John Mahiʻai Kāneakua

The Honourable John Mahi'ai Kāneakua (born John Mahi'ai Miller, September 9, 1860-January 26, 1936) was a noble of the non-ruling elite of the Kingdom of Hawaii, an attorney and politician. He was re-elected to the position of County Clerk of Kaua‘i for 28 years until his retirement at the age of 74.

John Mahi'ai Kāneakua
John Mahiai Kaneakua (vol. 2, 1921).jpg
County Clerk of Kaua‘i
In office
1906 – 1934 (at retirement)
Personal details
John Mahi'ai Miller

(1860-09-09)September 9, 1860
Honauaula, Maui, Hawaii
DiedJanuary 26, 1936(1936-01-26) (aged 75)
Kapaʻa, Kauaʻi, Hawaii
Resting placeKapaa First Hawaiian Church Cemetery
NationalityKingdom of Hawaii
United States
Political partyRepublican
Children2 adopted, 10 natural
Alma materRoyal School (Hawaii)
OccupationClerk for Hawaiian Legislature, Attorney, Notary Public, Politician

He opposed the provisional government/republic after overthrow by European Americans. He was elected during the territorial period. He supported Queen Lili‘uokalani after the overthrow in 1893 by actively participating in attempts to restore the monarchy.

He had attended the Royal School, graduating in 1877. He began practicing law in the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1886 and was a member of the Queen's OWN, (part of the volunteer military forces of the Kingdom) from 1886 to 1887.

Early life and educationEdit

He was born John Mahiai Miller in Honuaula, Maui to father, Alexander (Alika) P. Miller, son of Mela (Miller) and mother, Kapuailohiawahine Kanuha (Kaialiilii) Miller on October 9, 1860.[1] Kapuailohiawahine Miller, a notable hakumele (Hawaiian for composer of music) and his sister Isabella Hale'ala Miller taught hula in secret when the dance was banned.[2] He also had a brother, Samuel Kalimahana Miller, born in 1868.[3] and other siblings. He would be hānai adopted by James Kāneakua[4] who, it is believed, had no children of his own.[5]

John attended the Royal school, graduating in 1877[6] and then began studying law with Edward Preston, working as a clerk for the judge while Preston was still in the legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the House of Nobles.[1] He was admitted to practice law within the Kingdom in 1884, a year before Preston would be named to the Supreme Court of Hawaii. Newspaper ads from the attorney were prevalent in Hawaii where he was considered well known.[5]

Military service and organizationsEdit

The Kingdom of Hawaii's military was divided into several branches with one permanent King's Guard and several volunteer companies including the King's Own, The Queen's Own and the Prince's Own. John volunteered starting out as a Second Lieutenant of the Queen's Own on October 3, 1885 soon making First Lieutenant of Company A, and serving until 1887.[7]

He helped found the Kamehameha Rifle Association with Robert W. Wilcox, Sam Nowlein, and S. K. Kane and was a member of numerous organizations and associations including the Royal Order of Kamehameha, Kauaʻi Chamber of Commerce, Republican Central Committee, Ka Hale of Nā Aliʻi o Hawaiʻi, and the Kauaʻi Historical Society. He was also a member of Hui Hawaiian Aloha ʻĀina, which opposed the annexation of Hawaii.[5]

After overthrow of the Hawaiian KingdomEdit

Committee members, selected to present a memorial to U.S. Special Commissioner, James Blount. Kāneakua is seated on the bottom right

On January 17, 1893, the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown in a coup d'état by a militia group known as the Citizen's Committee of Public Safety. As part of the response to the overthrow, the Hui Hawaiian Aloha ʻĀina (Hawaiian Patriotic League) formed a convention of delegates with petitions against annexation and created a committee of members, selected to present a memorial to U.S. Special Commissioner, James Blount during the investigation for what became Blount Report for then President, Grover Cleveland. Kāneakua's name appears last on the list of the 19 committee member signatures.[6] Part of the document read:

Since the fate of our little kingdom and its inhabitants is in your hands, we do humbly pray that a speedy solution may be reached to avoid impending calamities, and so that we may once more enjoy the blessings of peace, prosperity, and a proper government.

— Statement of the Hui Hawaiian Aloha ʻĀina[8]

Personal life, marriages and deathEdit

John married Esther Kamakolu in Kapaʻa, Kauaʻi on July 5, 1903. They adopted two children named Esther Nuihaku and James Neenee. After Esther's death, Kāneakua remarried again at age 64 to Lucy Kaʻumealani Cummings. This union produced 10 children.[5]

Helped translate the Book of Mormon from English to ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1898 even though not of that faith.[5]

Kāneakua's home was in Kapaʻa, Kauaʻi. Puaikaena and her husband granted John interest in land Grant 2783 in Honomāʻele, Hāna, Maui by deed on May 30, 1900 and, on January 11, 1901, again granted land through land Grant 1210 in Waiakoa, Kula, Maui by Mrs. Inoaole Ahulii. He died in his home on the island of Kauaʻi on January 26, 1936.[5]

Family treeEdit


  1. ^ a b John William Siddall (1917). Men of Hawaii: Being a Biographical Reference Library, Complete and Authentic, of the Men of Note and Substantial Achievement in the Hawaiian Islands. Honolulu Star-Bulletin. pp. 159, 162. OCLC 656828381.
  2. ^ "pg composer B". Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  3. ^ State of Hawaii Department of Health, Office of Health Status Monitoring, Certificate of Marriage, May 2, 1903
  4. ^ "May 1, 1900, Page 3 The Independent" (PDF). Obituary. The Independent. May 1, 1900. p. 3. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Walk, Kaʻanoʻi (September 2013). "Kāneakua, John Mahiʻai". Ka‘iwakīloumoku Virtual Archive. Kamehameha Schools. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  6. ^ a b Soboleski, Hank (Aug 10, 2013). "John Mahiai Kaneakua". The Garden Island. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  7. ^ Nellist, George F. M. (edited by) (1925). The Story of Hawaii and Its Builders. Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Ltd.
  8. ^ United States. Department of State (1895). Foreign Relations of the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 913.