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Born on the island of Kauai around January 1804 (or 1809), he was of lowly chiefly descent, who began public service as a tobacco lighter of King Kaumualiʻi of Kauaʻi and later King Kamehameha II. He accompanied Kamehameha II to Oahu in 1822, serving as his personal attendant. He returned to Kauai after Kamehameha II's departure to Great Britain and assisted the newly appointed Governor Kahalaia Luanuu in suppressing Humehume's rebellion on the island. After Kamehameha II's death in London, he returned to Oahu during the reign of Kamehameha III and served in the House of Nobles 1845–1859 and on the Privy Council 1852–1855.
The duty of separating the King's land from that of the chiefs' during the Great Mahele was assumed by Piʻikoi. Piʻikoi Street in Honolulu is named after either him or his son. He probably adopted the name Jonah when he converted to Christianity, using the Hawaiian spelling Ionah. His grandson Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole took his Christian name.
He once owned a large section of the land between Waikiki and Honolulu called the Kewalo area on the island of Oahu. He built the first two-story wooden house in that area near the present McKinley High School.
His first wife was Kamakeʻe and they had two daughters named Lilia or Lydia Piʻikoi and Maria Piʻikoi Cummins. Maria was married to Thomas Jefferson Cummins and had three daughters. He married later to the High Chiefess Kekahili, daughter of Kamokuiki, and half-sister of High Chief Caesar Kapaakea. This marriage made him brother-in-law to Kapaakea who was the father of David Kalākaua. He had only one son from his marriage to Kekahili, the High Chief David Kahalepouli Piʻikoi. Piʻikoi died at Honolulu, Oahu, April 20, 1859, in his 50s. Before his death, he wrote an autobiography Sketch of J. Piikoi's Life which was published by the Pacific Commercial Advertiser in May 12, 1859. Piikoi funeral was dated to May 16, although it isn't stated where he was interred. 
- "Piikoi, Jonah office record". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Retrieved 2009-11-24.
- Forbes 2001, p. 249.
- Pocket Place Names of Hawai'i By Mary Kawena Pukui, Samuel H. Elbert. Page 58
- Christopher Buyers. "Kauai Genealogy". Royal Ark web site. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- Jonah Piikoi (May 11, 1859). "Sketch of J. Piikoi's Life". Pacific Commercial Advertiser. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
- Forbes, David W., ed. (2001). Hawaiian national bibliography, 1780-1900 3. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-2503-9.
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