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Mataio Kekūanaōʻa (1791–1868) was descended from the high chiefs of the island of Oʻahu. His first name is the Hawaiian form of Matthew. Kekūanaōʻa translates as "the standing projection" in the Hawaiian language.[3]

Kuhina Nui of the Hawaiian Islands and Governor of Oʻahu
Kuhina Nui of the Hawaiian Islands
ReignDecember 21, 1863 – August 24, 1864
PredecessorKaʻahumanu IV
Successorposition abolished
Royal Governor of Oʻahu
PredecessorJohn Adams Kuakini
SuccessorJohn Owen Dominis
Bornc. January 1791
Died(1868-11-24)November 24, 1868
Pakakanene, Honolulu, Oʻahu[1]
BurialDecember 22, 1868[2]
Ruth Keʻelikōlani (legally recognized)
David Kamehameha
Moses Kekūāiwa
Lot Kapuāiwa
Alexander Liholiho
Victoria Kamāmalu
Full name
Mataio (Matthew) Keawenui Kekūanaōʻa
SignatureKekūanaōʻa's signature


Parentage and early lifeEdit

Kekūanaōʻa was born sometime around the year 1791.[4][5] According to Abraham Fornander, "Pupuka, an Oahu chief of considerable importance, was father of Inaina, the wife of Nahiolea, and mother of Kekuanaoa, late governor of Oahu."[6]:223 John Papa ʻĪʻī's uncle Nāhiʻōleʻa, the aliʻi that took Kalanikapule's side against Kamehameha I and was killed by his cousins, was listed in the newspaper Ke Au Okoa as Kekūanaōʻa's father; however, in the chant for Nakanealoha, the name of Kiʻilaweau is mentioned as a makua. This makes some believe he had two fathers,[7]:146 a tradition called poʻolua.[8] At his death, his parents were identified as Nāhiʻōleʻa and Inaina,[1] but on March 14, 1879, in an opinion for the Hawaiian Supreme Court over a probate matter, Justice C.J. Harris wrote: "With regard to Ruth Keelikolani, it appears to me pretty clear that Keawe, No. 3 of Moana’s husbands, was the father of Kanaina the first by Moana; that this Kanaina had a son, Kiilaweau, who was the father of Kekuanaoa, and Kekuanaoa was the father of Keelikolani."[9] Genealogist differ on the correct line with some believing that Nāhiʻōleʻa and Inaina were his parents and others believing it to be Kiʻilaweau and Kahoowaha, daughter of Moana Wahine.[10]

Kiʻilaweau was an aliʻi of the highest rank.[11] While Kekūanaōʻa's children were not as high ranking as Kamehameha II or Kamehameha III, Kekūanaōʻa descends from Keawehanauikawalu, the son of Lonoikamakahiki, and his line was considered high-ranking.[12]

Political careerEdit

He was the Royal Governor of Oʻahu 1839–1864.[13] On December 21, 1863 he was made the sixth Kuhina Nui, replacing his daughter who became Crown Princess and heir apparent to the throne. For most of his reign as Kuhina Nui he supported his son Kamehameha V's view of abolishing the position. He held the position until 1864 when the Constitution of 1864 abolished it. He also served as a member of the House of Nobles from 1841–1868, Privy Council 1845–1869, and as President of the Board of Education from 1860.[14] In 1866, Mark Twain wrote of Mataio Kekūanaōʻa: "[A] man of noble presence.." and "[S]eemingly natural and fitted to the place as if he had been born to it...."[15]

The Territorial Building in the Hawaii Capital Historic District was named for him.[16]

Personal lifeEdit

He was the punahele, or intimate companion of King Kamehameha II in his youth,[17] and followed him to England where the King and Queen Kamāmalu died of measles in 1824. He was able to escape the sickness and return to Hawaii, stabilizing himself in the court by marrying two wives of his late sovereign. His first marriage to Kalehua was from 1822 to 1825, and the product of this marriage was a son named Paʻaula. He married again to Pauahi, the widow of Kamehameha II. Their marriage lasted only months, from November 1825 to her death in February 1826. He is considered the father of her daughter Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani.

