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Prince Kūhiō

Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaole

Ke Ali'i Maka'āinana

The Hawaiian People’s Prince

Prince Kūhiō, heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, prince of the House of Kalākaua until the overthrow in 1893.

Born March 26, 1871 in Kukui‘ula, Kōloa, Kauaʻi to father David Kahalepouli Piʻikoi and mother Victoria Kinoiki Kekaulike. Like many aliʻi (Hawaiian nobility) his genealogy was complex, but he was an heir of Kaumualiʻi, the last ruling chief of Kauaʻi. He was named after his maternal grandfather Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, a High Chief of Hilo, and his paternal grandfather Jonah Piʻikoi, a High Chief of Kauaʻi. Kuhio was hānai adopted by King David Kalākaua’s wife, Queen Kapiʻolani, who was his maternal aunt.

Kuhio attended Royal School, Punahou School and Oahu College in Honolulu. Further studies led him to Episcopal Day School of St. Matthew in San Mateo, California. Kuhio and his brothers would go to Santa Cruz and demonstrated the Hawaiian sport of board surfing to the locals, becoming the first California surfers in 1885.

Kūhiō was then sent to the United Kingdom where he attended Royal Agricultural College in England. While there Kūhiō and one of his brothers became the first surfers in the British Isles and also taught their English tutor how to surf. He was also known for being an excellent marksman and top athlete in football and bicycling.

Kuhio was appointed to the royal Cabinet administering the Department of the Interior when Kalākaua came to power. After Kalākaua’s death in 1891, Liliʻuokalani became queen, and she continued to favour Kūhiō.

When Princess Kaʻiulani turned nineteen, Queen Liliʻuokalani asked her to consider marrying either Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole or brother Prince David Kawānanakoa. The Queen reminded Kaʻiulani, “It is the wish of the people that you should marry one of the Princes, that we may have more Ali’i.” Kaʻiulani replied that she would prefer to marry for love, “I feel it would be wrong if I married a man I did not love.”

In post-annexation of Hawaiʻi Kuhio became active in the Home Rule Party of Hawaii, which represented native Hawaiians and continued to fight for Hawaiian independence. He was often called Ke Ali’i Maka’āinana (Prince of the People) and is well known for his efforts to preserve and strengthen the Hawaiian people.

In 1903, Kūhiō reorganized the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, which held the first observance of the Kamehameha Day holiday in 1904. He was a founder of the first Hawaiian Civic Club on December 7, 1918. Kūhiō won passage of the Hawaiian Homes Act, and served on the first Hawaiian Homes Commission in 1921 setting aside 200,000 acres of land for Hawaiian homesteaders.

His legacy lives on in Hawai’i. Kūhiō is memorialized by streets, beaches, parks, schools, public and government buildings are named in his honor. Hawai’i celebrates Prince Kūhiō Day, an annual holiday set on his birthday of March 26th.

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