Ali'i Bernice Pauahi Paki Bishop (1831-1884)
Founder of Kamehameha Schools
Bernice Pauahi Paki Bishop bequeathed her entire estate for
the establishment of a school to educate Hawaiian children.
Today, her endowment supports the largest independent pre-kindergarten
through grade 12 school in the United States. Born December
19, 1831 in Honolulu, Hawai`i to High Chiefs Abner Paki and
Laura Konia, Pauahi Paki was the great-granddaughter of Kamehameha
I, the warrior chief who united all the islands of Hawai`i
under his rule in 1810.
Educated by American Protestant missionaries, Pauahi Paki
married a young American named Charles Reed Bishop from Glens
Falls, New York. He was a widely respected and successful
businessman who through banking, real estate, and other investments,
became one of the wealthiest men in the kingdom.
When Pauahi Bishop was born in 1831, the native population
numbered about 124,000. When she wrote her will in 1883,
only 44,000 Hawaiians remained. From childhood, Pauahi witnessed
the steady physical and spiritual demise of Native Hawaiians.
Captain James Cook’s arrival in Hawai`i in 1778 introduced
foreign influences that weakened the traditional order of
Hawaiian life and culture. Diseases to which Hawaiians
had no immunity caused tens of thousands of natives to die
Deeply troubled by the decline, Pauahi Bishop felt a lack
of education helped precipitate that decrease. As the
heir to most of the lands of high-ranking Kamehameha chiefs,
Pauahi “felt responsible and accountable” for
having so much. Her husband Charles Reed Bishop said,
“Her heart was heavy when she saw the rapid diminution
of the Hawaiian people going on decade after decade.”
She hoped, he said, “That there would come a turning
point, when, through enlightenment, the adoption of regular
habits and Christian ways of living, the natives would not
only hold their own in numbers, but would increase again like
the people of other races.”
In addition, “She wished to establish an institution
bearing the name Kamehameha, for which name she had high respect
and preference, and a hospital or hospitals and schools for
boys and girls were mentioned, and in consideration of the
Queen’s Hospital already established…it was decided
that schools would be preferred, not for boys and girls of
pure or part aboriginal blood exclusively, but that class
should have preference.” As a result, she left
her estate, about nine percent of the total acreage of the
Hawaiian kingdom, to found the Kamehameha Schools.
After Pauahi Bishop’s death on October 16, 1884, Charles
Bishop, as president of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate’s
Board of Trustees, ensured that his wife’s wish was
fulfilled. He generously provided his own funds for
the construction of facilities and added some of his own properties
to her estate. Until his death in 1915, he continued to guide
her trustees in directions that reinforced Pauahi Bishop’s
vision of a perpetual educational institution that would assist
Native Hawaiians to become “good and industrious men
original endowment has grown to become one of the most important
trusts for Hawaiian people. Today, her estate encompasses
nearly 365,800 acres of land in Hawai‘i which, combined
with other assets, are valued at more than $6 billion. The
revenue generated by these assets fund Kamehameha Schools’
educational programs and services for thousands of students
than a century, the lives of thousands of Hawaiians have been
touched by the generosity and legacy of Princess Bernice Pauahi
Bishop. The words of Mrs. Pierre Jones, on the occasion of
Founder’s Day, December 19, 1923, remind us of the gift
Pauahi bestowed, and the kuleana those who have benefited
result of her wise disposition of her property, you young
people all know too well. It is yours – you who live
it each day of your lives. Without it, where would many
of you be today? Think what a heritage Pauahi Bishop has
left you, and when dark days and trials come, as come they
will to us all, stop for a moment, look up, and realize
what your Ali‘i has done for you, and take on courage
and renewed strength for life’s battle.”
Cobey Black and Kathleen Mellen. Princess Pauahi
and Her Legacy. Honolulu, Hawai`i: Kamehameha Schools
David A. Heenan & Warren Bennis. Co-Leaders:
The Power of Great Leaders. New York, NY: John
Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1999.
George S. Kanahele. Pauahi, the Kamehameha Legacy.
Honolulu, Hawai`i: Kamehameha Schools Press, 1986.
Harold W. Kent. Charles Reed Bishop, Man of Hawaii.
Palo Alto, California: Pacific Books, 1965.
Richards, Mary Atherton (editor). Amos Starr Cooke
and Juliette Montague Cooke: Their Autobiographies Gleaned
from Their Journals and Letters. Honolulu, Hawai`i:
The Daughters of Hawai`i, 1987.
Julie S. Williams. Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop.
Honolulu, Hawai`i: Kamehameha Schools Press, 1992.
Authorized by Trustees of Bernice P. Bishop Estate, Bishop
Museum and Charles R. Bishop Estate. Wills and
Deeds of Trust, Third Edition, Honolulu, Hawai`i, 1957.