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Kuini Liliha

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Kuini Liliha
John Hayter - 'Govenor Boki of Oahu and his wife Liliha', pastel, c. 1860,.jpg
Boki (left) with Liliha (right)
Born c. 1802
Died August 25, 1839
Title Royal governor of Oʻahu
Spouse(s) Namaile
Children John F. Koakanu
Jane Loeau
Abigail Maheha
Parents Ulumāheihei Hoapili

Kuini Liliha (c. 1802–1839) was a High Chiefess in the ancient Hawaiian tradition and served the Kingdom of Hawaii as royal governor of Oʻahu. She administered the island from 1829 to 1831 following the death of her husband.

Early life

She was born in 1802 or 1803. Her father was Ulumāheihei Hoapili, a son of Kameʻeiamoku, one of the ninau pio (highest noble rank) royal twin brothers. Her mother was High Chiefess Kalilikauoha of Maui, who was the daughter of King Kahekili II of Maui and his half-sister bride Luahiwa. Her name means "heartsick queen" in the Hawaiian language.[1][2] She had no siblings. She married Boki, an advisor and friend to King Kamehameha II.[3]

United Kingdom

Boki, Kuini Liliha, and Mataio Kekuanaoa were principal members of the entourage that accompanied Kamehameha II and the Queen Consort on an 1824 diplomatic tour of the United Kingdom, visiting King George IV. The entire delegation contracted the measles one after the other, since native Hawaiians had no immunity to the disease. As a result, the Queen Consort Kamehamalu and several chiefs died, including Kamehameha II who was so distraught after his Queen's death that he died in Kuini Liliha's arms.

Boki and Kuini Liliha survived the measles and Boki took charge of what was left of the delegation. They managed to secure agreements of friendship from the British government. The Kingdom of Hawaii also became a protectorate of the British military under those agreements. Boki and Kuini Liliha returned to Oʻahu with the bodies of Kamehameha II and Kamehamalu in 1825 on the HMS Blonde.[4]


Kuini Liliha became embroiled in the dispute over freedom of religion in the kingdom. Kaʻahumanu had become influenced by the Protestant missionaries in Honolulu and was baptized into the Congregational church. Heeding the advice of her Congregationalist ministers, Kaʻahumanu convinced King Kamehameha III to ban the Roman Catholic Church from the islands.

The priests and lay brothers of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary were forcibly deported from the kingdom. Native Hawaiians who had converted were persecuted. Some were beaten and imprisoned. When Kaʻahumanu discovered that Boki and Liliha were among the first chiefs to convert to the suppressed Hawaii Catholic Church it angered the queen regent, who wanted all the chiefs to accept Protestantism in order that all Hawaiians would follow. Kuini Liliha's steadfastness in her Catholicism influenced Native Hawaiian Catholics to persevere even in suppression. Only after the intervention of the French government and Captain Cyrille-Pierre-Théodore Laplace and Kamehameha III's proclamation of the Edict of Toleration did Hawaiians like Kuini Liliha have the legal right of membership in the Hawaii Catholic Church.

Royal governor

As royal governor, Boki incurred large debts from the foreigners and attempted to cover them by traveling to the New Hebrides to harvest sandalwood. Before departing in 1829, Boki entrusted administration of Oʻahu to his wife. One of her new responsibilities was to become legal guardian and sole trustee of the properties of Kamehameha III, who had become king as a child. This was opposed by Kaʻahumanu who was ruling Hawaii as queen regent and had developed a rivalry with Kuini Liliha.

Boki and his entourage were lost at sea and pronounced dead, leaving Liliha in administration as royal governor.[5] On April 1, 1831. Kaʻahumanu stripped Kuini Liliha of her power, replacing her with Kaʻahumanu's own brother, John Adams Kuakini as governor of Oʻahu.


She had daughters by her other husbands Kalaniulumoku and Namaile: Jane Loeau and Abigail Maheha, and perhaps other children.[6] King Kamehameha III declared both eligible for the Hawaiian throne, and they were sent to the Chiefs' Children's School later known as the Royal School in Honolulu. She died in August 24, 1839 in Honolulu and was buried on sacred island called Moku ʻula on Maui. She was later reburied in the Christian Waineʻe cemetery.[3] Although treated as a rebel by Kaʻahumanu, she was generally loved by the people. For example, a traditional hula chant honors her memory.[7] A street is named for in Honolulu.[8]


  1. Pukui and Elbert (2003). "lookup of kuini". on Hawaiian dictionary. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii. Retrieved 2009-12-27. 
  2. Pukui and Elbert (2003). "lookup of liliha". on Hawaiian dictionary. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii. Retrieved 2009-12-27. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Kuini Liliha at Find a Grave
  4. James Macrae (1922). William Frederick Wilson. ed. With Lord Byron at the Sandwich Islands in 1825: Being Extracts from the MS Diary of James Macrae, scottish botanist. ISBN 9780554605265. 
  5. "Governor of Oʻahu". official archives. State of Hawaii. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  6. Christopher Buyers. "The Kamehameha Dynasty Genealogy (Page 4)". Royal Ark web site. Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  7. Kaiulani Kanoa-Martin. "Ke Ala Nui Liliha". Hawaiian Music and Hula Archives. Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  8. Pukui and Elbert (2004). "lookup of liliha". on Place Names of Hawai'i. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Kuini Liliha. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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