Prince Lunalilo was born on January 31, 1835 to High Chiefess Miriam ‘Auhea Kekauluohi (Kuhina Nui, or Premier of the Hawaiian Kingdom and niece of Kamehameha I) and High Chief Charles Kanaʻina.
Lunalilo’s grandparents were Kalaʻimamahu (half brother of Kamehameha I) and Kalākua (sister to Kaʻahumanu). His great grandfather was Keōuakupupailaninui (Keōua, father of Kamehameha I.)
Lunalilo was educated at the Chiefs’ Children’s School, and at age four, became one of its first students. He was known as a scholar, a poet and a student with amazing memory for detail.
From a very young age, he loved to write with favorite subjects in school being literature and music. He composed Hawai’i’s first national anthem, E Ola Ke Ali`i Akua, or God Save the King.
He also developed a sense of justice and love for people. These traits were recognized by the age of six in the unselfish and caring manner in which he interacted with his servants.
As a young man, he was courteous and intelligent, generous and friendly. His close friends affectionately called him “Prince Bill”. His native people called him ”Lokomaikaʻi”, meaning “generous or benevolent”.
When Lunalilo died in 1874, while he was king, he was the first of the large landholding aliʻi to create a charitable trust for the benefit of his people.
His estate included large landholdings on the five major islands, consisting of 33-ahupuaʻa, nine ʻili and more than a dozen home lots. His will, written in 1871, established a perpetual trust under the administration of three trustees to be appointed by the justices of the Hawaiian Supreme Court.
The purpose of the trust was to build a home to accommodate the poor, destitute and infirm people of Hawaiian (aboriginal) blood or extraction, with preference given to older people. The will charged the Trustees to sell all of the estate’s land to build and maintain the home.
His will states “all of the real estate of which I may die seized and possessed to three persons … to be held by them in trust for the following purposes, to wit …”
“… to sell and dispose of the said real estate to the best advantage at public or private sale and to invest the proceeds in some secure manner until the aggregate sum shall amount to $25,000, or until the sum realized by the said trustees shall with donations or contributions from other sources, amount to the said sum of $25,000.” (District Court Records)
“The will leaves the testator’s real estate to his Trustees in trust to sell the same at public or private sale and invest the same till the amount realized from such sale or by additions from other sources shall be $25,000 …”
“… and then directs that they shall expend the whole amount in the purchase of land and in the erection of a building or buildings on the Island of Oahu for specified eleemosynary purposes.” (Supreme Court Records)
His will notes, “Then I order the trustees to exceed the whole amount in the purchase of land and in the erection of a building or buildings on the Island of Oʻahu, of iron, stone, brick or other fireproof material, for the use and accommodation of poor, destitute and infirm people of Hawaiian blood or extraction, giving preference to old people.” (District Court Records)
According to the instructions in the will, the Estate trustees sold the land, built Lunalilo Home and invested the remaining proceeds in mortgages, securities and government bonds.
Unfortunately, those investments went sour, and today the Lunalilo estate has limited assets, other than Lunalilo Home in Hawaiʻi Kai and the land under it, and the trust must constantly raise funds to maintain the operation of the home. (Byrd)
Reportedly, Lunalilo left an estate even larger than the one left by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, founder of Kamehameha Schools. However, the outcome of her estate has had a different ending.
High Chief Abner Pākī and his wife High Chiefess Laura Kōnia (Kamehameha III’s niece) had one child, a daughter, Bernice Pauahi Pākī (born December 19, 1831.)
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 (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.))
Pauahi died childless on October 16, 1884. Her will formed and funded the Kamehameha Schools; “I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate real and personal … 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.”
Bernice Pauahi Bishop’s will (Clause 13) states her desire that her trustees “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”.
That same Clause gives the “trustees full power to make all such rules and regulations as they may deem necessary for the government of said schools and to regulate the admission of pupils, and the same to alter, amend and publish upon a vote of a majority of said trustees.”
She directed “that the teachers of said schools shall forever be persons of the Protestant religion, but I do not intend that the choice should be restricted to persons of any particular sect of Protestants.”
However, in order to support her vision, her will did not require her trustees to sell the land; rather, they can only sell “for the best interest” of the estate. Clause Seventeen notes, “I give unto the trustees … the most ample power to sell and dispose of any lands or other portion of my estate, and to exchange lands and otherwise dispose of the same … “
“I further direct that my said trustees shall not sell any real estate, cattle ranches, or other property, but to continue and manage the same, unless in their opinion a sale may be necessary for the establishment or maintenance of said schools, or for the best interest of my estate.”
Today, the Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate has net assets of nearly $7-billion and annual operating revenue of $1.34-billion.
“Had Lunalilo directed its trustees, as Princess Pauahi Bishop did, to retain the land and sell it only as necessary to run the home for the aged, the Lunalilo Trust today would rival the Bishop Estate in its net asset value, and it would be able to assist many more than the approximately fifty elderly Hawaiians who now live in Lunalilo Home.” (Takabuki)
“Princess Pauahi was wise when she directed her trustees to retain the “ʻĀina,” her primary endowment, and sell it only when necessary for the Kamehameha Schools or the best interest of the trust. Real estate has been, and will continue to be, a sound, prudent, long-term investment.” (Takabuki)
This summary is intended to address one key differing statement in the respective wills. While each called for trustees selected by the Supreme Court (thereby not knowing who would eventually carry out its instruction,) Lunalilo instructed his trustees to sell his land; on the other hand, Pauahi gave her trustees that right, but only in the “best interest” of the trust.