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Prince Kuhio Day – In Memory Of “the Citizen Prince”

Prince Kuhio Day – In Memory Of “the Citizen Prince”

On March 26th all of Hawaii comes together to celebrate the birthday of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole – known as “the Citizen Prince” and “the Prince of the People”. Prince Kuhio Day was established in 1949 as Hawaii state holiday.

In 2023, March 26 falls on a Sunday, so the holiday is observed on Monday, March 27.

Prince Kuhio is fondly remembered and celebrated for his role and persistent efforts towards carving a better life for the Hawaiian people.

Prince Kuhio was born in 1871 on the island of Kauai. The sacred site of his birthing house is located in Prince Kuhio Park in Poipu, Kauai. Addition of 16 more acres to the park was announced during the Prince Kuhio Day celebration of 2018.

Hula dancer in Kuhio Park, Kauai
Hula dancer in Kuhio Park. Photo by Ray S.

Life and Legacy of Prince Kuhio

Kuhio was born into a noble family. After the death of both parents, he was adopted by Queen Kapi’olani and became a Prince.

His commitment to improving the lives of the Hawaiian people led him to become a politician in the Territory of Hawaii and serve as a delegate to the United States Congress – a position he was re-elected to 10 times.

Prince Kuhio introduced a very important bill in 1919 which would enable Hawaii to be admitted into the US as a fully-fledged state. Although it took four long decades, Hawaii become the 50th state of America in 1959.

It was also through the efforts of Prince Kuhio that the congress passed the 1921 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, allocating 200,000 acres of land for homes of native Hawaiian families on Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Big Island.

Prince Kuhio statue in Waikiki with leis around his neck, dressed in business suit similar to what he wore as a delegate to congress.
Prince Kuhio statue in Waikiki. Photo by Mark Goebel

While Prince Kuhio is remembered for these two major achievements, his life and legacy are exemplary of what true leaders across the globe have always aspired and fought for – the betterment and development of a people. He strongly believed that cooperation was the key to building political power – the only way of improving the lives of people as opposed to resistance. 

A Fearless and a Visionary Prince

Fearless in his life, at the age of 24 Prince Kuhio joined a Royalist uprising which opposed the new republic in 1895. During this period he was captured and convicted of treason. He then went on to join a group of industrialists to overthrow the monarchy despite being named as an heir to the throne.

On December 6th, 1918, he founded the first Hawaiian Civic Club. Since its inception, members of the club have continued to uphold the vision of Prince Kuhio by organizing social and civic activities that focus on improving the lives of native Hawaiians.

How Hawaii Celebrates Prince Kuhio Day

A variety of events are organized across the state of Hawaii spanning the last two weeks of March to mark Prince Kuhio Day.

Each of these events are echoed through all the major Hawaii islands. Week-long festivals and parades beautifully showcase traditions, cultural practices and customs of the Hawaiian people.

In addition, a number of health organizations are actively involved in the month-long celebrations around Prince Kuhio Day. Events and programs help improve and encourage health awareness among the community – this initiative aligns with Kuhio’s vision of improving peoples’ lives.

Prince Kuhio Day in Kauai 

The island of Kauai, which is the birth place of Prince Kuhio, organizes a wide and fun range of events and programs such as food festivals, outrigger canoeing, rodeo, and luaus – traditional celebrations of a number of occasions through food, music, fun games, and dance.

After passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act in 1921, 200 thousand acres of land were set aside for Hawaiian homesteads on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Hawaii island, and Molokai. Anahola in Kauai was one of the sites. On March 16th, 2019, the 9th Annual Anahola Prince Kuhio Day Celebration will be held at Anahola Beach Park.

The Royal Order of Kamehameha I, a group that Kuhio re-established in 1903, will host its commemorative ceremony, at the Prince Kuhio Park in Poipu, near Kuhio’s birthing place. The program will honor the legacy of Prince Kuhio and his relentless pursuit of enhancing the lives of Hawaiian people.

Prince Kuhio Day festivities also take place in larger hotels on Kauai South Shore, such as in Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa and Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club. Taiko performance, craft fair, demonstrations of Hawaiian weaving, lei making and other native techniques fill the day and entertain the guests.

Prince Kuhio Day in Oahu

Prince Kuhio died on January 7, 1922, in Waikiki, on the island of Oahu. Special services are held at Oahu’s Royal Mausoleum (Mauna ‘Ala or Fragrant Hills in Hawaiian), his final resting place.

Chapel – Royal Mausoleum, Honolulu. Wikipedia photo.

The island of Oahu holds a series of festivals and programs which include the Prince Kuhio Commemorative Parade, a Choral concert, a fundraiser ball, Hawaiian arts and crafts exhibits, food stalls, as well as live music and hula dancers.

2 thoughts on “Prince Kuhio Day – In Memory Of “the Citizen Prince”

  1. If you have a time and date for the service in honor of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole at Mauna ‘Ala, please let me know. In my retirement after 49 years with Hawai’i public schools, I have learned more history of our wonderful land, especially the huge contributions the Prince Kuhio made, despite being a Congressman without a vote. I want to pay my respects and also plan to attend church at Kawaiahao Church on Sunday and possibly hear music and history there that evening if I can delay my return to my home in Hilo until Monday.

    Mahalo nui loa,
    Robert Hillier

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