LIHU‘E — Throughout the past week, festivities honoring Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana‘ole Pi‘ikoi have centered around Po‘ipu and Koloa, coordinated by Stella Burgess of the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa.
Monday, the actual birthdate of Kuhio, guests watched in awe as Lopaka Bukoski, the educational coordinator for the Kaua‘i Museum, opened the day with a pule and lei ho‘okupu for a display of a portrait of the prince.
Since 1949, March 26 has been designated as Kuhio Day, a state holiday honoring the prince, states a “Kaua‘i Heritage” display at the museum.
“The State of Hawai‘i marks the 141st birthday of Prince Kuhio in tribute to a beloved ali‘i,” state Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawai‘i, said in a news release. “He is remembered for his tireless advocacy for the Native Hawaiian community, the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act as a member of Congress, and leadership during a critical period in the history of Hawai‘i.”
Prince Kuhio was the great-grandson of Kaua‘i’s last ruling chief, Kamuali‘i, and was one of the named heirs to the Kalakaua dynasty of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
His aunt was Queen Kapi‘olani, and King David Kalakaua was his uncle. Both raised him and his brothers as successors to the throne. Prince Kuhio outlived the monarchy and chose to help his people by serving in the new government.
Following the overthrow of the monarchy, he led an unsuccessful attempt at regaining power for Queen Lili‘uokalani, Kuhio’s sister. He was briefly imprisoned for treason towards the Republic of Hawai‘i for the attempt.
Prince Kuhio also is remembered as the first Hawaiian representative elected to the U.S. Congress, where he served for 20 years.
His legacy is the establishment of the Order of Kamehameha, the Kaumuali‘i chapter being the caretakers of the current Prince Kuhio Park, situated close to the prince’s birthplace in Po‘ipu.
He also established the Chiefs of Hawai‘i, the Hawaiian Civic Clubs, national parks on Maui and the Big Island and the Hawaiian Homes Commission (in 1921, following 10 years of lobbying).
He established county governments with elected officials.
“Prince Kuhio’s strong belief in civic duty, grassroots activism and the preservation of the Native Hawaiian culture resulted in the reorganization of the Royal Order of Kamehameha and the establishment of the first Hawaiian civic club,” Hirono said.
“Now there are more than 50 Hawaiian Civic Clubs which have been established in Hawai‘i and the continental United States. These organizations proudly keep Native Hawaiian traditions, language, and culture alive and work to improve the conditions of the Native Hawaiian people and our island communities,” she said.
Prince Kuhio died in 1922 at the age of 50.