Moses Kekūāiwa

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Moses Kekūāiwa
Prince of Hawaii
Kamehameha Tomb at Mauna Ala by Cliff.jpg
The Kamehameha Tomb at Mauna ʻAla, his name is inscribed on the left side of the monument under "Kekuaiwa".
Born (1829-07-20)July 20, 1829
Honolulu, Oʻahu
Died November 24, 1848(1848-11-24) (aged 19)
Honolulu, Oʻahu
Burial December 30, 1848
October 30, 1865
Mauna Ala Royal Mausoleum
Full name
Moses Kekūāiwa
House House of Kamehameha
Father Kekūanāoʻa
Kaikioʻewa (hānai)
Mother Kīnaʻu
Emilia Keaweamahi (hānai)
Signature Moses Kekūāiwa's signature

Moses Kekūāiwa (July 20, 1829 – November 24, 1848) was a member of the royal family of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Early life and family[edit]

Born on July 20, 1829. the date of his birth in Honolulu was noted by American merchant Stephen Reynolds, who called the child "a fine boy".[1][2] He was given the Hawaiian name Kekūāiwa after his maternal aunt Queen Kamāmalu, the favorite wife of Kamehameha II, who was also known as Kamehamalu Kekūāiwaokalani.[3][4][5]

He was the second son of Mataio Kekūanāoʻa and Elizabeth Kīnaʻu. He was a grandson of Kamehameha I through his mother, who was known as Kaʻahumanu II when she was serving as regent and Kuhina Nui.[6][7] His maternal grandmother Kalākua Kaheiheimālie was one of the wives of Kamehameha I who he had wed under the rites of hoao-wohi. Kaheiheimālie was also the younger sister to Queen Kaʻahumanu, the king's favorite wife, who co-ruled as Kuhina Nui with his successors Kamehameha II and Kamehameha III after 1819.[8][9][10]

He had three brothers, David Kamehameha (1828–1835), Lot Kapuāiwa (1830–1872), Alexander Liholiho (1834–1863), and a sister Princess Victoria Kamāmalu (1838–1866). Their Hawaiian contemporaries considered these five siblings to be of divine rank. He had other siblings, an unnamed, elder half-brother, from his mother's previous marriage to Kahalaiʻa Luanuʻu, who died young; and half-sister Ruth Keʻelikōlani (1826–1883), from his father's previous marriage to Pauahi.[11]

Shortly after his birth,[1] the child was adopted according to Hawaiian custom (hānai) by High Chief Kaikioʻewa, the then incumbent Governor of Kauai and former guardian of King Kamehameha III. It was expected from an early age that he would succeed his adoptive father and become the Governor of Kauai.[2][12][13]


He was ten years old when his uncle, King Kamehameha III, placed him in the Chiefs' Children's School, the exclusive school for the children eligible to be rulers. Along with his other classmates, he was chosen by Kamehameha III to be eligible for the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii.[14][15] The boarding school was taught by the American missionary couple Amos Starr Cooke and Juliette Montague Cooke while John Papa ʻĪʻī and his wife Sarai Hiwauli, who were only originally the kahu (caretaker) of Princess Victoria Kamāmalu, were appointed by the King as kahu to the royal children.[16][17]

His hānai father died in April 10, 1839, and Moses went to Kauai to assume the governorship of the island. In his lifetime, he was referred to him as the "prospective Governor of Kauai"; the nominal governess during the time Keaweamahi and later his cousin Kekauʻōnohi were merely placeholders for the position until Moses came of age.[18][2]

On one occasion when Mr. Cooke was disciplining the students, he struck Alexander on the head and Moses replied, "he keiki a ke ali'i oia nei." Translated as "He is the son of the chief." Cooke replied "I am the King of this school."[19][20] A troublesome student, he was expelled on February 1847 after he was caught visiting Queen Kalama at night.[21][22]

On February 1, 1847, King Kamehameha III and the Privy Council made Moses sign a document expelling him from the school and relinquishing control of his property until he reached majority. ʻĪʻī was appointed his kahu and William Richards was appointed his guardian.[23]

According to Albert Pierce Taylor, Kekūāiwa assembled a company of young Hawaiian men and drilled them in military combat in the Koʻolau distrct of Oahu. The explanation was that he planned to lead a voyage of conquest to Tahiti and the Society Islands while it was suspected that he planned on seizing the Hawaiian throne by force.[24]

Betrothal to Tahitian princess[edit]

Princess Ninito Teraʻiapo Sumner

Kekūāiwa, as the eldest male of his generation and a lineal descendant of Kamehameha I, was expected to marry a high chiefess of rank to continue the royal line. He was originally betrothed to his fellow classmate Jane Loeau, the eldest female student at the Royal School and the daughter of Governess Kuini Liliha. The Cookes encouraged her to marry American lawyer John Jasper instead of Moses.[25] By 1848, he was engaged to the Tahitian Princess Ninito Teraʻiapo (d. 1898) in one of a series of historical attempts of marriage alliance between the royals of Hawaii and Tahiti. A niece of Tute Tehuiari'i the private chaplain of Kamehameha III, and cousin of Manaiula Tehuiarii, Ninito was also a female relative of the Tahitian Queen Pōmare IV, and the sister of High Chiefess Ariitaimai, the mother of Queen Marau, wife of Pōmare V, the last King of Tahiti.[26] She set sail for Hawaii, but arrived in Honolulu to the news of his death.[27][28][29]

