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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, October 31, 2004

Kuhio Beach Park named for prince who served Hawai'i

Advertiser Staff

Beach profile: Kuhio Beach Park lies between the Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel and the Kapahulu Groin. Before 1951, the east end of the park was fronted by a shallow reef and was called "Stonewall" for the vertical seawall that supported Kalakaua Avenue. The Waikiki Beach Improvement Project, completed in July 1951, changed the area dramatically.

James W. Glover Ltd. built a large pedestrian promenade into the ocean. Officially known as the Kapahulu Groin, the structure is an extension of a storm drain that runs under Kapahulu Avenue. The project also included building the low retaining wall on the diamondhead side of the groin and hauling in sand to create the beaches on both sides.

Ocean activities: Outrigger canoe paddling, catamaran sailing, snorkeling, surfing, swimming.

What's there: Food concession, picnic tables, equipment rental concessions, restrooms, showers.

History: Kuhio Beach Park was named for Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole, the youngest son of Kekaulike Kinoiki II and High Chief David Kahalepouli Pi'ikoi. He was born on March 26, 1871, at Hoai, Kualu, in the KoIoa district of Kaua'i. His mother died soon after his birth. He and his two older brothers were adopted by Kapi'olani, his mother's sister. Kapi'olani and her husband, Kalakaua, had no children, so when Kalakaua became king in 1874, he gave each of the boys the title of prince.

In 1893, a revolution deposed Queen Lili'uokalani, Kalakaua's sister and successor. In 1895, Prince Kuhio and other royalists joined Robert Wilcox in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Republic of Hawai'i and restore the queen to her throne. Prince Kuhio served one year in jail as a political prisoner. He was released Oct. 8, 1896, the same day as Queen Lili'uokalani and other royalists who also had been arrested.

In 1902, Prince Kuhio was elected Hawai'i's second delegate to Congress and served until his death in 1922. He is best remembered for his efforts to help the Hawaiian people, and in 1921 he was successful in obtaining passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, a measure that opened public lands in Hawai'i for homesteading by Native Hawaiians.

Kuhio Beach Park was the site of Prince Kuhio's home, Pualeilani, or "flower from the wreath of heaven," where he lived with his wife, Princess Elizabeth Kahanu. On July 22, 1918, he removed the high board fence around his home and opened this section of beach to the public. When he died of heart disease at Pualeilani on Jan. 7, 1922, the property was given to the city. It was officially dedicated as Kuhio Beach Park in 1940.

Waikiki's two famous surf sites, Queen's and Canoes, are off the west end of the park. Queen's was named for Queen Lili'uokalani, who had a beach home and a pier inshore of the site, and Canoes was named for the outrigger canoes that are still used to surf its waves today. Waikiki's beach boys also teach visitors how to surf at Canoes, one of the best beginner spots in Hawai'i.

Kuhio Beach Park is the site of three well-known landmarks, the Stones of Kapaemahu (aka "the wizard stones"), the Duke Kahanamoku statue and the Prince Kuhio statue. The stones represent four legendary men, Kapaemahu, Kahaloa, Kapuni and Kinohi, who came to Hawai'i from a distant land. They were famous throughout the Islands for their powers of healing and for their great wisdom. The Duke Kahanamoku statue, created by sculptor Jan-Michelle Sawyer, was dedicated on Aug. 24, 1990, the 100th anniversary of the Duke's birth. One of the greatest sports heroes of Hawai'i, Kahanamoku is recognized internationally as the father of modern surfing. The statue of Prince Kuhio, created by sculptor Sean Browne, was dedicated on Jan. 12, 2002.

In the neighborhood: All of Waikiki.

Source: "Beaches of O'ahu" and "Hawai'i Place Names: Shores, Beaches and Surf Sites," both by John Clark

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