I attended the unveiling and dedication of Ho‘ola‘a O King Kaumuali‘i, an eight-foot tall bronze statue of the last ruler of Kaua‘i.
The event took place at Paula‘ula, the traditional homesite of Kaumuali‘i the last king of Kaua‘i, on the grounds of the Russian Fort Elizabeth State Park in Waimea Kauai on Saturday, March 20, 2021.
Kaumuali‘i rejoiced in May 1820 at the return of his long-lost son Humehume (George Kaumuali‘i) who was returned to Kaua‘i from New England accompanying the Pioneer Company. The Kaua‘i king provided land and support for a missionary station at Waimea. He enjoyed reading a Bible with his name inscribed on its cover brought to him by the “Samuels,“ pioneer company missionaries Samuel Whitney and Samuel Ruggles.
I joined Aletha Kawelukawahinehololio‘olimaloa Goodwin Kaohi, a lifetime resident of Waimea and a direct descendant of Kaumuali‘i. Aletha worked with the Friends of King Kaumuali‘i organization for years to complete the project. The Legislature provided over $200,000 in funding to allow completion of the statue created by Kauai-based sculptor Siam Caglayan.
Over the years, I have assisted Aletha with writing and photographs for Kaua‘i history and Kalewina (the Native Hawaiian Congregational churches of Hawai‘i) projects.
Professor Peter Mills, head of the Anthropology Department at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, flew in for the event. Peter is the author of Hawaii’s Russian Adventure: A New Look at Old History from the UH Press, a book that provides a definitive account of how Kaumuali‘i and the people of Kaua‘i actually built the fort at Waimea, not a party from the Russian-American Company.