Island History

When Kaua‘i had governors, appointed by kings, their word was law, and squabbles large and small were brought to them.

The longest-seated Kaua‘i governor, the first Paul Kanoa, served from 1846 to 1877, appointed by King Kamehameha III, according to Hank Soboleski in his book “History Makers of Kauai.”

Kanoa’s son, Paul Kanoa, also served as Kaua‘i’s governor, from 1882 to 1886. The younger Paul Kanoa’s residence was in Niumalu, near the Hule‘ia Stream and Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor, a place where the late Stanford Achi lived for many years.

The elder Paul Kanoa was born on the Big Island, and served as assistant to missionaries and clerk to the governor of O‘ahu, Mataio Kekuanaoa, before receiving his Kaua‘i appointment.

Of Kaua‘i’s 10 governors, beginning with Ke‘eaumoku in 1824, and ending with William Hyde Rice, whose term ended in 1893, the elder Paul Kanoa remained in office the longest, 31 years.

During his term as governor, the elder Paul Kanoa was known as a gentleman, honorable and dignified, and an eloquent speaker and a Hawaiian scholar as well.

He was an authority on the oral traditions of his people, and the nuances of the Hawaiian language, and as governor exercised one-man rule.

His word was law, and problems of all sorts, brought before him at the courthouse atop the bluff where Kaua‘i High School now stands, were settled with dispatch.

His official residence was a frame house with a cellar that was situated near the courthouse, but his home of over 30 years was on the site now occupied by Banyan Harbor Resort.

Kanoa attended every session of the Hawaiian Legislature from 1845 to 1882, as a Noble of the Kingdom. He died in Honolulu in 1885.

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