Mataio Kekūanāoʻa (1793–1868) and Kīnaʻu (1805-1839) each served as Kuhina Nui, a position generally described as “Prime Minister,” “Premier” and “Regent.” They were each born of chiefs; in Kīnaʻu’s case, she was the daughter of Kamehameha I.
They were also husband and wife.
They had five children: four boys, David Kamehameha (1828–1835), Moses Kekūāiwa (1829-1848,) Lot Kapuāiwa (1830–1872,) Alexander Liholiho (1834–1863,) and a girl, Victoria Kamāmalu (1838–1866.)
Consistent with custom, each of the sons were hānai (adopted) to other families – David by Kaʻahumanu, Moses by Kaikioʻewa, Lot (later Kamehameha V) by Nahiʻenaʻena, and Alexander (later Kamehameha IV) by Kauikeaouli. (Luomala)
When Kīna‘u’s last child, Victoria Kamāmalu, was born she refused her maternal uncle Kuakini’s request to take the child to the island of Hawaii to rear. Defying custom, she herself nursed her and her adopted daughter Pauahi (but made John Papa ʻĪ‘ī and his wife Sarai her child’s kahu.) (Luomala)
Moses Kekūāiwa was born July 20, 1829. His hānai father, Kaikioʻewa, was a trusted and loyal advisor and warrior to Moses’ grandfather, Kamehameha I. When Kamehameha died, Kaikioʻewa was one of the few there with him.
“After lying there three days, his wives, children and chiefs, perceiving that he was very low, returned him to his own house. … The chiefs requested him to give them his counsel … Then Kaikioʻewa addressed him thus: ‘Here we all are, your younger brethren, your son Liholiho and your foreigner; impart to us your dying charge, that Liholiho and Kaʻahumanu may hear.’”
“Then Kamehameha inquired, ‘What do you say?’ Kaikioʻewa repeated, ‘Your counsels for us.’ He then said, ‘Move on in my good way and–.’ He could proceed no further. … The sick king was once more taken to his house, when he expired; this was at two o’clock.” (Jarves) (Kaikioʻewa later became governor of Kauai. Moses Kekūāiwa was also known as Moses Kaikioʻewa.)
As a child, Prince Moses Kekūāiwa, apparently “developed a violent and uncontrollable nature. … (while) embarking for Kauai early in 1839 in company with Mr. and Mrs. Amos Cooke and the old governor of Kauai, Kaikioʻewa, who was the official Kahu, or guardian of little Prince Moses. The youngster had made up his mind to go with his guardian.”
“He came down to Robinsons’ wharf where we were about to set sail, and laid hold of the side of the brig, yelling and howling. His guardian all the time continued to dissuade and expostulate. No one dared to use force upon the furious child. This continued for more than two hours, until nearly night. Finally his father, the governor Kekūanāoʻa, sent down a file of soldiers with orders to arrest and convey the little prince home to the palace near by.” (Sereno Edwards Bishop)
Moses Kekūāiwa was educated at Chiefs’ Children’s School (Royal School.) Founded in 1839, the original school was located on the grounds of the present Hawaiʻi State Capitol. The school was created by King Kamehameha III; the main goal of this school was to groom the next generation of the highest ranking chief’s children of the realm and secure their positions for Hawaii’s Kingdom.
Seven families were eligible under succession laws stated in the 1840 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i; Kamehameha III called on seven boys and seven girls of his family to board in the Chief’s Children’s School (two more students were added in 1842.)
Amos Starr Cooke (1810–1871) and Juliette Montague Cooke (1812-1896), missionaries from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, were selected by the king to teach the 16 royal children and run the school.
In this school were educated the Hawai‘i sovereigns who reigned over the Hawaiian people from 1855: Alexander Liholiho (King Kamehameha IV,) Queen Emma, Lot Kamehameha (King Kamehameha V,) King William Lunalilo, King David Kalākaua and Queen Lydia Lili‘uokalani.
In addition, the following royal family members were taught there: Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, Princess Elizabeth Kekaʻaniau Pratt, Prince Moses Kekūāiwa, Princess Jane Loeau Jasper, Princess Victoria Kamāmalu, Prince Peter Young Kaeo, Prince William Pitt Kīnaʻu, Princess Abigail Maheha, Prince James Kaliokalani and Princess Mary Polly Paʻaʻāina.
At times, all was not smooth at the school. Cooke writes in his diary, “Yesterday I became a little more stern with my scholars, & had to strike Moses to make him mind. To day I struck Alexander on his head & Moses replied “he keiki a ke alii oia nei” (He is the son of the chief.) I replied I was king of the school.”
However, Cooke also notes, “Moses received quite a number of letters from Kauai, in which they call him their chief.” (Cooke Diary, August 26, 1840)
Some people say that the Kamehamehas won the kingdom through successful warfare. Kamehameha made the daughters of his war counselors, who gave him the kingdom, his wives; and their descendants thus became heirs to the kingdom for which Kamehameha had striven. … Kekūāiwa was considered in the succession of ruler. (Kamakau)
“Moses Kaikioʻewa … (was) by far (one of) the most important young chiefs of the country. (He was heir) to existing chiefs’ rights in very large and numerous estates or lands.” (McCully, Supreme Court Decision, Hawaiian Gazette, January 22, 1889)
At the Māhele, among other properties, the ahupua‘a of Kapālama was awarded to Moses Kekūāiwa. The land passed down in turn to his sister Victoria Kamāmalu, to her brother Lot Kamehameha, to his half-sister Ruth Keʻelikōlani, and then to her first cousin, Bernice Pauahi Bishop. The will of Mrs. Bishop established a trust founding Kamehameha Schools. (Cultural Surveys)
Moses Kekūāiwa, the eldest male of his generation and a lineal descendant of Kamehameha I, was expected to marry a high chiefess of rank to continue the royal line.
He was engaged to the Tahitian Princess Ninito Teraʻiapo. “Ninito was a member of the royal family of Tahiti. She came here … betrothed to Prince Moses…” (Hawaiian Gazette, July 22, 1898)
However, she arrived too late to be wed Moses. In September, 1848, someone infected with measles on an American warship arrived. It spread and killed about a third of the population.
A notice in the newspaper noted the sad news, “DIED – In this town, on Friday, the 24th, inst., Moses Kaikioʻewa, son of Kekūanāoʻa and Kīnaʻu, aged 19 years and 6 months. The deceased was the expectant governor of Kauai, and was educated at the Royal School.” (Polynesian, November 25, 1848) Moses Kekūāiwa is buried at Mauna ʻAla.