Death and legacy[edit]

He died November 24, 1848 at Honolulu in a measles epidemic. He was 19-years old, unmarried, and without any children.[30] His funeral service was held on December 30, 1848, alongside the service for Kaʻiminaʻauao, the hānai daughter of Queen Kalama and younger sister of his classmates Kalākaua and Liliuokalani, and the service for William Pitt Leleiohoku, the late husband of his half-sister and father of his classmate John William Pitt Kīnaʻu.[31][32] Originally buried in the Old Mausoleum on the grounds, where the current ʻIolani Palace stands, his remains were transported along with those of his father's and other royals in a midnight torchlight procession on October 30, 1865, to the newly constructed Mauna ʻAla Royal Mausoleum up in the Nuʻuanu Valley.[33][34][35]

On March 17, 1912, the Cooke Memorial Tablet was dedicated at Kawaiahaʻo Church commemorating the sixteen royal children of the original Royal School and their teachers on the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Juliette Montague Cooke. The ceremony was officiated by Liliʻuokalani and Elizabeth Kekaʻaniau, the last surviving members of the Royal School. His name was placed first among the sixteen students.[36]

In her book Unfamiliar Fishes, Sarah Vowell recounted her meeting with Cooke descendant Laurel Douglass, who was reading Kekūāiwa's personal diary entries in the Mission House Museum archives. The two discuss the abuse in the Royal School and the Kekūāiwa's relation with Amos Starre Cooke. [37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Reynolds 1989, p. 271.
  2. ^ a b c Dibble 1843, p. 330.
  3. ^ Van Dyke 2008, p. 325.
  4. ^ Kameʻeleihiwa 1992, p. 125.
  5. ^ Kamakau 1992, p. 346.
  6. ^ Fornander 1880, p. 223-224.
  7. ^ Cooke & Cooke 1937, p. vi; Wyllie 1845, p. 130; "The following is a list of the young chiefs at present in the school of Mr. and Mrs. Cooke". The Friend. II (VIII). Honolulu. August 1, 1844. p. 36. Archived from the original on July 16, 2018. Retrieved July 16, 2018. 
  8. ^ Kuykendall 1965, pp. 39, 64.
  9. ^ Pratt 1920, pp. 30, 34.
  10. ^ Kapiikauinamoku (June 19, 1955). "The Story of Maui Royalty: Kamehameha, Kalakua Wed in Hoao-Wohi Rites". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  11. ^ Dibble 1843, p. 330; Kamakau 1992, p. 347; Pratt 1920, p. 31; Judd 1999, pp. 53, 208–209
  12. ^ Kamakau 1992, p. 348.
  13. ^ Kameʻeleihiwa 1992, p. 100.
  14. ^ "Princes and Chiefs eligible to be Rulers". The Polynesian. 1 (9). Honolulu. July 20, 1844. p. 1. 
  15. ^ Van Dyke 2008, p. 364.
  16. ^ Kanahele 1999, pp. 15, 27–28.
  17. ^ Haley 2014, pp. 94–106.
  18. ^ Jarves 1843, p. 374.
  19. ^ Cooke & Cooke 1937, p. 34.
  20. ^ Kanahele 1999, pp. 29-30.
  21. ^ Kaomea 2014, pp. 133–134.
  22. ^ Kameʻeleihiwa 1992, p. 249.
  23. ^ Cooke & Cooke 1937, pp. 279–280.
  24. ^ Taylor 1922, pp. 243–244.
  25. ^ Kaomea 2014, p. 135.
  26. ^ Henry & Orsmond 1928, p. 270.
  27. ^ Barrere 1989, p. 105.
  28. ^ Deering 1899, pp. 104-105.
  29. ^ Taylor 1929, pp. 433–440.
  30. ^ Liliuokalani 1898, pp. 6-8.
  31. ^ Forbes 2000, pp. 529-530.
  32. ^ Kam 2017, pp. 51–53.
  33. ^ Alexander 1894, p. 161.
  34. ^ Judd 1975, p. 157.
  35. ^ "Royal Mausoleum". The Hawaiian Gazette. March 10, 1899. Retrieved June 28, 2010. 
  36. ^ "Memorial of Founders of Royal School". The Hawaiian Star. XIX (6228). Honolulu. March 16, 1912. p. 9. Retrieved August 5, 2015. 
  37. ^ Vowell 2011, p. XXX.


  • Barrere, Dorothy (1989). "Tahitian in the History of Hawaiʻi: the Journal of Kahikona". The Hawaiian Journal of History. Honolulu: Hawaiian Historical Society. 23: 75–107. hdl:10524/426. OCLC 60626541. 
  • Taylor, A. P. (1929). Ford, Alexander Hume, ed. "Niniko, 'Garden of Rest'". The Mid-Pacific Magazine. T. H., A. H. Ford; Pan-Pacific Union, Pan-Pacific Research Institution. 37 (5): 433–440. 

Further reading[edit]