He remarried Elizabeth Kīnaʻu, another Kamehameha II widow, who ruled as the Kuhina Nui at the time under the name Kaʻahumanu II. From her he fathered David Kamehameha, Moses Kekūāiwa, Lot Kapuāiwa, Alexander Liholiho, and Victoria Kamāmalu. His sons Alexander and Lot would become King Kamehameha IV and King Kamehameha V. His daughter would become the fifth Kuhina Nui as Kaʻahumanu IV. The third marriage lasted from 1827 until Kīnaʻu's death in 1839. After 6 years as a widower he remarried again in 1845, to the High Chiefess Kaloloahilani.[18] The marriage resulted in the birth of a son on November 28, 1846.[19]


  1. ^ a b "Death of His Highness Mataio Kekuanaoa". The Pacific Commercial Advertiser. November 28, 1868. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  2. ^ David W. Forbes, ed. (2001). Hawaiian national bibliography, 1780–1900. 3. University of Hawaii Press. p. 469. ISBN 0-8248-2503-9.
  3. ^ Pukui, Mary Kawena; Elbert, Samuel H.; Mookini, Esther T. (1974). Place Names of Hawaii. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-8248-0524-1.
  4. ^ David W. Forbes (1998). Hawaiian National Bibliography, Vol 3: 1851-1880. University of Hawaii Press. p. 469. ISBN 978-0-8248-2503-4.
  5. ^ Kristin Zambucka (1977). The High Chiefess, Ruth Keelikolani. Kristin Zambucka Books. p. 13. GGKEY:2LWYXGZDYAZ.
  6. ^ Abraham Fornander; John F. G. Stokes (1880). An Account of the Polynesian Race: Its Origins and Migrations, and the Ancient History of the Hawaiian People to the Times of Kamehameha I. Trubner & Company.
  7. ^ John Papa Īī, Mary Kawena Pukui, Dorothy B. Barrère (1983). Fragments of Hawaiian History (2 ed.). Bishop Museum Press. ISBN 0-910240-31-0.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ James L. Haley (November 4, 2014). Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii. St. Martin's Press. p. 79. ISBN 978-1-4668-5550-2.
  9. ^ Hawaii Reports: Cases Determined in the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii. Valenti Brothers Graphics. 1893. p. 632.
  10. ^ KAPIIKAUINAMOKU. "The Story of Maui Royalty". ULUKAU: THE HAWAIIAN ELECTRONIC LIBRARY. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  11. ^ Kawaikaumaiikamakaokaopua, Z. P. K. "Z. P. K. Kawaikaumaiikamakaokaopua's treatise on canoe building, 1922". Nupepa. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  12. ^ Edith Kawelohea McKinzie (January 1, 1983). Hawaiian Genealogies: Extracted from Hawaiian Language Newspapers. University of Hawaii Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-939154-28-9.
  13. ^ "Governor of Oahu" (PDF). official archives. State of Hawaii. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 21, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2009.
  14. ^ "Kekuanaoa, Mateo office record". official archives. State of Hawaii. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved November 25, 2009.
  15. ^ Mark Twain (1872). "LXVII". Roughing It. David Widger.
  16. ^ Burl Burlingame (June 27, 2004). "Territorial Office Building is district's underrated gem". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved October 11, 2010.
  17. ^ Sophia Cracroft, Lady Franklin, Queen Emma of Hawaii (1958). Alfons L. Korn (ed.). The Victorian visitors: an account of the Hawaiian Kingdom, 1861–1866, including the journal letters of Sophia Cracroft: extracts from the journals of Lady Franklin, and diaries and letters of Queen Emma of Hawaii. The University Press of Hawaii. p. 304. ISBN 978-0-87022-421-8.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Mataio Kekūanaōʻa Hawaii Department of Accounting and General Services
  19. ^ Journal, Amos Starr Cooke, December 1, 1846. Vol. 8, p. 14., Honolulu: Hawaiian Mission Houses Library.
Preceded by
John Adams Kuakini
Royal Governor of Oʻahu
Succeeded by
John Owen Dominis
Preceded by
Kaʻahumanu IV
Kuhina Nui of the Hawaiian Islands
December 21, 1863 – August 24, 1864
Succeeded by
Position Abolished