Prince Kuhio remembered

A&B offers land to expand park — Native Hawaiian leaders, visitors and residents gathered yesterday at the Prince Kuhio Park in Koloa to commemorate a Kaua’i ali’i who is heralded for having brought attention and honor to Hawaiian culture and history.

Up to 250 people remembered Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole Pi’ikoi as the man who initiated in Congress the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1919 that has provided homestead and farming land for thousands of native Hawaiians.

Event participants said some of Kuhio’s chief lifetime achievements include supporting agriculture and business development in Hawai’i and his election to Congress ten times before his death at age 50 on Jan. 22, 1922.

They said Kuhio’s achievements made them proud “to be Hawaiian.”

Speakers at the colorful annual ceremony included Tommy Contrades, the Kaua’i representative on the Hawaiian Homes Commission and longtime Kaua’i labor leader, who choked back tears in paying tribute to Kuhio.

In reading about Kuhio’s work in government, Contrades said he was “blown away” by the racism and other obstacles Kuhio confronted in Congress while lobbying for programs for Hawaiians.

“This man truly loved his people,” Contrades said.

The event was hosted by the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, Chapter 3, “Kaumuali’i” and the Na Wahine Hui O Kamehameha.

The celebration was held at the park, which marks the humble birthplace of Kuhio in the late 1800s at what was then a fishing village. Presentations of lei and chants were given before a commemorative monument in that park that was erected in Kuhio’s memory.

The event is held each March to honor Kuhio.

A full day of events marking Kuhio’s birthday were also scheduled to be held at the Hyatt Regency Kaua’i under the sponsorship of the hotel.

Among the dignitaries at the Prince Kuhio Park celebration were:

  • House Rep. Ezra Kanoho, a native Hawaiian and chairperson of the House Water, Land Use and Hawaiian Affairs Committee. Kanoho said he put aside thoughts of retiring from politics to help Hawaiians.

    Kanoho, in his 17th consecutive year with the state Legislature, said “we (Hawaiians and Hawaiians “at heart”) are doing this to preserve all that he (Kuhio) has accomplished and what he stood for.”

    Mayor Bryan Baptiste, who is part Hawaiian, and a member of the native Hawaiian organization Aha Hui Na Ali’i, said he remembers Kuhio as a man “who worked through much adversity, the overthrow (of Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893).”

    “He worked continuously to make changes and worked for the Hawaiian community which he loved,” Baptiste said. “It is a good day to retouch your heritage, reflect on who we are as Hawaiians and make sure we perpetuate the best we have to offer.”

  • La France Arboleda Kapaka, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs representative on Kaua’i, said Kuhio “fought righteously for our people.” Through Kuhio’s efforts and those of others at preserving the Hawaiian race, the number of Hawaiians has increased from a low of about 40,000 to about 400,000 today, she said.

    Kapaka said the late-Gladys Brandt, a renowned Hawai’i educator and the first native Hawaiian principal at Kamehameha Schools, had a philosophy that has helped to keep Hawaiian society strong.

    Kapaka said Brandt believed that Hawaiians “always prized and treasured the collective over the individual, the individual over the material, and the collaborative over the competitive.”

  • Brandt’s grandson, Randy Brandt Wichman, also attended the ceremony to pay respects to Kuhio.
  • Tom Shigemoto, Alexander and Baldwin vice president, said his father taught him Hawaiian values he has embraced all his life.

    His father taught him to respect one’s elders, “take care of the land and the land will take care of you,” and to share, said Shigemoto.

  • Warren Perry, a ranking member of the Order of Kamehameha, thanked Shigemoto for helping to set up an agreement that would convey between 16 to 19 acres next to Prince Kuhio Park to the Order of Kamehameha for an enlargement of the park.

Kuhio was born in 1871, the youngest of three sons of Kaua’i ali’i David Kahalepouli Pi’ikoi and Princess Kinoiki Kekaulike.

Kuhio was the second cousin of King David Kalakaua and of his sister, Queen Lili’uokalani, and was the nephew of Queen Kapiolani. He was named as an heir to the throne by Lili’uokalani.

Kuhio was educated in California and at the Royal Agricultural College in England. He returned to Hawai’i shortly before the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893.

At age 24, Prince Kuhio joined opponents of the newly-formed Republic of Hawaii in 1895, was arrested and convicted for treason and sentenced to jail for one year. His remains are interred at the royal mausoleum in Nu’uanu Valley on Oahu.

Among dignitaries who honored Kuhio yesterday were Dean Toyofuku, representing Congressman Ed Case and Laurie Yoshida, Gov. Linda Lingle’s liaison for Kaua’i.

Hawaiian organizations participating in the tribute included: Aha Hui O Ka’ahumanu; Hale O Na Ali’i; the Hawaiian Civic Clubs representing Lihu’e, Hanalei and Kaumuali’i; the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands; Alu Like Inc.-Kauai Island Center; Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate; Ho’ola Lahui Hawai’i; Office of Hawaiian Affairs; Queen Lili’uokalani Children’s Center; Ka Pa Kui A Holo-Kaua’i; and Ka Lahui Hawai’i.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net

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