By JARED G. SMITH
Hulihee Palace, Kailua, North Kona, was built in 1837 as the home of Governor John Adams Kuakini, Hawaiian High Chief, wise leader and ruler of his people during the troubled decades when the conflict between Polynesian and occidental ideologies was becoming acute. He was friendly to the missionaries, Protestant and Catholic, building churches for both alike, setting the example of adopting new ideas which seemed to him advantageous to the Hawaiian people, yet retaining and preserving the old manner of life and the historic pageantry of his court for he was of the Alii, a Kamehameha, brother of Queen Kaahumanu, prideful of place and power and lineage.
Named “John Adams” because Kuakini was born in the time of the second President of the United States, I ought to claim him as my calabash relation, my great grandpappy having been Jesse Adams, on of our second President’s cousins, which is neither here nor there.
Hulihee became a Hawaiian museum in 1927 . The property had passed to William Pitt Leleiohoku, Kuakini’s adopted son and heir upon the latter’s death; then to John Pitt Kinau, husband of Princess Ruth, who bequeathed all of her property to Princess Pauahi (Mrs. Bishop). Mrs. Bishop sold it to King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani. Then Hulihee was a part of the Kapiolani estate, shared by Prince David Kawananakoa and Prince Kuhio Kalanianaole. After the latter’s demise it was purchased by Mrs. Bathsheba M. Allen who held the title until 1927, when through the influence of Hawaiian Societies, the legislature appropriated money for its purchase.
Governor Wallace R. Farrington fulfilled the deed by naming the Daughters of Hawaii permanent custodians of Hulihee Palace, and since 1927 the legislature has provided funds for its care and maintenance. The Daughters of Hawaii was organized in 1903 by seven ladies, all Hawaiian born but none of the Hawaiian race, their purpose: “To preserve historic places; to erect memorials; to care fore those things which are the foundation stones of olden times and events and peoples.” The charter members were: Mrs. B. F. Dillingham, Mrs. C. H. Dickey, Mrs. P. C. Jones, Mrs. Ellen Weaver, Mrs. Sarah Coan Waters, Mrs. Severance and Miss Anna Paris.
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I learned respect for the power and might of this organization consisting entirely of women born in Hawaii when the editor of The Advertiser sent me on special assignment to “cover” the dedication of Hulihee Palace by the Daughters of Hawaii, on Kamehameha Day June 11, 1928. The only gentleman of the press, the only other males present were Dr. Gerrit P. “Kauka” Wilder and George Kalama, a chanter 98 years old. “Kauka” and I sat on the top step of the koa staircase and kept very quiet. Kalama did his stuff and chanted.
I watched and recorded the enactment of a stately ceremonial, the studied grace and beauty of which will ever remain etched on memory’s tablets.
These were women that I knew, but in imagination I saw a scene lifted bodily from Kamehameha’s court—the rite of purification as a stately maiden came forward, flitting water with finger tips from a calabash—the presentation of a taboo stick and three royal kahili, and ancient feather capes and ceremonial robes handed down from generation to generation from Alii who may have lived long before Hawaii was known to the outside world—a votive mat with gold and silver vessels, precious heirlooms, feather work and the delicate handicraft of the givers—forms and customs meticulously preserved and reduplicated, a page torn from times of yore.
Guarded and cherished by the Daughters of Hawaii, Hulihee Palace is a monument of friendship by present and future for the storied past, “The Wings of Friendship Never Moult a Feather” the motto of the Daughters, Hawaiian born custodians of Hulihee.
(Advertiser, 6/22/1944, p. 14)