“The Queen’s Retreat” was in the district of Hamohamo (“rub gently,”) it consisted of two homes – one, called Paoakalani (“the royal perfume,”) was her principal home in Waikīkī.
The other was Kealohilani (“the royal brightness,”) located opposite Kūhiō Beach, which she referred to in her memoirs as “my pretty seaside cottage.”
Here, she retreated to relax and informally entertain family, friends and on occasion, visiting royalty. She also spent much of her time composing her songs and translating Hawaiian stories into English.
According to the Queen, the large inviting living room was a place where “all could gather in joy and hospitality.” Her home served as a comforting getaway from the pressures of business at ʻIolani Palace, several miles away.
“Hamohamo is justly considered to be the most life-giving and healthy district in the whole extent of the island of Oʻahu; there is something unexplainable and peculiar in the atmosphere of that place, which seldom fails to bring back the glow of health to the patient, no matter from what disease suffering.”
The Queen “derived much amusement, as well as pleasure: for as the sun shines on the evil and the good, and the rain falls on the just and the unjust, I have not felt called upon to limit the enjoyment of my beach and shade-trees to any party in politics … While in exile it has ever been a pleasant thought to me that my people, in spite of differences of opinions, are enjoying together the free use of my seashore home.”
After the Queen’s death, Kealohilani, as well as the pier and beach fronting the area (including the fisheries,) was transferred to Prince Kūhiō.
The Prince and his wife, Princess Elizabeth Kahanu, temporarily lived in Queen Lili‘uokalani’s Waikīkī cottage, Kealohilani, for about a year.
They razed it and constructed a new home, which they called Pualeilani (“heavenly flower lei” or “flower from wreath of heaven.”)
After Prince Kūhiō died at Pualeilani on Jan. 7, 1922, the property was given to the city; by 1938 the name of the pier, as well as the beach area fronting it, became known as Kūhiō Beach.
The surf break in front of this is still known as Queen’s, because this was facing the Queen’s home.
Kuekaunahi stream used to run through the property; this small stream paralleled Kapahulu Avenue and crossed Waikīkī Beach at the intersection of Kalākaua and Kapahulu Avenue.
The stream was eventually enclosed in a culvert and at the shore its waters were channeled into the ocean through the Kapahulu Groin.
Today, the Waikīkī Beach Marriott Resort now stands on much of what was the Queen’s Retreat.
The image shows Paoakalani in 1880. In addition, I have included other images and maps of this are in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.
Ka‘ahumanu was born about the year 1768, near Hāna, on the eastern shore of Maui. Her father was Keʻeaumoku (a chief of Hawai‘i Island, warrior and loyal follower of Kamehameha I;) her mother was Nāmāhana.
Her siblings include Governor John Adams Kuakini of Hawaiʻi Island, Queen Kalākua Kaheiheimālie (a wife of Kamehameha I) and Governor George Keʻeaumoku II of Maui.
Soon after her birth, the family moved to the island of Hawai‘i; Ka‘ahumanu spent much of her childhood in the Kaʻū district on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi.
At the time, the island was under the reign of Kalani‘ōpu‘u (Kalaniʻōpuʻū was king of the island when Captain Cook arrived in 1778.)
Then, there were turbulent times on the island – contact brought more foreigners to Hawaiʻi and island war was raging (following Kalaniʻōpuʻū’s death in 1782.)
At a very young age, Kaʻahumanu was given by her father to Kamehameha as a wife; by that time, he was ruler of half the island of Hawaiʻi. She was his favorite wife. Through the years, she advised and supported Kamehameha.
Queen Kaʻahumanu became more than Kamehameha’s favorite wife. She was, at one time, arguably, the most powerful figure in the Hawaiian Islands, helping usher in a new era for the Hawaiian kingdom.
When Kamehameha died on May 8, 1819, the crown was passed to his son, Liholiho, who would rule as Kamehameha II. Kaʻahumanu recruited Liholiho’s mother, Keōpūolani, to join her in convincing Liholiho to break the kapu system which had been the rigid code of Hawaiians for centuries.
Liholiho accomplished this simply by eating a meal with women. When the Hawaiians saw that Liholiho was not struck down by angry gods, the entire kapu system was discarded.
Kaʻahumanu created the office of Kuhina Nui (similar to premier, prime minister or regent) and would rule as an equal with Liholiho.
She ruled first with Kamehameha II until his departure for England in 1823 (where he died in 1824) and then as regent for Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III).
Ka‘ahumanu assumed control of the business of government, including authority over land matters, the single most important issue for the Hawaiian nation for many generations to come.
She later married Kauaʻi’s chief, Kaumualiʻi, who Kamehameha I had made a treaty with instead of fightring.
On December 4, 1825, Queen Kaahumanu was baptized and received her new name, Elizabeth, then labored earnestly to lead her people to Christ.
In 1826, she paid the national debt by imposing a tax payable in sandalwood, cash or woven mats. Her administrative actions would have far reaching political, social and cultural consequences for the Hawaiian nation.
