A princely affair

Celebrating Hawaii’s beloved Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole’s birthday can’t be done in a day.

Honoring the prince is better served spread out.

There’s just too much to do and learn.

“Come for a lot of education,” said George Thronas, director of Hawaiian culture, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, on the upcoming eight-day Prince Kuhio celebration that will focus on one of Kauai’s favorite sons. “There will be a lot of opportunity for education, to learn about the culture and the practices that are still done and, of course, live music and hula.”

The fifth annual event kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 21 with commemorative ceremonies with the Royal Order of Kamehameha at Prince Kuhio Park on Lawai Road, west of Poipu.

All events center around Poipu, where the prince was born. In line for succession of the Kingdom of Hawaii when it was overthrown in 1893, Kuhio later became a politician to the Territory of Hawaii and served as a delegate in the U.S. Congress.

Among his many achievements, Kuhio wrote the first Hawaii Statehood bill in 1919 and won passage of the Hawaiian Homes Act that created the Hawaiian Homes Commission, which many Hawaiians still benefit from. He helped reserve 200,000 acres for Hawaiian homesteaders.

“His legacy is still living on for many generations,” Thronas said.

Up to 2,500 people are expected to take part in the celebration. A bulk of the events are free and take place at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa as well as other South Shore locales, such as Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club, the National Tropical Botanical Garden, Prince Kuhio Park and Kukuiula Village.

And there are plenty of activities.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 22, the Prince Kuhio Rodeo will unleash at CJM Stables, hosted by the Kauai Keiki and High School Rodeo Association.

On Wednesday, March 25, a talk story session from kupuna versed in the Native Hawaiian culture will convey the traditional oral history and stories of Kauai’s south side. It will run from 9 to 10 a.m.

Looking for more?

Tour Makauwahi Cave at Makauwahi Reserve: 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 26 — Kuhio’s birthday. It’s the richest fossil site in the Hawaiian islands and it’s just east of Poipu. The 17-acre area serves to both interpret ancient history of Hawaiian plants, animals and human activity. Tours cost $10 and can be booked at 651-2479.

Hawaiian cultural demonstrations and hands-on learning sessions will take place Friday afternoon, while the Prince Kuhio Celebration Luau kicks off at 5 p.m. that evening at Smith’s Tropical Paradise, 3-5971 Kuhio Highway in Wailua.

Learn about the cooking style known as Kalua in the imu (underground oven) ceremony before enjoying a bounty of food, drinks and dances from Hawaii and around the Pacific. Tickets are $88 and reservations are required. 821-6895 or www.smithskauai.com.

On Saturday, March 28, the 44th annual Prince Kuhio Long Distance Canoe Race launches. At 8 a.m., the men’s division will paddle from Kalapaki Beach to just outside Kukuiula Harbor. At 10:30 a.m., the women’s teams will paddle to Salt Pond Park, where an awards ceremony will take place.

The fifth annual Anahola Prince Kuhio Day Celebration will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. that Saturday at Anahola Beach Park in Koolau. Syliva Cole of Anahola will be honored for her contributions and commitment to educational and cultural resources in the community. The festivities wrap up with a ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, March 29, followed by Taiko drumming at 9 a.m. at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa.

Info: Thronas, (808) 240-6369, george.thronas@hyatt.com or visit http://princekuhio.net.

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