HONOLULU (KHON2) — KHON2’s weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various roadways across the pae ʻāina so the meaning of their names can be uncovered.
It is time to bring attention to the favorite wife of the man who established the Hawaiian Kingdom.
From the moku of Kohala down the Kona coast of Hawaiʻi Island is a highway named after one of Hawaiʻi’s most powerful women.
That highway is Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway.
Kaʻahumanu was born to chiefly parents in Hāna, Maui.
Her father was the high chief Keʻeaumoku, a friend and advisor to King Kamehameha I during his campaign to conquer the islands.
While Kamehameha was the ruling chief of Hawaiʻi Island, Kaʻahumanu became one of his wives and was considered his favorite.
As the only female member of Kamehameha’s council of chiefs, Kaʻahumanu was considered a cornerstone of his government.
She established the role known as Kuhina Nui as a foster mother to King Kamehameha II.
This position served similar to a “prime minister” or “regent,” sharing executive power with the king.
Her influence led the king to the eventually break the ancient Hawaiian religious system.
She allowed the first American missionaries to land in the islands in 1820.
Within the next five years, Kaʻahumanu would become one of Hawaiʻi’s first Christian converts, baptized at Kawaiahaʻo Church.
It was then when she took on the English name “Elizabeth,” leading many Hawaiians to follow in her footsteps.
Did you know? Now you do!