Historical society offers talk on Kaumualii

LIHUE — There are no pictures of Kauai and Niihau’s last king, King Kaumualii, but his legacy shows what type of leader he was.

In association with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Kauai Historical Society is hosting a talk-story presentation on the life of King Kaumualii with Kauai storyteller auntie Aletha Kaohi of the Friends of King Kaumualii.

“Because there aren’t any pictures of him, even more so we should rely on firsthand accounts and documented history, written not just by Westerners but by Hawaiians,” said Helen Wong Smith, executive director of the Kauai Historical Society. “Native Hawaiian newspapers are full of firsthand accounts of King Kaumualii. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

The presentation will be held at the Regency at Puakea on Sept. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m.

“Kaumualii — Kauai’s Last King” will feature conversations on King Kaumualii’s life and also of recent community efforts to memorialize his legacy.

“We decided that by having it at the Regency at Puakea, we figured the residents there could attend as well,” Smith said. “We’re trying very hard to make a diversity of topics. A lot of people have been coming into the (Kauai) Historical Society asking about more information about Kaumualii, so we felt that this was a good topic.”

King Kaumualii was the 23rd high chief of Kauai, reigning from 1794-1810 until he famously negotiated with King Kamehameha I for the unification of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

“Kauai people are very proud of the fact that Kauai was not conquered by Kamehameha, and so much of it is credited to the high ranking of Kaumualii,” Smith said. “And when you consider that he did political negotiations to avoid bloodshed by having Kamehameha come over, (it) is pretty significant. It shows what type of politician and negotiator he was.”

The event is free and open to the public.

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