Born on March 26, 1871, Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole Piʻikoi (grandson of Kaua‘i King Kaumuali‘i and the cousin of King Kalākaua and Queen Lili‘uokalani) was prince of the reigning House of Kalākaua.
After the rule of the House of Kamehameha ended with the death of King Kamehameha V in 1872, and King Liholiho died in 1874, the House of Kalākaua ascended to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.
He became an orphan after his father died in 1880 and mother in 1884. Prince Kūhiō was adopted by King David Kalākaua’s wife, Queen Kapi‘olani, who was his maternal aunt.
He attended the Royal School and Punahou; studied four years in St. Matthew’s College, California; was a student at the Royal Agricultural College in England and graduated from a business college in England.
Historical accounts say that Kūhiō was tagged with the nickname “Prince Cupid” by a French teacher when he was very young because of his chubby stature and good-natured personality.
He witnessed the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, took the side of the monarchy, was found guilty of treason for plotting a counter-revolutionary attempt and made a political prisoner.
Prince Kūhiō, eligible royal heir to the Hawaiian throne, Delegate to Congress for ten consecutive terms and tireless worker for native Hawaiian rights, was born along the Poʻipū coast at Kukui‘ula and grew up in Kōloa on Kaua‘i.
Kūhiō was often called Ke Ali‘i Maka‘āinana (Prince of the People) and is well known for his efforts to preserve and strengthen the Hawaiian people.
In politics, he was a Republican. He launched a campaign to establish local government at the County level; this led to the County Act in 1905. Under the Act, the islands were divided into five separate Counties.
Prince Kūhiō restored the Royal Order of Kamehameha I and established the Hawaiian Civic Club.
The Order of Kamehameha I was established on April 11, 1865 by King Kamehameha V (Lot Kapuāiwa) to honor the legacy of his grandfather, the unifier of these islands, Kamehameha the Great.
The Order was reorganized by Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaole in 1902. Today, the organization continues to guard, maintain and preserve the rituals and the memory of the ruling Chiefs of Hawai‘i.
Hawaiian Civic Clubs were organized in 1918 and were formed to provide scholarship aid for the education of Hawaiian students; preserve and promote the Hawaiian heritage, traditions, language and culture; improve the conditions of the Hawaiian people and community at large; and perpetuate the values that dignify all human life.
In 1919 he also introduced the first bill asking that Hawai‘i become a state.
While a delegate of Congress, he spearheaded the effort in the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act that provides lands for native Hawaiians.
He was concerned about the diminishing number of Hawaiians and their seeming inability to adapt to urban living. It was his dream to have Hawaiians return to the land and encourage them to be self-sufficient farmers, ranchers and homesteaders.
Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole Piʻikoi died on January 7, 1922 of heart disease. He was given the last state funeral for an Ali‘i; he is buried at Mauna ‘Ala, the Royal Mausoleum.
Prince Kūhiō Day is an official holiday in the State of Hawaiʻi. It is celebrated annually on March 26, to mark the birth of Prince Kūhiō.