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Peter Malina, jail-keeper at the old Lihu‘e Jail

Peter Malina (1877-1950), born in Lihu‘e, the son of John Malina and Keokilele Halemanu Ukeke Malina, was a jailor from 1909 until the mid-1920s at the old Lihu‘e Jail, once located in Nawiliwili on what is now the site of Guardian Self Storage.

Before becoming jailor, he was a paniolo on the William Hyde Rice Ranch in Kipu, where his brother, John Solomon Malina, served as head cowboy for many years and was famous throughout the Hawaiian Islands as a great polo player.

In 1911, when Malina, on duty at the jail, saw the nearby Lihu‘e Court House on fire where Kaua‘i High School now stands, he released his prisoners and rushed with them to the courthouse to extinguish the blaze by battering down doors and forming a bucket brigade.

Kalei Montgomery (1872-1953), one of his successors at the Lihu‘e Jail, was also known to utilize inmates in novel fashion.

Back in the days when fill had not yet been dumped into Nawiliwili Bay, Montgomery would stand on the bluff by his jail and look down for mullet swimming in the waters below.

When he saw a silver color flash in the bay, indicating that mullet were present, he would send an inmate down with a net to where he’d point to catch the jail’s supper.

Peter Malina also once equipped himself with a revolver and tracked down an armed prisoner who’d escaped from a work gang at Hule‘ia in 1913.

He surprised the escapee on a mountain trail, disarmed and arrested him.

Also, his Peter Malina Orchestra, noted for its jazz, was a fixture on the Kaua‘i social scene at parties, lu‘au and concerts.

And, his musically-gifted sister, Nani Alapa‘i (1874-1928), was the prima donna soprano of Henri Berger’s Royal Hawaiian Band, which traveled throughout Hawai‘i and on the Mainland.

Following his retirement from Lihu‘e Jail, Peter Malina moved to Makawao, Maui, and returned to his paniolo roots.

His four marriages were to Sarah Ahiona Malina, Carrie Kapule Malina, Sarah Paki Malina and Winnie Kealoha Malina, and there were 10 children all told.

  1. Jamie Rainbow April 4, 2021 6:24 pm Reply

    That was really cool, I guess you could say the guy was an all around cowboy.

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