Pauahi Pākī was born on December 19, 1831 in Honolulu, Hawai‘i to high chiefs Abner Pākī and Laura Kōnia Pākī. She was the great-granddaughter of Kamehameha I, the warrior chief who united the Hawaiian islands under his rule in 1810.
As the last royal descendant of the Kamehameha line, Pauahi inherited thousands of acres of land, much of it from the estate of her cousin Princess Ruth Ke‘elikōlani. Pauahi’s inheritance, about nine percent of the island chain’s total acreage, made her the largest landholder in the kingdom.
Pauahi witnessed the rapid decline of the Hawaiian population, along with the loss of Hawaiian language, culture and traditions. She believed education could offer her people hope and a future.
At the time of Pauahi’s death on October 16, 1884, her estate comprised some 375,500 acres of land assessed at about $474,000. Her will establishes the Kamehameha Schools and her lands and property endow the schools.