In November I wrote about the 1869 Hawaii visit of Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh.
I mentioned that a boy was born at Bernice Pauahi Bishop’s home — “Haleakala” — downtown, during the royal visit. He was named Duke in his honor.
Twenty-one years later that boy was an adult named Duke Halapu Kahanamoku, and his wife gave birth to a son, named Duke Paoa Kahanamoku. He too was born in Pauahi’s home, I wrote.
Former Iolani Palace docent Willson Moore told me he wasn’t sure that was accurate. Moore is one of the experts I turn to, particularly with monarchy issues. He often knows more than I do and can help me put things in perspective.
Father (Duke Halapu Kahanamoku) and son (Duke Paoa Kahanamoku) were born in 1869 and 1890, respectively. I’ll refer to them as DHK and DPK for simplicity in this article.
Let’s begin with the place. It has its own complications, so let’s sort it out.
The property was mauka of King Street and makai of Hotel Street. It was between Fort and Alakea streets — Bishop Street did not exist until about 1900. I imagine it stretching from 24 Hour Fitness to Longs Drugs.
It was owned by high chiefs Abner and Konia Paki. Abner was 6 feet 6 inches tall and was a friend and adviser to Kamehameha III and IV.
The Pakis moved to Honolulu from Maui, and in 1851 built the estate, named Haleakala. That is often translated as “house of the sun,” but many believe the Pakis meant “pink house” or “pink coral.”
The home they lived in had another name: Aikupika, meaning “Egyptian.”
Abner and Konia had a daughter, Bernice Pauahi, and a hanai — Lydia Kamaka‘eha — who became Queen Lili‘uokalani.
In the “Kahanamoku Family Book,” Duke Halapu Kahanamoku explained that his father was simply called Kahanamoku, and his mother was Kahoea.
“I was born at Aikupika between Fort and Bishop Street on King Street at Mrs. Bishop’s homestead. The latter is daughter of Abner Paki and Konia, in the year 1869, July 21st.”
I believe DHP’s parents worked for and probably lived in Pauahi’s home on that site.
“When I came to this world,” DHK continued, “Mrs. Bernice Pauahi Bishop and Mrs. Paakaiulaula Bush were both present.
“After I was washed by Mrs. Bishop, she gave me the name ‘The Duke of Edinburgh,’ because the Duke was visiting Honolulu at the time.
“The Duke heard and was glad, and came to the house and I was presented to him and tooke [sic] me in his arms. And that is how I got this name.”
So that places DHK at Haleakala at his birth. What about his son, DPK?
Moore points out that it was not Bishop’s home, as I wrote when DPK was born in 1890. “In 1883 Bernice and husband Charles Reed Bishop moved out of Haleakala and into her cousin Ruth Ke‘elikolani’s Emma Street home.
“Bernice died in 1884, so it’s pretty difficult to still call the downtown residence ‘her home’ in 1890.”
Excellent point. I concede it.
Bernice Bishop owned the home after her parents’ deaths in 1855 and 1857. After Bishop’s death in 1884, the home became the Arlington Hotel about June 1890 — according to advertisements it ran in the papers — two months before Duke’s birth on Aug. 24.
The Arlington Hotel advertised that “visitors will find this one of the most comfortable and convenient houses in the city, the rooms being large, light and airy. Hot and cold water baths.”
Winding paths, an aviary and beautiful garden walks added to its charm. Per-week rate: $10-12. Meals per week cost $7.
American troops from the USS Boston encamped at the Arlington Hotel during the 1893 overthrow of Queen Lili‘uokalani, possibly unaware she had grown up there.
Charles Reed Bishop also considered placing the Bishop Museum on the property, before choosing Kalihi.
One source I turned to was a book called “Duke of Hawaii,” by Joe Brennan. The Honolulu Advertiser serialized it in 1967.
It said the 1890 birth of DPK was at “Haleakala (the estate of Princess Bernice Pauahi Paki Bishop) in Honolulu. This was the same home where DHK had been born in 1869.”
For me, though, that is not definitive. So I kept looking. A 1965 interview in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin quoted DPK, saying, “I was born in what was then called the Arlington Hotel, on the corner of Bishop and King streets downtown.”
I told this to Moore. He said, “I still find it farfetched that DPK was born in Haleakala in 1890, which is six years after the 1884 death of Bernice Pauahi Bishop. Why would the Kahanamoku family still be living there?”
He also pointed out that none of us remembers the actuality of our birth, only what we’ve been told about it.
Author Sandy Hall, who’s written two books — “Duke: A Great Hawaiian,” and “Memories of Duke: The Legend Comes to Life” — shared her thoughts on the topic.
She agrees with Moore that despite DPK saying he was born in the Arlington hotel (Bernice Bishop’s former estate), he was born in Kalia (now the Hilton Hawaiian Village).
“Most of my Duke family information is from the late Kamaka Clark-Miyamoto, DPK’s second cousin,” Hall says. “She was the daughter of Annie Paoa (Clark), Duke’s first cousin.
“Kamaka was the family genealogist. She represented the Paoa-Kahanamoku ohana and spoke at the 2002 Duke U.S. commemorative stamp issuance, and gave Mrs. Duke (Nadine) Kahanamoku’s eulogy in 1997.
“She carefully researched the State Archives and also remembered what family members told her.
“DHK married Julia Paakonia Paoa in 1887. Now this is key: The statistician Robert C. Schmitt estimated that the death rate for Native babies at this time was 50%.
“DHK (he was 21) and Julia’s (22) first child, Keomalia, was born Oct. 24, 1888. She died exactly one month later, Nov. 24, 1888, from whooping cough.”
Julia Paoa believed the air and environment at Kalia was much healthier than downtown and was adamant that when she became pregnant again, she would go to her parents’ Kalia home to have her next baby.
Julia’s mother, Mele Paoa, was still alive (she died in 1891), and she would have helped the young mother’s delivery. That baby was DPK, born Aug. 24, 1890.
Kamaka said DHK wrote, in family records she had seen, that DPK was born at Kalia. DPK’s youngest brothers, Sarge and Louis, also said Duke was born at Kalia.
The little family of Duke, Julia and “Baby Paoa,” as he was called, moved to Kalia to live in 1893 at the time of the overthrow.
“I believe that DPK misspoke when he said he was born at Haleakala,” Hall continues. “It is quite likely that his father, DHK, often talked about Haleakala. It was an oasis in downtown that was much admired.
“It is quite possible that at 10 years of age, in September 1900, little Duke toured the Haleakala property,” which was being demolished, “for an emotional trip down memory lane with his dad, and it became ingrained in his mind that he too was born there.
“Yes, DPK would usually say he lived in Kalia as a child, and say he was born in Honolulu. That may have been to avoid confusing reporters who would not know where Kalia was, or he really thought he was born at Haleakala.”
For me, I think that settles it. I wish all the sources agreed on the place of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku’s birth, but that happens sometimes.
Readers, what do you think?
Have a question or suggestion? Contact Bob Sigall, author of the five “The Companies We Keep” books, at Sigall@Yahoo.com.