Aloha Authentic: Legacy of Prince Kūhiō

Aloha Authentic

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The last time you drove down the street, did you take note of the street’s name? Do you know that if you did, you could learn more about Hawaiʻi and our history?  

On KHON2’s weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment, we highlight various roadways across the islands so we can dig into the given names, and in turn, learn something new.  

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This week, we highlighted the legacy of the man nicknamed “The Prince of the People.”

On the island of Kauai, from the ahupuaʻa of Kalapakī to the ahupuaʻa of Hāʻena, stands a main roadway named after a Hawaiian prince who became a U.S. congressman: Kūhiō Highway.

Born from a line of Kauaʻi kings, Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole was named a prince at a young age. While attending a military boarding school in California, Prince Kūhiō and his brothers introduced the sport of surfing to America after sliding on waves with redwood planks in the mouth of the San Lorenzo River.

As a statesman, Prince Kūhiō is famous for the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, which created the Hawaiian Homelands. But his influence expands further.  

Our current county system across the state was influenced by the prince, establishing the counties of Hawaiʻi, Maui, Oʻahu and Kauaʻi in 1905. Interestingly, the County of Oʻahu was changed to the City and County of Honolulu two years later.  

It was the royal congressman who secured the funds for the construction of Pearl Harbor, and despite being against the kingdom’s overthrow, Prince Kūhiō was the first person to sponsor a bill for Hawaiʻi’s statehood in 1919 — 40 years before Hawaiʻi officially became the 50th state.

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