Prince Kuhio Park, located on Lawai Road on the south shore of Kauai, was established in 1924 on land donated by McBryde Sugar Co. to an organization now known as Royal Order of Kamehameha I which maintains it. The property is culturally significant and an ancient Heiau is located at the back of the property. The park also honors the birthplace of Prince Kuhio.
An ancient saltwater fishpond (seen in the upper right of the above photo) once supported the heiau located at the back of Prince Kuhio Park. Originally, Lawai Road made a broad inland turn following the rock wall to skirt the pond and the channel feeding it. When the road was improved, a culvert was added to bridge the channel, allowing the road to be straightened. Seawater still circulates under the road to the fishpond and its level fluctuates with the tide. Fish are free to come and go as they like.
An ancient guard station next to the fishpond was once used to prevent people from stealing fish from the pond that were there for the benefit of those at the heiau.
Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana`ole Piikoi (Prince Kuhio) was born March 26, 1871, the third son of the royal union of Queen Ka-pi`o-lani's sister, Esther Kino`iki Ke-kaulike and David Ka-hale-pouli Pi`ikoi. He was great grandson of King Kaumualii, the last king of Kauai.
Jonah and his brother David were adopted into the childless royal family and were each given the title of prince. They were crown bearers at the coronation of Ka-la-kaua. Their eldest brother Edward died in his teens. Prince Jonah Kuhio was educated in California and England. He also spent time in Japan.
Primarily due to the growing sugarcane industry which was dominated by American and European businessmen, the 1800s saw Hawaii's economy become more and more entwined with that of the United States. Beginning in 1849 the two countries began entering treaties to help define their relations. Economic and political pressures eventually led to the controversial annexation of Hawaii by the U.S. in 1889.
In 1893 when Jonah was 22, the Hawaiian Monarchy was overthrown and his aunt, Queen Liliuokalani was put under house arrest. Young Prince Kuhio joined the revolutionaries which were trying to restore the monarchy. As a result, he was arrested, charged with treason, and imprisoned for a year. He was eventually pardoned when the Queen abdicated her throne to win his release along with the release of other jailed supporters including, Minister Joseph Nawahi, Prince David Kawananakoa (Jonah's brother), and Robert Wilcox. In 1896, Prince Jonah Kuhio married Elizabeth Kahanu Kaauwai who was the daughter of a Maui chief. In protest of the revolution and the unfair treatment of the Hawaiian people, he and his bride left Hawaii and spent time traveling in Europe and South America where they were treated as visiting royalty. He also traveled to Africa where he joined the British army to fight in the Second Boer War.
In 1901, Kuhio returned from his self-imposed exile to take part in post-annexation politics where he continued to fight for Hawaiian independence as part of the radical Home Rule Party of Hawaii. His brother David led the Democratic Party. Within a short time, Kuhio switched parties and joined the Republicans (which represented some of the same businessmen responsible for the overthrow of the Monarchy.) Happy to have him, the Republicans gave him a strong leadership position.
Kuhio was elected in 1902 as Hawaii Delegate to the U.S. Congress in a landslide victory. Eventually winning a total of 10 elections, he served from 1903 until his death in 1922.
Prince Kuhio reorganized the Royal Order of Ka-mehameha I and also founded the first Hawaiian Civic Club. Kuhio was instrumental in establishing Hawaiian canoe racing as an internationally-recognized sport.
In 1919, Kuhio introduced in Congress the first Hawaii Statehood Act. 40 years later, in August of 1959, Hawaii became the 50th State.
Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana`ole died January 7, 1922 in Honolulu. He was the last person given a state funeral befitting an ali`i (king). He is buried in the Royal Mausoleum in Nu`u-anu, Oahu. In 1949, Hawaii recognized March 26 as Kuhio Day, a state holiday honoring Prince Kuhio.
The monument to Prince Kuhio was unveiled at a dedication in June of 1928 with approximately 10,000 attending. Hundreds of notables and members of the "Order" attended in full regalia of yellow "mahiole" and yellow and red "ahu ula." Many members of the Aha Hui O Kaahumanu were present with their black muumuus and yellow feather leis.
Prince Kuhio Park is an interesting diversion on the south shore. Please be respectful of the heiau and rock structures on the property. The caretakers will share information with you about the park and answer any questions you have. There are several condominium projects located next to the park including Kuhio Shores and Prince Kuhio Condos.
Pictures and Comments By Doug Porter
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