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Celebrating Prince Kuhio

LIHUE — The county government we experience today is a result of the work done by Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Piikoi. Kuhio’s life, genealogy and work was recognized in a Prince Kuhio observance Saturday at the Kauai Museum as part of its Ohana Day programming.

An amendment to the Organic Act of 1905 approved the formation of county governments with officers and personnel for administration of each county.

This was a measure to help place Hawaiians in positions of influence and power to advocate for the Hawaiian people.

“He worked hard for his people,” said Alicia Leong of Kilauea, a member of Ahahui Kiwila Hawaii O Moikeha Hawaiian Civic Club. “His legacy is still here today.”

Kaliko Santos of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs agreed, noting the Rehabilitation Act was Kuhio’s greatest accomplishment, creating the Hawaiian Homes program.

“We’re still giving away land today,” Santos said.

The intent of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act was to provide the Hawaiian population opportunities for getting back to the land and a lifestyle which took them out of the cities. The very first tract of land designated for this purpose on Kauai was in Anahola.

Wini Smith, president of the Ahahui Kiwila Hawaii O Moikeha, said Kuhio created the first Hawaiian Civic Club in 1918 — The Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu.

“The purpose of the Hawaiian Civic Club was to perpetuate and rehabilitate the Hawaiian people and its culture,” Smith said. “Our club is named after the first ruling king of Kauai. From the first club formed by Kuhio, there are now 67 Hawaiian civic clubs throughout the state of Hawaii and the continent. These are under the umbrella of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs.”

Santos said Kuhio worked hard to establish and organize Hawaiian societies and groups which promoted a sense of pride and respect in their culture and traditional ways despite changing times.

“The organization of the Order of Kamehameha by Kuhio set the path for the revival of other Hawaiian societies such as the Hale O Na Alii, the Kaahumanu Society, and the Daughters and Sons of Hawaiian Warriors, and more,” Santos said. “A statue of the ‘Citizen Prince’ was erected at his birthplace at Hoai, Kuali, in Koloa in 1928.”

The site, known as Prince Kuhio Park, is maintained by members of the Royal Order of Kamehameha who will host the commemorative service on March 21 starting at 10 a.m. celebrating the birth of Prince Jonah Kuhio.

The event marks the start of a weeklong celebration paying tribute to Kuhio including events like a rodeo (Kuhio was an accomplished athlete), long-distance canoe races, walaau, luau and historical walks.

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