Kaua’i has a unique legacy as the only island in the Hawaiian chain that was unconquered by King Kamehameha. Twice he tried to invade; twice he failed, once by the treacherous channel waters, and once due to disease overtaking his army. There was a powerful prayer—“Ane’e Kapuahi”—used by Chiefess Kamakahelei, said to protect Kaua’i.
Kamakahelei’s son, King Kaumuali’i, ruled Kaua’i during this time, and when Kamehameha was planning a third attempt, this time with modern weapons, he wisely made a pact with Kamehameha: Kaua’i would be a tributary of the Kingdom of Hawai’i, but her son would still rule his island, saving Kaua’i’s people from bloodshed and war.
“That decision alone merits a statue as an everlasting honor,” said Aletha Kaohi, manager of the West Kaua`i Technology & Visitor Center in Waimea, and President of Friends of King Kaumuali’i, an organization formed in 2004 with two goals: educate Kaua`i’s youth about their island’s last King, and erect a statue of him to honor his legacy. This year, they are fulfilling their vision.
Last month, on August 6, Mayor Bernard Carvalho made a Proclamation that 2013 is the “Year of King Kaumuali’i.” With support from the Department of Education, a color poster and a Historical Timeline of the King were distributed to the island’s public, charter and private schools for teachers to use. In addition, Kaohi is working with author Lee Croft crafting a children’s book on the life of King Kaumuali’i.
The statue that the organization envisioned proved to be a challenge, because there was no portrait of him available that represented the King in authenticity, Kaohi said.
Earlier this year, Kaohi saw a portrait of Kaumuali’i in a book (written by Croft) by the artist Brook Kapukuniahi Parker.
“When I saw it, I said, that’s it…the picture gave us the inspiration to move forward,” Kaohi said.
The painting (on cover) is the muse from which the statue will be made. The statue’s location will be at Pa’ula’ula, Russian Fort, where in 1816 King Kaumuali’i formed a temporary alliance with the Czar of Russia, Alexander Pavlovich, to protect Kaua’i from a possible future attack from Kamehameha. The landmark represents Kaumuali’i’s diplomatic achievements during his rule and his success with foreigners.
A Celebration fit for a King
Friends of King Kaumuali’i are hosting a “Festival of Stars and Flavors of Waimea” on October 19, from noon until sunset in Waimea town at C.B. Hoffgard Park. In addition to a range of different cuisines offered by West Kaua’i food establishments, the event will feature “Na Mele o Kaumuali’i,” showcasing original compositions about significant events and places connected to the King.
“In order to preserve something, it’s through music,” Kaohi said. “People remember because they will sing about it.” The event is a chance for Kaua’i songwriters to submit their work, and a chance for everyone to honor and celebrate Kaua’i’s last King. For more information about the event, call 338-1332.
References: King Kaumuali’i Historical Timeline, compiled by Aletha G. Kaohi and Stanley H. Lum, West Kaua’i Technology & Visitor Center.
Festival of Stars and Flavors of Waimea
What: Na Mele o Kaumuali’i, musical festival showcasing original compositions about King Kaumuali’i, as well as West Kaua’i food establishments providing popular cultural cuisine.
When: October 19
Time: Noon to Sunset
Where: C.B. Hoffgard Park, Waimea Town, fronting First Hawaiian Bank
King Kaumuali’i: A History (from King Kaumuali’i Historical Timeline)
- 1778/1780: Born in Wailua to Kamakahelei and Kaeokulani.
- 1794: Kamakahelei died, Kaumuali’i became Ali’i Aimoku (ruler) of Kaua’i.
- 1796: King Kamehameha attempted to invade Kaua’i but was turned back by a storm.
- 1803: Kamehameha tried again, but he and his army became sick with disease.
- 1804-1810, Kaumuali’i served Kaua’i.
- 1810: Kaumuali’i and Kamehameha agreed Kaua’i would become a tributary kingdom over which Kaumuali’i would continue to govern, which he did until 1820.
- 1820: Liholiho, successor of Kamehameha after his death, kidnapped Kaumuali’i to O’ahu, where he was compelled to marry Ka’ahumanu.
- 1824: Kaumuali’i died. He is buried at Waine’e Cemetery on Maui.