In May 1832, Kaʻahumanu fell ill. Recognizing that the end was near, she requested to be taken to her mountain home in Mānoa Valley on Oʻahu.
On June 5, with the Reverend Hiram Bingham at her side, she breathed her final words: “I’m going now…where the mansions are ready.”
She was buried at Pohukaina at ‘Iolani Place and later transferred to Mauna ‘Ala, the Royal Mausoleum in Nu‘uanu Valley.
Kaʻahumanu was such a powerful person and Kuhina Nui that subsequent female Kuhina Nui adopted her name, Kīna‘u (Kaʻahumanu II) (1832-1839,) Kekāuluohi (Kaʻahumanu III) (1839-1845) and Victoria Kamāmalu (Kaʻahumanu IV) (1855-1863.)
The image shows Kaʻahumanu as painted by Choris in 1816. In addition, I have added other images of Ka‘ahumanu in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.
In the centuries prior to 1778, seven large and densely-populated Royal Centers were located along the shoreline between Kailua and Hōnaunau on the Island of Hawai‘i.
The compounds were areas selected by the ali‘i for their residences; ali‘i often moved between several residences throughout the year. The Royal Centers were selected for their abundance of resources and recreation opportunities, with good surfing and canoe-landing sites being favored.
Chiefly residences are known to have changed over time and an ali‘i would expand or modify a residential complex to meet his or her needs and desires. (I included in an associated folder various changes of uses and scale of the site through mapping of the sites, noting the various stage of primary use.)
Traditional histories record the lands at Hōlualoa as a chiefly residence and Royal Center.
Three major occupation sequences have been identified based on the association with various ali’i: AD 1300 (Keolonāhihi), AD 1600 (Keakamahana and Keākealaniwahine) and AD 1780 (Kamehameha I) – it appears very likely that the Hōlualoa Royal Center grew and changed over time.
Hōlualoa offered a wealth of agricultural products from the Kona Field system, offshore marine resources and the surf site off Kamoa Point in Hōlualoa Bay.
The Hōlualoa Royal Center was split into two archaeological complexes, Kamoa Point/Keolonāhihi Complex and Keākealaniwahine Residential Complex.
The Hōlualoa Royal Center contained a total of several heiau structures that were constructed and dedicated for a range of religious functions that are representative of Hawaiian cultural traditions and practices.
The functions of these heiau include surfing (Hale ‘A‘ama), warrior training (Kanekaheilani Heiau), medicine and healing (Hualani Heiau), fertility (Mo‘ipe Heiau) and preparation of ali‘i for burial (Burial Heiau and Haleokekupa).
Oral traditions suggest that the Hōlualoa Royal Center was constructed as early as A.D. 1300 by the Chiefess Keolonāhihi and her husband, Aka.
Keolonāhihi was either the daughter or niece of Pā‘ao. Pā‘ao brought the Kū religion, along with a highly stratified social system, to Hawai‘i from Tahiti, circa AD 1300.
These sites included the women’s features (Keolonāhihi Heiau, Hale Pe‘a and Palama), the sports heiau (Kanekaheilani) and the grandstand at Kamoa Point to view the surfing and canoeing events in Hōlualoa Bay.
Keākealaniwahine’s Residence, the 16-acre mauka parcel with its 28 recorded archaeological sites – this complex contains many religious sites, including three heiau.
Much of the site’s history relates to the occupation of the Royal Center by Chiefess Keakamahana and her daughter, Chiefess Keākealaniwahine, in the 17th Century. These two women were the highest-ranking Ali‘i of their dynastic line and generation – traditional histories suggest they expanded the compound mauka.
The residence of Keakamahana and Keākealaniwahine is believed to be the large walled enclosure on the mauka side of Ali‘i Drive.
Later, Kamehameha lived with his mother Kekuiapoiwa II and his guardians, Keaka and Luluka, at Pu‘u in Hōlualoa during the rule of Kalani‘ōpu’u.
At Hōlualoa, Kamehameha learned to excel in board and canoe surfing (circa 1760s to early 1770s.) “Lyman’s” at Hōlualoa Bay remains a popular surf spot, today.
Later, Kalani‘ōpu’u took Kamehameha to Ka‘u and there is no evidence that Kamehameha maintained a residence at Hōlualoa during his reign.
Kamehameha used the Keolonāhihi complex for religious purposes; after his rise to power, he stored his war god, Kūkaʻilimoku, at Hale O Kaili in the Hōlualoa Royal Center.
While I was at DLNR, we submitted nomination (and received) designation of the Hōlualoa Historic District and expanded the site through the purchase of an adjoining property.
In addition, we were involved in discussions that ultimately led to the BLNR approval of a Curator Agreement for the Keolonāhihi Complex with the Betty Kanuha Foundation.
The Hōlualoa Royal Center was one of the important Points of Interest in the Royal Footsteps Along the Kona Coast Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan that we prepared.
The image shows the general layout of the two complexes (Kekahuna – Bishop Museum – DLNR.) In addition, I have added other images and maps of the Hōlualoa Royal Center in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.