Kānekapōlei was a Native Hawaiian of high noho aliʻi (chiefly hierarchy) status and wife of Kalaniʻōpuʻu, aunt of Kamehameha I and present at the time Captain Cook's death.

She called attention to the kidnapping of her husband by Cook and his sailors. A group of men from among those attracted to the beach to answer her calls for help, grabbed Cook and stabbed him to death.

Kamehameha I
IssueKeōua Kūʻahuʻula
Keōua Peʻeʻale
Pauli Kaʻōleiokū
Kahiwa Kānekapōlei[2][3]
Alika Mela[1]
Kahinu, w.[1]


Born sometime in the 18th century, Kānekapōlei was a daughter of the High Chief Kauakahiakua of Maui and High Chiefess ʻUmiaemoku of Kaʻū. According to Hawaiian historian Samuel Kamakau, her father Kauakahiakua owned the sea cucumber (loli) ovens of the district of Kaupo on the island of Maui.[4] Her paternal grandparents were High Chief Lonomakahonua, the second son of King Lonohonuakini and brother of Kaʻulahea II, and Kahāpoʻohiwi.[5] Her mother ʻUmiaemoku, who was also married for a period of time to her nephew King Alapaʻinui, was an offshoot of the powerful ʻI family of Hilo district on her mother Kānekūkaʻailani's side, and a scion of the Mahi family of Kohala on her father Mahiolole's side; both families were formidable rivals to the main royal line on the island of Hawaii, the descendants of Keaweʻīkekahialiʻiokamoku.

Around 1762[6] Kānekapōlei became one of the wives of King Kalaniʻōpuʻu of Hawaii. She was not his highest ranking wife, that position was held by Kalola Pupuka-o-Honokawailani, the mother of his heir Kīwalaʻō, but was considered his favorite. With Kalaniʻōpuʻu, she had two known sons, Keōua Kūʻahuʻula and Keōua Peʻeʻale. Their first son would contend with Kamehameha I over the supremacy of the island of Hawaii until his death in 1790 at Kawaihae.[7] Nothing is known about the fate of Keōua Peʻeʻale, although historian John F. G. Stokes argued Keōua Peʻeʻale was merely another name for Pauli Kaʻōleiokū, her son with Kamehameha I.[8]

According to; "The Voyage of George Vancouver, 1791–1795: Volumes I–IV" Vancouver records the following description of Kānekapōlei; "Her Majesty is a very handsome woman, and carries in her looks & Manners a very suitable degree of dignity.[9] Vancouver writes of meeting her again in 1793. Guilt over memories of the ill fated Cook expedition had made Vancouver feel obligated to compensate with gifts as he writes; "I presented her with an assortment of valuables suitable to her former distinguished situation".[10]

Kidnapping of Kalaniʻōpuʻu

During Captain Cook's visit to Hawaii on his third voyage of exploration in 1779, he mentioned King Kalaniʻōpuʻu's favorite wife and queen Kānekapōlei. He and his men spelled her name many different ways including "Kanee-Kabareea", "Kanee-cappo-rei", "Kanee Kaberaia", "Kainee Kabareea", and "Kahna-Kubbarah".[12] Cook's second-in-command, Lieutenant James King, recounted her role in preventing the kidnapping of her husband and their two sons:

Things were in this prosperous train, the two boys being already in the pinnace, and the rest of the party having advanced near the water-side, when an elderly woman called Kanee-kabareea, the mother of the boys, and one of the king's favourite wives, came after him, and with many tears, and entreaties, besought him not to go on board.[13]

Hearing her lament, the Hawaiians gathered around the shore of Kealakekua Bay and tried to prevent their king from being taken. Cook's men had to retreat to the beach. As Cook turned his back to help launch the boats, he was struck on the head by the villagers and then stabbed to death as he fell on his face in the surf.[14][15]


Keōua Kūʻahuʻula

According to Abraham Fornander, Keōua Kūʻahuʻula was to blame for the initial breakout of civil war in Hawaii after the death of his father Kalaniʻōpuʻu. He had received no lands due to his uncle Keawemauhili's claim as next in line to Kīwalaʻō. Upset from the lack of any inheritance, he gathered his warriors, retainers and kahu and prepared for full battle, including their mahiole and ʻahu ʻula. They headed towards Ke‘ei where a fight broke out among the warriors and bathers of at the beach. Keōua ends up killing a number of Kamehameha's men.[16]


