Celebrating Hawaii’s Last Reigning Prince
Why Hawaii honors Prince Kuhio with a state holiday each March 26
If you happen to be in Hawaii on March 26, make it a point to take part in Kuhio Day festivities honoring the life of Hawaii’s revered Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana‘ole Pi‘ikoi.
The Prince made such monumental achievements that he remains one of only two crown heads of state to be honored with an official holiday. Hawaii’s King Kamehameha was the first, with this mighty warrior celebrated each year on June 11.
Established in 1949 by the legislature of the Territory of Hawaii, the State of Hawaii holiday lauds the royal Prince who went from being the adopted son of a king to a counter-revolutionary and on to Hawaii’s voice in the U.S. Congress.
While he is widely known locally for his successful effort to have the U.S. Congress pass the 1920 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act to provide homesteads for native Hawaiians, the “Citizen Prince” lived a very unique life that helped him shape Hawaii.
Here are 10 reasons that Prince Kuhio deserves his own holiday!
1) He Sparked The Movement For Hawaii Statehood
As the last of the alii (Hawaiian royalty) to hold true political power, Prince Kuhio introduced the first congressional resolution in 1920 that called for Hawaii Statehood–which finally came to fruition when Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state in 1959.
2) He Was The Last Prince Of Hawaii
Kuhio was made prince under King Kalakaua, along with his brothers, David Laamea Kahalepouli Kinoiki Kawananakoa and Edward Abnel Keliiahonui. His brothers passed away in 1908 and 1887, respectively, while Prince Kuhio died in 1922 as the last prince of Hawaii.
3) He Escaped A Death Sentence For Treason
Prince Kuhio served a year in prison for rebelling against the Republic of Hawaii in 1895. A few of his compatriots, including Robert Wilcox and Charles Gulick, were sentenced to death for treason. However, they were later pardoned after serving time in prison.
4) He Was The First Titled Royal In U.S. Congress
Prince Kuhio was the first prince in U.S. Congress, serving as a Republican for 19 years until his death in 1922.
5) He Secured Financial Support To Fund Monumental Attractions
While many in Washington, D.C. considered Hawaiians to be simple natives, Prince Kuhio charmed and engaged Congress into appropriating millions of dollars for the construction of Pearl Harbor, the Territorial Building in Honolulu, and the Hilo Wharf. He’s also credited securing government funding to create Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which originally included Haleakala as well.
6) Prince Kuhio and his two cousins brought surfing (The Sport of Kings) to the mainland
During the summer of 1885, three young Hawaiian princes ages from 14 to 17 (David, Edward and Jonah, all nephews of King David Kalakaua) were attending a military school in San Mateo County, California (now in the city of Burlingame). They rode the waves at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River on redwood planks they ordered cut in the shape of old surfboards by the local timber mill and started a craze. This is the first recorded instance of surfing in California and the Western World outside of Polynesia.
7) He Fought A War In South Africa
While visiting Africa, Prince Kuhio joined forces with the British Army in the Second Boer War. And they won!
8) He Created A “Man Cave” In Washington, D.C.
While he was serving in Congress, the Prince was said to have rented an apartment in Washington, D.C. that he decorated with hunting trophies he acquired during his time in Africa. He referred to this “men’s club” as the Bird’s Nest.
9) He Was Considered A Renaissance Man
Prince Kuhio attended Royal School, Iolani (where he earned the nickname “Prince Cupid”) and Punahou School on Oahu, plus Saint Matthew’s School (California) and Royal Agricultural College (England). The Prince was also a talented athlete who participated in football, baseball, track, wrestling, boxing, polo, and rowing.
10) He Is Buried At Oahu’s Royal Mausoleum
Many people honor the Prince by attending special services on March 26 at the Royal Mausoleum in Nuuanu, the burial place of Hawaiian royalty. Originally built in 1862 by King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma as a burial site for their deceased four-year old son, Prince Albert, the Mausoleum was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
How To Celebrate Prince Kuhio Day
It just makes sense that the Prince’s birth island of Kauai would host a stellar birthday celebration to honor him.
The annual Anahola Prince Kuhio Day Celebration takes place on the third Saturday of March at Anahola Beach Park. Guests may take part in a fun-filled day of activities, live music, entertainment, and hula performances that celebrate both the past and embrace the future of Prince Kuhio’s legacy. Count on food and craft booths, plus educational, cultural, health and wellness exhibits for the entire family.
We hope you enjoyed our little taste of Aloha! If you ever have any questions or story ideas, please e-mail us at [email protected]!
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