Kamā‘ule‘ule was the son of Kekuamanoha, a chief of Maui, and was a younger brother of Kalanimōku (but it was rumored that he was the son of Kahekili.) His nickname, ‘Boki’ or ‘Poki,’ came from a variation on ‘Boss’ (it was also the name of a supernatural dog.)
Boki was appointed governor of O‘ahu and confirmed in his post by Kamehameha II. He married Liliha. Boki agreed to the breaking of the tabus in 1819 and accepted the Protestant missionaries arriving in 1820, although he had been baptized as a Catholic aboard the French vessel of Louis de Freycinet, along with Kalanimoku, the previous year.
High Chief Boki and his wife High Chiefess Liliha were among the ali‘i who accompanied King Kamehameha II and Queen Kamamalu to England in 1824.
Due to the sudden death of Kamehameha II from the measles, it was Boki who lead the Hawaiian delegation to meet with King George IV and receive the King’s assurances of British protection for Hawai‘i from foreign intrusion. (KSBE) Boki brought back an English gardener, John Wilkinson.
Wilkinson, a British agriculturist, obtained coffee seedlings from Brazil. These plants were brought to Oʻahu in 1825 board the HMS Blonde (the ship also brought back the bodies of Liholiho and Kamāmalu who had died in England) and planted on Boki’s property in Mānoa.
In 1828, American missionary Samuel Ruggles took cuttings from Hilo, the same stock as in Mānoa, and brought them to Kona. Henry Nicholas Greenwell grew and marketed coffee and is recognized for putting “Kona Coffee” on the world markets.
Boki also grew sugarcane on his Mānoa property, as well as operated a sizable sugar cane distillery, making rum.
The chiefs placed a kapu upon prostitution and “to suppress vice, such as drunkenness, debauchery, theft and the violation of the Sabbath” (Kuykendall) which had sprung up in the ports of Honolulu and Lahaina.
The rage of the sailors (supported in some cases by their officers, and having the countenance of at least one United States naval officer) was directed not so much against the native authorities as it was against the missionaries.
Riots and armed demonstrations occurred several times during the years 1825, 1826 and 1827. The development of a system or code of laws was hampered by a division of the chiefs into two factions which ran to extremes in opposite directions.
The larger and more powerful group favored and at times enforced a strict puritanical regime; the other favored a liberal regime which in this unstable community had an incorrigible tendency to run into license and disorder. Others favored a more relaxed approach. (Kuykendall)
Boki became resentful of the power of Ka‘ahumanu and her missionary advisors, and not surprisingly, allied himself with foreigners like Richard Charlton and John Percival, Captain of the first visiting American warship. Boki was also a protector of the French missionaries that began arriving in 1827.
Ka‘ahumanu and the council in May, 1827, charged Boki and Liliha with misconduct, intemperance, fornication and adultery, and had them fined. In return, Boki and Liliha objected to the laws passed at the end of the year and made no effort to enforce them. (Kelley)
“The foreigners, finding Boki friendly and obliging, proposed a more profitable way of making money, and both Boki and Manuia erected buildings for the sale of liquor, Boki’s called Polelewa and Manuia’s Hau‘eka.” Boki’s place was also called the Blonde Hotel. (Kamakau)
Boki stocked his bar with cheap, bad wine – a mixture of several kinds – from China, saying it was good enough for the sailors. But his usual ill luck or bad judgment dogged the enterprise. Hiram Bingham’s remark summed it up: “However lucrative Boki’s store and hotel might have been to his English clerks, they were probably losing concerns to himself.” (Greer)
“Since Liholiho’s sailing to England, lawlessness had been prohibited, but with these saloons and others opened by the foreigners doing business, the old vices appeared and in a form worse than ever.” (Kamakau)
At times the peace of the country was threatened by this division, as when Governor Boki of Oahu in 1829 seemed on the point of attempting to overthrow Ka‘ahumanu. (Kuykendall)
Boki incurred large debts and, in 1829, attempted to cover them by assembling a group of followers and set out for a newly discovered island with sandalwood in the New Hebrides. Boki fitted out two ships, the Kamehameha and the Becket, put on board some five hundred of his followers, and sailed south.
Just prior to Boki’s sailing in search of sandalwood, the lands of Kapunahou and Kukuluaeʻo were transferred to Hiram Bingham for the purpose of establishing a school, later to be known as Oʻahu College (now, Punahou School.)
These lands had first been given to Kameʻeiamoku, a faithful chief serving under Kamehameha, following Kamehameha’s conquest of Oʻahu in 1795. At Kameʻeiamoku’s death in 1802, the land transferred to his son Hoapili, who resided there from 1804 to 1811. Hoapili passed the property to his daughter Kuini Liliha (Boki’s wife.)
Sworn testimony before the Land Commission in 1849, and that body’s ultimate decision, noted that the “land was given by Governor Boki about the year 1829 to Hiram Bingham for the use of the Sandwich Islands Mission.”
The decision was made over the objection from Liliha; however, Hoapili confirmed the gift. It was considered to be a gift from Kaʻahumanu, Kuhina Nui or Queen Regent at that time.
Boki and two hundred and fifty of his men apparently died at sea.