Pauahi Pākī was born on December 19, 1831 in Honolulu, Hawai‘i to high chiefs Abner Pākī and Laura Kōnia Pākī. She was the great-granddaughter of Kamehameha I. (KSBE)
Pauahi was hānai (adopted) to her aunt, Kīnaʻu (the eldest daughter of Kamehameha, who later served as Kuhina Nui as Kaʻahumanu II, a position similar to a Prime Minister.) Pauahi lived with Kīnaʻu for nearly eight years, then Kīnaʻu died suddenly of mumps (April 4, 1839.)
High Chief Caesar Kapaʻakea and his wife High Chiefess Analeʻa Keohokālole had three children, a daughter was Lydia Liliʻu Kamakaʻeha (born September 2, 1838.)
Liliʻu was hānai (adopted) to the Pākīs, who reared her with their birth daughter, Pauahi. The two girls developed a close, loving relationship.
“…their only daughter, Bernice Pauahi … was therefore my foster-sister. … I knew no other father or mother than my foster-parents, no other sister than Bernice.” (Lili‘uokalani)
They lived on the property called Haleʻākala, in a two-story coral house that Pākī built on King Street. It was the ‘Pink House,’ (the house was name ʻAikupika (Egypt.)) It later became the Arlington Hotel.
The girls attended the Chief’s Children’s School, a boarding school, and were known for their studious demeanor. Founded in 1839 during the reign of King Kamehameha III, the original Chief’s Children’s School was on what is now the capitol grounds.
Mr. and Mrs. Amos Cooke, missionaries from New England, were commissioned to teach the 16 royal children (others who joined the Pākī sisters were Alexander Liholiho (later Kamehameha IV,) Lot Kapuāiwa (later Kamehameha V,) Queen Emma, King William Lunalilo and Liliʻu’s brother, David (later King Kalākaua.) In 1846 the school’s name was officially changed to Royal School; it was opened to the general public in 1851.
In 1850, at the age of 19, Pauahi married Charles Reed Bishop, a young American businessman who had made his way to the Kingdom of Hawai‘i from Glens Falls, New York.
Charles became a pillar in the kingdom government and was a successful businessman, banker and philanthropist. He and Pauahi enjoyed traveling the world with particular fondness for museums and art. With no children of their own, they shared a deep commitment for the well-being and education of kamali‘i — young ones. (KSBE)
When her cousin, Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani, died, Keʻelikōlani’s will stated that she “give and bequeath forever to my beloved younger sister (cousin), Bernice Pauahi Bishop, all of my property, the real property and personal property from Hawaiʻi to Kauaʻi, all of said property to be hers.”
The total land bequest included about 353,000 acres. Keʻelikōlani had previously inherited all of the substantial landholdings of the Kamehameha dynasty from her brother, Lot Kapuāiwa (King Kamehameha V.)
Bernice Pauahi died childless on October 16, 1884. She foresaw the need to educate her people and in her will she left her large estate of the Kamehameha lands in a trust “to erect and maintain in the Hawaiian Islands two schools, each for boarding and day scholars, one for boys and one for girls, to be known as, and called the Kamehameha Schools.”
She further stated, “I desire my trustees to provide first and chiefly a good education in the common English branches, and also instruction in morals and in such useful knowledge as may tend to make good and industrious men and women”.
Bernice Pauahi Bishop, by founding the Kamehameha Schools, intended to establish institutions which should be of lasting benefit to her country; and also to honor the name Kamehameha.
After Pauahi’s death, Charles as president of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate’s board of trustees, ensured that his wife’s wish was fulfilled. He generously provided his own funds for the construction of facilities and added some of his own properties to her estate.
Until his death in 1915, he continued to guide her trustees in directions that reinforced her vision of a perpetual educational institution that would build a vibrant future for her people. (KSBE)
Today, December 19, is Pauahi’s birthday; it is also known as Founder’s Day at Kamehameha Schools.