Kānekapōlei had a son named Pauli Kaʻōleiokū. The figure's paternity has been sourced to both Kalaniʻōpuʻu and Kamehameha I. Historians Abraham Fornander, Sheldon Dibble, and Samuel Kamakau all state Kamehameha I was Pauli's father however, sources earlier than Dibble deny this allegation and claims paternity to Kalaniʻōpuʻu. Further research has brought his paternity into question. Both Konia, his grandmother and Kānekapōlei herself, have flatly denied that Kaʻōleiokū was a son of Kamehameha I.[17][18][19][20] Kaʻōleiokū was raised by his mother. He joined his brother Keōua Kūʻahuʻula's forces in opposition to Kamehameha in 1782 after the Battle of Mokuʻōhai split the island into three warring chiefdoms.

In his book; "Pauahi: the Kamehameha legacy ", George H. Kanahele states that Bernice Pauahi Bishop's mele hānau does not actually mention Kamehameha I. He attributes the suggestion of Kaʻōleiokū being a son of Kamehameha to Joseph Mokuʻōhai Poepoe who calles Pauli; "ke keiki kamahaʻo" ("the love child"). Kanahele also states that Mary Kawena Pūkuʻi described this as part of the training of each warrior, and supposedly Kānekapōlei was chosen for this training. The author points out that the incident that created the doubt was when Keōua Kūʻahuʻula was killed at the consecration of the Puʻukoholā Heiau and Kamehameha announced that Kaʻōleiokū was the child of his beardless youth thus sparing his life. However in his note on that claim, Kanahele refers to Stokes as a counter; "For those who claim that Kamehameha did not father Kaʻōleiokū, the case is advanced by John F. B. Stokes in "Kaoleioku, Paternity and Biographical Sketch,". Her descendants by this son include Ruth Keʻelikōlani and Bernice Pauahi Bishop, founder of the Kamehameha School.[21] Elizabeth Kekaaniauokalani Kalaninuiohilaukapu Pratt claims that Kamehameha I stopped the death by calling Kaʻōleiokū his "keiki", meaning anything from his son to a nephew or even the son of a friend. Pratt states that Kamehameha's authority saved the boy and also brought him into the House of Kamehameha.[22]

Kānekapōlei was also said to be the mother of Keliʻikahekili, one of the wives of Kameʻeiamoku and mother of Hoapili, although the father is not mentioned.[4]

Kahiwa Kānekapōlei

Another figure often associated with Kānekapōlei is Kahiwa or Regina Kānekapōlei who was the mother of Kipikane, the wife of John Palmer Parker.[23] Her father was Kamehameha I however, according to Edith McKinzie, her mother was Kauhilanimaka (w).[24]


Kanekapolei Street in Waikīkī was named after an early 1930s resident of the area named Marion Kānekapōlei Guerrero Diamond, who was named for the chiefess Kānekapōlei.[25]


  1. ^ a b c Barrère 1994, p. 458.
  2. ^ Newton 1989, p. 130.
  3. ^ Bergin 2004, p. 26.
  4. ^ a b Kamakau 1992, p. 352.
  5. ^ Thrum 1916, p. 50.
  6. ^ Stokes 1935, pp. 33-34.
  7. ^ Fornander 1880, p. 205.
  8. ^ Stokes 1935, pp. 35-36.
  9. ^ Vancouver 1984, p. 42.
  10. ^ Smith 2010, p. 75.
  11. ^ "The Death of Captain James Cook, 14 February 1779 – National Maritime Museum". National Maritime Museum. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  12. ^ Stokes 1935, pp. 33–34.
  13. ^ King et al. 1784, pp. 43–44.
  14. ^ Collingridge 2003, pp. 409–410.
  15. ^ Kuykendall 1965, pp. 18–20.
  16. ^ Fornander 1880, pp. 307-308.
  17. ^ Stokes 1935, p. 18.
  18. ^ Fornander 1880, pp. 333-334.
  19. ^ Kamakau 1992, p. 127.
  20. ^ Thrum 1916, pp. 50-51.
  21. ^ Kanahele 2002, pp. 7-9.
  22. ^ Pratt 1920, p. 27.
  23. ^ Taylor 1950, p. 34.
  24. ^ McKinzie 1986, p. 48.
  25. ^ Pukui and Elbert (2004). "lookup of Kāne-kapōlei". on Place Names of Hawai'i. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii. Retrieved December 12, 2012.



