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Friday, March 26 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole. In the spirit of celebration, KS Cultural Consultant Manu Boyd KSK’80 reflects on Kūhiō’s life and moʻokūʻauhau (genealogy) as part of the foundation which made his contributions to the lāhui so extraordinary. It was because of his civic service to the lāhui that he was known as “Ke Aliʻi Makaʻāinana,” the citizen prince. Image courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.

Prince Kūhiō: Ke Ali'i Maka'āinana — The Citizen Prince

March 22, 2021

Contributed by Ho‘okahua Cultural Vibrancy Group

This story is part of Kūkahekahe – Cultural Conversations – featuring personal experiences and insights from faculty, staff and friends about compelling cultural happenings within the Kamehameha Schools organization, throughout the Hawaiian Islands, and across the larger Pacific and global communities. This mo‘olelo is shared by KS Cultural Consultant Manu Boyd KSK’80.

A few years ago when the KS Communications Group added “Kaulana Mahina,” Hawaiian moon phases, to our “Ka Ipu o Lono” website, it reminded me of a long-standing annual calendar produced by the Prince Kūhiō Hawaiian Civic Club that was prominently placed on our ‘Āina Haina family room wall, held up with a thumb tack.

Fifty years ago, I was eight, and that calendar and all of the ʻike Hawaiʻi it easily conveyed to households across the islands remains prominent in my memory. Like Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole himself, his namesake civic club seeks to preserve and perpetuate Hawaiian values, culture, and education; their annual moon calendar represents a continuing decades-long initiative toward their mission of stimulating civic efforts and education among the lāhui.

This March 26 marks an important lā hoʻomanaʻo aliʻi, a day of commemoration honoring our aliʻi – the 150th anniversary of the birth of Kūhiō. In the spirit of celebration of this important day, I share some of my own reflections on Kūhiō’s life and moʻokūʻauhau (genealogy) as part of the foundation which made his contributions to the lāhui so extraordinary.

Kūhiō’s mother was the striking high chiefess Kekaulike Kinoiki II. Named for her royal mother, she was a descendant of the highest born Kauaʻi nobility, and her eventual marriage to David Kahalepouli Piʻikoi produced three royal boys who would mature into fine examples of Hawaiian men: David Kawānanakoa, Edward Abnel Keliʻiahonui, and Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole.

The blending of Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Maui, and Hawaiʻi royal lineages set these young boys apart from the rest of their contemporaries. Even our own Paiʻea Kamehameha, the namesake of Kamehameha Schools, is a high-born chief of mostly strong Hawaiʻi and Maui lineages, with some Oʻahu connections. But the Kauaʻi bloodline of these young princes descend from that island’s 15th century paramount ruler, Manokalanipō.

We examine Kūhiō’s Kauaʻi lineage through ancestress. When Kapena Kuke (Captain Cook) happened on Kauaʻi in 1778, the island’s ruler was a chiefess named Kamakahelei. She was a sacred descendant of ancient voyaging chiefs from Tahiti including Mōʻīkeha, Laʻamaikahiki and Kukonaalaʻa. Early in her life, it was determined that a high-born aliʻi from Maui would be her husband: Kaʻeokūlani, son of King Kekaulike. Keahilapalapa, the flashing fire, is a name and characteristic often associated with aliʻi nui; this honorable sobriquet was applied to the son of Kamakahelei and Kaʻeokūlani, who was named Kaumualiʻi.

Here’s where our tracing of our moʻokūʻauhau gets a bit obscured. Kaneoneo, a high chief with Kauaʻi and Niʻihau roots, is also from Oʻahu’s chiefly clan headed by Kualiʻi, whose own son was the great aliʻi Peleiōhōlani. Kapuaamohu, he kaikamahine, a daughter, is identified as a descendant of this great line. Through these great familial lines, we see that Kūhiō indeed has strong connections to Kauaʻi.

Kūhiō’s great grandmother Kinoiki I is a keiki of Kaumualiʻi and Kapuaamohu, and she was in turn was the mother of Kinoiki Kekaulike II, who married the Hawaiʻi Island chief Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole.

