Wai’oli Hui’ia Church is located in the town of Hanalei, which is on the rugged and dramatic north shore of Kauai between Princetown, and the Na Pali Coast State Park. It is set on a lovely half-moon bay, the largest bay on the north shore, with beautiful sandy beaches.
The Wai’oli Hui’ia Church was established by American Christian missionaries in 1834. Because they expected the arrival of the missionaries, the Hawaiians themselves built the first structure on the site—a pole and thatched meeting house. A more permanent Hanalei church building was completed in 1837, two years after the arrival of the first missionaries, William and Mary Alexander, who sailed from Waimea Bay. The chimney built by William Alexander stands to this day, and has withstood wind, storms, and earthquakes.
A plaster and timber-frame building was completed in 1841, with the lime for the plaster made from coral found on the beaches during low tides. The Mission Bell arrived and was installed in 1843. Today, the Hanalei Church Mission Hall is the oldest church building on Kauai. The oldest in all of the Hawaiian Islands, Mokuaikaua Church on the Big Island, was founded in 1820. The Hanalei Church Kauai and the other old Christian churches play an important role in the history of the islands and their white settlement.
The Hanalei Church Kauai itself is an elegant little green building that was finally completed in 1912 by the Wilcox missionary family. It reflects the architectural style of American Gothic common to New England, the original home of most of the early missionaries who first came to Hawaii. It is still an active place of worship associated with the Church of Christ and is also a venue for many Kauai weddings.