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Queen of Kauaʻi
Feather cape
The ʻahuʻula (feather cape) of Kamakahelei, Bishop Museum

Kamakahelei (c. 18th century - 1794), was alii nui, or Queen regnant, of the island of Kauaʻi. She was the ruling chiefess of Kauaʻi reigning from 1770 - 1794. In some historical references she has been described as a regent for her sons Keawe and Kaumualii. She was the sovereign of the Island of Kauai at the time Captain James Cook landed on its shores. The Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School in the district of Puhi is named after her. This school serves the Kalaheo to Hanamaulu districts on the island of Kauai.


Kamakahelei was the only daughter of High Chief Kaumeheiwa, the son of High Chief Lonoikahaupu and High Chiefess Kamuokaumeheiwa, and his wife, High Chief Kaʻapuwai, possibly the daughter of Peleioholani, Alii nui of Oahu and Alii nui of Kauai. According to tradition, her grandfather Lonoikahaupu was five generations in descent from the 13th Alii Aimoku of Kauai, Kalanikukuma. His family had traditionally ruled in Waimea and the south-western section of the island, although always in subordination to the elder line of Kauaian chiefs. It is unclear why Kamakahelei succeeded Peleioholani as the Aliʻi of Kauaʻi. It is not certain that she was his granddaughter or a close relative. The legends remain silent between the transaction of rule between the two dynasties.

She first married Kaneoneo, Peleʻioholani's grandson and the pretender to the throne of Oʻahu of the Kualii line. He had rights to the succession to Kauaʻi, but it is not known if he contended with his wife over the rule of the island. Kaneoneo's father, Kūmahana, was deposed by the ʻEwa chiefs, who replaced him with Kahahana. The latter was the last king of Oahu.

She and her first husband had two daughters: Lelemahoalani and Kapuaʻamohu. Kaneoneo died during the rebellion on Oʻahu against Mauian King Kahekili II in the year 1785 or 86.[1]:297–298

Kamakahelei next married Kaeokulani, a prince of Maui and brother of Kahekili II. They had a son Kaumualii. Together they united rule of the island of Niihau, her husband's domain, and the Island of Kauai.[2]


After Kamakahelei's death in 1794, her husband Kaeokulani may have briefly taken regency over his son as he did his nephew Kalanikūpule's inheritance of Maui. Kaeokulani died the same year, killed at the Battle of Kukiiahu, at Kalauao, Oahu on December 12, 1794. Her son continued to ruled the kingdom of Kauaʻi independently until he consented to becoming a vassal of Kamehameha the Great.[2]


  1. ^ Abraham Fornander (1880). John F. G. Stokes (ed.). An Account of the Polynesian Race: Its Origins and Migrations, and the Ancient History of the Hawaiian People to the Times of Kamehameha I. 2. Trübner & Co. pp. 140–142, 211–212, 225.
  2. ^ a b Christopher Buyers. "Kauai Genealogy". Retrieved 2009-11-08.
Preceded by
Aliʻi Aimoku of Kauaʻi
1770 - 1794
Succeeded by