Our Citizen Prince
There are many reasons to celebrate the life of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana‘ole. The Kauai native, fondly known as “ke ali‘i maka‘ainana” or “the citizen prince,” persevered in standing up for native Hawaiian rights. Born March 26 in Koloa, his birthday continues to mark an important time in history and serves as a reminder of his altruism. The seventh annual Anahola Prince Kuhio Day Celebration pays homage to his life Saturday (March 18), from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Anahola Beach Park.
“Being that we are all homesteaders here, we wanted to share the benefits and legacy that Prince Kuhio left,” says Lorna “La” Con-trades, an Anahola resident who is on the team that coordinates the celebration each year.
Prince Kuhio is most famously known for leading the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, resulting in approximately 200,000 acres of land, including Anahola, being set aside for native Hawaiians.
His political involvement began in the late 1800s as part of a group attempting to restore the monarchy. While he was imprisoned for his actions and subsequently left the Islands for a brief period of time, he returned to become a prominent voice for the native people. The great-grandson of King Kaumuali‘i, he was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1902 to represent the Territory of Hawaii and went on to serve a total of 10 terms.
He helped establish Hawaiian Civic Club as well as governmental infrastructure, including the county system in operation today. He also sponsored the first bill for statehood in 1919. However, he is most revered for what Contrades calls “the perpetual growth of a healthy Hawaiian community on aina ho‘opulapula (homesteads land).”
The annual Anahola festival dedicated to Prince Kuhio was established in 2011, but it has roots that began in 2010. The seed was planted after an unfortunate series of suicides that struck the eastside town in 2008. “It was a wake-up call for the community,” says Contrades.
Many individuals and organizations within the community initiated a beach cleanup in 2010, designed to bring people together and work for a greater cause.
“It also was significant in terms of rising from the ashes with the loss of three ‘opio to suicide, and working together as a Hawaiian community to plan, share and celebrate life with residents and visitors,” says Contrades.
Now, the event continues connecting the community by honoring Prince Kuhio. An all-volunteer group hosts the annual Anahola showcase, which includes entertainment by area schools, including Aha Punana Leo and Kanuikapono Public Charter School. Moreover, Lady Ipo Kahaunaele-Ferreira, an Anahola homesteader who sits on the Anahola Prince Kuhio Day Celebration planning committee, serves as emcee and entertainment coordinator.
“We have a lot of talent in Anahola,” says Contrades, who also volunteers for nonprofit Ka Hale Pono Inc.
The free, family-friendly event includes Hawaiian games such as konane, water slides, and a bounce house for keiki. “Sparky’s Fire Safety House” as well as informational booths will be on hand to educate the public about topics such as native culture, and food by Anahola vendors will be available for purchase.
“It really is an ohana event,” says Kahanu Keawe, who resides in Anahola and volunteered to help organize the event. “It’s a wholesome activity to be at.”
One of the most cherished aspects of the celebration, however, is the respect paid each year to a kupuna whose life parallels Prince Kuhio’s. This year, the late Moses “Moke” Kapalekilaheo Keale Sr. was chosen as honoree.
Keale, an Anahola resident who died May 3, 2000, dedicated two decades of his life as an Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee in service of native communities on Kauai and Niihau. His family continues to reside in Anahola.
“Our theme is to honor the past and embrace the future,” says Contrades. “We honor Anahola kupuna who have made a difference in the community; who exemplify the qualities of the prince.”
Keawe agrees that Keale demonstrated qualities similar to Prince Kuhio. “They both had aloha for this place and Native Hawaiians,” she says.
Aloha is bound to be in abundance at this weekend’s celebration, funded by Hawaii Tourism Authority and in partnership with County of Kauai and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
“The biggest draw is, if you want to feel like there’s still good in the world and life is still good, then come to this event,” says Keawe, “because you’ll meet a lot of good people, the kupuna come out, there’s great entertainment. There’s just a lot of good.”