Honoring Prince Kūhiō
March 08, 2023
Affectionately referred to as the Prince of the People, Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, or Prince Kūhiō, was born in Kōloa on March 26, 1871. Prince Kūhiō Day is celebrated yearly on March 26. Beloved for generations as a symbol of heritage and advocacy, Prince Kūhiō played an important role in Hawaiʻi’s history through his work on behalf of the Hawaiian people and preserving Hawaiian culture.
How He Lived
Heir to the Hawaiian throne before the fall of the monarchy in Hawaiʻi, Prince Kūhiō fought to maintain the Hawaiian Kingdom. He was later charged with treason and imprisoned for a year once Hawaiʻi’s independence was eradicated by U.S. and European influences in 1893. The prince was released and pardoned when Queen Lili‘uokalani officially renounced the throne for the release of her supporters.
After his release from prison Prince Kūhiō and his wife Chiefess Elizabeth Kahanu Kaauwai traveled abroad, returning to Hawaiʻi in the early 1900s. Prince Kūhiō went on to represent the state of Hawaiʻi in Congress for ten terms as a non-voting member to give Hawaiʻi a presence and a seat at the table. During his time as a representative, Prince Kūhiō became the connection between the Hawaiian people and a new government structure. He quickly adapted and utilized his position to protect his home.
During his time in Congress, Prince Kūhiō championed many bills and projects to protect the Hawaiian people and the ʻāina. The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1921 ensured that Native Hawaiians would be able to have homes on their native land–a bill of extreme importance, even today. He worked towards getting national park accreditations, sourced funding for hospitals, and establishing historical landmarks like Pearl Harbor.
In 1919, he sponsored a bill calling for Hawaiian statehood. That bill took 40 years before it was enacted, but Prince Kūhiō’s efforts still live on in the hearts of native Hawaiians. In an effort to further preserve Hawaiian culture, Prince Kūhiō spearheaded the revival of the Royal Order of Kamehameha and founded the first Hawaiian Civic Club. The prince died in Honolulu in 1922 at the age of 50, but his legacy is celebrated yearly as a reminder to embrace and celebrate the Hawaiian culture.
HOW WE CELEBRATE HIM TODAY
Every year, Prince Kūhiō Day is celebrated on March 26 in a plethora of ways here on Kauaʻi. On Monday, March 27th, 2023, most businesses will be closed, and statues of the beloved prince will be adorned with lei as a symbol of love and remembrance throughout the weekend.
The Kauaʻi Outrigger Association holds an annual race on Prince Kūhiō Day where every canoe racing club sends their team to compete. This year, the 53rd Annual Kūhiō Long Distance Race will be held on March 25, 2023, at Kalapaki Beach.
Prince Kūhiō Park in Kōloa honors the prince as well with homage to his family homesite, a royal fishpond, and a heiau (shrine) to pay tribute.
Anahola Beach is known for its yearly celebration with local cuisine, vendors, music, and more.
The Kauaʻi Museum celebrated earlier this month with traditional hula, songs, and storytelling, but a visit to the museum is always a way to pay homage to Prince Kūhiō by learning more about Hawaiian culture.