The earliest LG records (1846) are in both English and Hawaiian. If the Government land was sold to a foreigner the text is in English. If the purchaser were Hawaiian the documents is in Hawaiian. By 1915 the documents became written entirely in English, regardless of the purchaser’s ethnicity.
Land Grants are issued in the following various forms: On cash Freehold Agreement, Cash purchase, On Cash purchase under Preference Right, On Compromise and Equitable Settlement, On Land Exchange, Issued on Right of Purchase Lease, On Sale at Public Auction for Cash, and Issued on Special Homestead Agreement.
Land Grants are sometimes confused with the Royal Patent Land Grants, especially after the word Royal was removed after the Overthrow. In some government records, such as those of the Boundary Commission Land Grant may refer either to Royal Patent series or Land Grant series. If confused, please check both the RP database and LG database for the information you are seeking.
Robert H. Stauffer, in his 2004 book, Kahana: How the Land Was Lost (Univeristy of Hawai`i Press, Honolulu, HI) says that about 90 percent of the government lands capable of cultivation were sold during the 1850s noting that the large parcels were sold to Haole (foreign residents). Many lands were also subdivided into strips and sold to Hawaiians and others dispossessed Mahele. These maka`ainana (native citizens) formed Hui with commonly- held-land owned by the group. (p. 109).
In portions of Wai`anae District on O`ahu, Kaupo on Maui, Moloa‘a on Kaua‘i, among other places, Hawaiians opted to buy their land instead of filing a claim with the Land Commission. Some families had been so decimated by introduced diseases that there were too few left to work their lands. Several families, banding together, formed a Hui to purchase combined lands through a Land Grant. Elsewhere, maka‘ainana were encouraged by advisors (among whom were some missionaries) to purchase rather than settling ownership of lands through the Land Commission system.