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Anna Kaiulani

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Bernice Pauahi Bishop

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Helen Desha Beamer

Helen Kapuailohia Desha Beamer (September 8, 1882 – September 25, 1952) was a musician, composer of songs in the Hawaiian language, hula dancer and coloratura soprano of Hawaiian ancestry. Her descendents have also become accomplished artists in the U.S. state of Hawaii. In 1928, her duet of Ke Kali Nei Au with Sam Kapu Sr. on Columbia Records was the first commercial recording of the Charles E. King composition . She was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame in 1995.

House of Kalākaua

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House of Kamehameha

The House of Kamehameha (Hale O Kamehameha), or the Kamehameha dynasty, was the reigning Royal Family of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, beginning with its founding by Kamehameha I in 1795 and ending with the death of Kamehameha V in 1872 and Lunalilo in 1874. The kingdom would continue for another 21 years until its overthrow in 1893 with the fall of the House of Kalakaua.


Kalaimanokahoʻowaha (also known as Kanaʻina) was an aliʻi high chief of the island of Hawai'i who lived during the period of Captain James Cook's visit and western naming of the Sandwich Islands. He was the chief said to have struck the first blow to Cook when he attempted to kidnap Kalaniʻōpuʻu, the king of the island. He was called Kanaʻina nui ( an aliʻi title) as a birthright from his father, Keaweʻopala, first born son of Alapainui. After his father was killed by Kalaniʻōpuʻu, he would serve the new king as a kaukau aliʻi, a service class of Hawaiian nobility that his mother, Moana Wahine had descended from. This aliʻi service line would continue throughout the Kingdom of Hawaii.


Kalaniʻōpuʻu-a-Kaiamamao (c. 1729 – April 1782) was a Hawaiian monarch, the 6th Aliʻi (chief) of Kohala, 4th Aliʻi of the Kona district and 2nd Aliʻi of the Kaʻū district on the island of Hawaiʻi. He was called Terreeoboo, King of Owhyhee by James Cook and other Europeans. His name has also been written as Kaleiopuu.

Kalākua Kaheiheimālie

Kalākua Kaheiheimālie, later known as Hoapili Wahine (c. 1778–1842) was a member of Hawaiian royalty who was one of the Queen consorts at the founding of the Kingdom of Hawaii. She was mother of another Queen consort, and grandmother of two future kings. Some sources call her Kaheiheimaile rather than Kaheiheimālie. "Mālie" means serene while the "maile" is the vine Alyxia olivaeformis. The second spelling seems to be older and more appropriate.

Kamehameha I

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Kekuʻiapoiwa II

Kekuʻiapoiwa II was a Hawaiian chiefess and the mother of the king Kamehameha I.


Kepoʻokalani was a High Chief during the founding of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Two of his grandchildren would marry each other, and two of his great-grandchildren would be the last two ruling monarchs of the Kingdom.

Keōua Kūʻahuʻula

Keōua Kūʻahuʻula was an Aliʻi (member of the royal class) during the time of the unification of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.

Kidnapping of Kalaniʻōpuʻu by James Cook

Captain James Cook's 1779 attempted kidnapping of Kalaniʻōpuʻu, the ruling chief of the island of Hawaii and the decision to hold him in exchange for a stolen long boat (lifeboat) was the fatal error of Cook's final voyage, and ultimately led to his death.

Cook's arrival in Hawaii was followed by mass migrations of Europeans and Americans to the islands that gave rise to the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, the aboriginal monarchy of the islands, beginning in 1893.

Pauli Kaōleiokū

Pauli Kaʻōleiokū (abt 1767–1818) was a Prince of Hawaii.


Peleuli (fl. 19th century), formally Peleuli-i-Kekela-o-kalani, was a Queen consort of the Kingdom of Hawaii as a wife of king Kamehameha I.


Abner Kuhoʻoheiheipahu Pākī (c. 1808–1855) was a Hawaiian high chief during the reign of King Kamehameha III, the father of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, founder of Kamehameha Schools.


Ululani was a Hawaiian chiefess, 7th Aliʻi Nui (ruler) of Hilo. She is also known as Ululani Nui ("Ululani the Great") and was the most celebrated woman poet of her day.

Kalaniʻōpuʻu, Kamehameha, Kānekapōlei and Peleuli family tree

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