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Stories of Prominent People *P*

 

Ke Ali‘i Bernice Pauahi Bishop (1831-1884)

By Roy Alameida


In 1883, Pauahi Bishop bequeathed her entire estate for the establishment of a school to educate Hawaiian children. Today, the endowment supports the largest independent pre-kindergarten through grade 12 school in the United States . Born December 19, 1831 in Honolulu to High Chiefs Pākī and Konia, Pauahi was the great-granddaughter and the last royal descendant of Kamehameha I, the warrior chief who united the Hawaiian Islands under his rule in 1810.

Educated by American Protestant missionaries, Pauahi, spent ten years of her life at the Royal School, also known as the Chiefs’ Children’s School, in Honolulu. In addition to Pauahi, other ali’i such as Lili‘uokalani, Alexander Liholiho (Kamehameha IV), Lot Kapuāiwa, (Kamehameha V), and Kalākaua were also students at the school. The school was unique in that it brought together ali‘i children to be educated and taught the ways of governance because at the time the Hawaiian Kingdom was facing the constant threat of attack from foreign governments and interests.

Next to her high-ranking genealogy, no other aspect of Pauahi’s life was as important as her marriage to Charles Reed Bishop from Glen Falls, New York. As an eighteen-year-old girl, nearly standing alone, Pauahi made the most important decision in her life against opposition and against the weight of tradition. She had rejected her parent’s betrothal to Lot Kapuāiwa, (Kamehameha V) and Lot’s own proposal in marriage. The marriage alienated her from her parents but later she reconciled with them.

Legacy of a Princess

During her lifetime, Pauahi witnessed the increased influence and domination of foreigners and the physical and social decline of her people. The Native Hawaiian population declined from about 400,000 at the time of Cook’s arrival in 1778 to 45,000 in 1878. Pauahi had the vision to believe that education would help her people out of their plight and restore their pride and hope for the future. With that in mind, she created her Will as an instrument for change. Among the seventeen articles related to her wishes after her death, one article, the thirteenth, contained specific instructions. The Will in part states:

"I give, devise and bequeath all the rest, residue and remainder of my estate real and personal, wherever situated unto the trustees…their heirs and assigns forever, to hold upon the following trusts, namely: to erect and maintain in the Hawaiian Islands two schools…one for boys and one for girls, to be known as, and called the Kamehameha Schools."

She further directed the trustees, “to expend such amount as they may deem best, not to exceed however one-half of the funds which may come into their hands, in the purchase of suitable premises, the erection of school buildings and in furnishing the same with necessary and appropriate fixtures, furniture and apparatus." In 1887, The Kamehameha School for Boys opened with thirty-seven students and five teachers. A school for girls followed seven years later.

On December 19 each year, the anniversary of Pauahi’s birth is remembered. Her compassion and generosity is still engendered in her memory. At the heart of her will is her injunction to the trustees that, above all else, provide her beneficiaries a “good education” that will make out of them “good and industrious men and women.” Pauahi’s legacy is The Kamehameha Schools, the sole beneficiary of her trust.

Pauahi, Founder of the Kamehameha Schools

By Roy Alameida

For more than a century, thousands of Hawaiians have been touched by the generosity and legacy of Ke Ali‘i Pauahi. Her estate which encompasses nearly 365,800 acres of land in Hawai‘i is valued at more than $6 billion. The revenues generated from the assets of the estate fund Kamehameha Schools’ educational programs and services for thousands of students in Hawai‘i. As we celebrate the 176 th anniversary of the birth of Ke Ali‘i Bernice Pauahi Bishop, let us not forget our kuleana as beneficiaries of Pauahi’s legacy. The words spoken at the Founder’s Day services on December 19, 1923, are a reminder of that kuleana we have:

“The result of her wise disposition of her property, you young people all know too well. It is yours – you who live it each day of your lives. Without it, where would many of you be today? Think what a heritage Pauahi Bishop has left you, and when dark days and trials come, as come they will to us all, stop for a moment, look up, and realize what your Ali‘i has done for you, and take on courage and renewed strength for life’s battle.”

 

-- from http://ksbe.edu/pauahi/bio.php

 


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