Our Prince Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole is their youngest son. It is said that Kūhiō opened his eyes at birth in a hale with traditional house posts and pili thatching in the south Kauaʻi district of Kōloa, on a beautiful parcel by the sea named for a red glow, Kukuiʻula.

Father David Piʻikoi passed away when Kūhiō was 9, and the Piʻikoi boys were taken to Honolulu along with their mother Kekaulike II. They were lawe hānai ʻia, or adopted, by their mother’s sister Queen Kapiʻolani, and their father’s cousin, King Kalākaua. The old royal palace at Pohukaina, Honolulu – the predecessor of the “new” palace we all know today, was their part-time home. Pualeilani was their beachside mansion in Waikīkī and a favorite residence where the boys matured as fun-loving, intelligent, kolohe (rascal) teenagers who excelled in heʻenalu (surfing), ʻaukai (swimming), hoe waʻa (canoe paddling) and other athletics.

Well-educated at Oʻahu College and St. Alban’s College, the predecessors of Punahou and ʻIolani schools, respectively, they continued their pursuit of learning in America at San Mateo, California. The boys were excellent students at Saint Matthew’s Hall Military School, so they frequently had leisure time.

In one memorable outing during the summer of 1885, they secured redwood planks and visited a nearby mill to have papa heʻenalu (surfboards) fashioned. When these three handsome, kolohe Hawaiian princes took to the freezing waters at the Santa Cruz shore during vacation, they drew a massive crowd who had never seen “wave sliding” – heʻenalu – before. Today, a memorial plaque stands at the beach to commemorate the young surfing princes. The brothers would also introduce surfing to Europe during a similar vacation jaunt to Bridlington, Yorkshire, in England.

Life for the young royals was impacted by treacherous events in Hawaiʻi. When the kingdom government led by their aunt, Queen Liliʻuokalani, was overthrown in 1893, Kūhiō’s elder brother, Edward Abnel Keliʻiahonui, had already passed. Two years later in 1895 at the age of 24, Prince Kūhiō was arrested and imprisoned at Oʻahu Jail in Iwilei for crimes of treason against the self-proclaimed republic, for his participation in the failed “Wilcox” Rebellion. Queen Liliʻuokalani was imprisoned at the same time – her jail cell was at ʻIolani Palace, in the former bedroom of the three princes.

As an aliʻi, Prince Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole had been trained for a life of service to the crown and the lāhui, so it is no surprise that following the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, his long political career was driven by his well-documented aloha for Hawaiʻi. It was because of his civic service to the lāhui that he was known as “Ke Aliʻi Makaʻāinana,” the citizen prince.

While he was not the first Hawaiian Territorial representative in Congress (he was preceded by Robert Kalanihiapo Wilcox and John Wise), Kalanianaʻole served 10 consecutive two-year terms in Washington, D.C. After establishing the Hawaiian Civic Club in 1918, his years-long efforts to pass the Hawaiian Rehabilitation Act was finally realized a century ago with the 1920 Hawaiian Homes Commission legislation.  

Look to your own moon calendar. The approaching moon phase on March 26, Kūhiō’s birthday, is the Hua moon. Hua, meaning “to fruit” or “to produce” is an appropriate one for the 150th year celebration of a man whose lifelong efforts continue to yield so much for our lāhui.

E hoʻolaule‘a pū kākou i ke ola o ia aliʻi kaulana o Hawaiʻi nei. Let’s celebrate the amazing life of Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole!

David Piʻikoi and Kekaulike Kinoiki II, Prince Kūhiō’s parents. Image courtsey of Royal Hawaiian Center collection.

The royal princess (l-r): Kalanianaʻole Kūhiō, Kawānanakoa, and Keliʻiahonui in San Mateo, CA in 1886. Image courtesy of A. Quigg’s “Kalakaua’s Hawaiian Studies Abroad Program” Hawaii Journal of History, vol. 22.

At the age of 24, Prince Kūhiō was arrested and imprisoned at Oʻahu Jail in Iwilei for crimes of treason against the self-proclaimed republic, for his participation in the failed Wilcox Rebellion.

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