HONOLULU (KHON2) – We all make use of our island roadways, but when was the last time you paid attention to their given names?  

Did you know you could learn more about Hawaiʻi if you did?

Check out more news from around Hawaii

Our weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various streets across the islands so we can dig into those names, and in turn, learn something new.  

This week, we bring attention to a unique position within the Hawaiian Kingdom.

In the ahupuaʻof Kahaluʻu, which lies in the moku of Kona on Hawaiʻi island, stands a roadway that carries the title of a position that once co-ruled the kingdom. 

We’re talking about Kuhinanui Street.

After the passing of King Kamehameha I, stories share that his favorite wife, an intelligent and shrewd chiefess named Kaʻahumanu, proclaimed the king wanted her to share executive power with his young son who became King Kamehameha II.

She then created the office of Kuhina Nui for herself.

This unique position had no equivalent in western governments of the day, but can generally be translated as “prime minister,” holding equal authority to the king including land distribution. 

The position was so powerful that after the death of Kaʻahumanu, her name became the title of her female successors.

Within Hawaiʻi’s first constitution in 1840, the position of Kuhina Nui and its responsibilities was codified.  

But as time went on, legislation established departments within the government whose jurisdiction would overlap and make the position redundant.

By the time King Kamehameha V came to power, most of the office’s responsibilities had been assumed by ministers of the kingdom.

The king eventually created a new constitution that had no provisions for a Kuhina Nui, bringing the office to a close.

In total, there were 6 individuals who served as Kuhina Nui, a position that held great power in the Hawaiian Kingdom for 45 years.

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