Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ʻĀinahau (“land of the hau tree”)

Princess Victoria Kawekiu i Lunalilo Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kaʻiulani Cleghorn (commonly referred to as Princess Kaʻiulani) was born in Honolulu on October 16, 1875.

Princess Kaʻiulani's mother was Princess Miriam Kapili Kekauluohi Likelike (sister of King Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani) and her father was Scottish businessman and horticulturist Archibald Scott Cleghorn, who later became Governor of Oʻahu.

Princess Kaʻiulani was the only child born to the Kalākaua dynasty; as such, she was the only direct heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.

Kaʻiulani inherited 10-acres of land in Waikīkī from her godmother, Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani.  Originally called Auaukai, Princess Likelike (Kaʻiulani's mother) named it ʻĀinahau; Princess Kaʻiulani spent most of her life there.

The stream that flowed through ʻĀinahau and emptied into the ocean between the Moana and Royal Hawaiian Hotels (where the present Outrigger Hotel is located,) was called ʻApuakehau (the middle of three rivers that used to run through Waikīkī.)

The family built a two-story home on the estate.  At first the home was used only as a country estate, but Princess Kaʻiulani's family loved it so much, it soon became their full time residence.

The home was furnished with two grand pianos, elaborate brocade chairs, gold and glass cabinets and fixtures. Also, there were various art collections displayed on the walls and rooms.

The Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson was a frequent guest and used to read passages of poetry to the young Princess under the banyan tree.  He even composed a poem for her where he described her as his “island rose, light of heart and bright of face.”

Archibald Cleghorn had an avid interest in horticulture.  He imported plants and flowers from all over the world and planted them at ʻĀinahau.

Plants on the estate included mango trees, teak, cinnamon, camphor trees, date palms and sago palms.  Its ten acres were filled with gardens, three lily ponds, 500 coconut trees, 14 varieties of hibiscus and 8 kinds of mango trees.

Reportedly, the first banyan tree in Hawaii was planted on the grounds of ʻĀinahau.  As many as fifty peacocks, favorites of the young Princess, were allowed to roam freely on the grounds.

While attending a wedding at Parker Ranch at Waimea on the Big Island, Kaʻiulani got caught in a cold Waimea rain while riding on horseback, she became ill; she and her family returned to O‘ahu.

After a two-month illness, Kaʻiulani died at ʻĀinahau on March 6, 1899, at age 23.  It is said that the night she died, her peacocks screamed so loud that people could hear them miles away and knew that she had died.

In the late-1920s, the dredging of the Ala Wai Canal dried up the streams and ponds on the ʻĀinahau estate.  The home was torn down in 1955 to make room for the Princess Kaʻiulani Hotel and other real estate properties.  

Today the Princess Kaʻiulani Hotel sits at the former driveway entrance to the ʻĀinahau Estate, across the street from Waikiki's historic Moana Hotel, which opened in 1901.

In 1999, a statue of Princess Kaʻiulani was erected in a small triangle park (at the corner of Kūhiō Avenue and Kaʻiulani Avenue,) which also includes a bus stop, halau mound for performances, landscaping and walkway.

The image shows Princess Kaʻiulani with friends at ʻĀinahau; in addition, I have included other images of the property in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.

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