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Keʻeaumoku Pāpaʻiahiahi
Bornc. 1736
Died(1804-03-21)March 21, 1804
SpouseNāmāhānaʻi Kaleleokalani
Issue Kaʻahumanu
Kalākua Kaheiheimālie
Kahekili Keʻeaumoku II
Namahana Piʻia
Father Keawepoepoe

Keʻeaumoku Pāpaʻiahiahi (1736–1804) was a Hawaiian high chief and the father of Kaʻahumanu. He was the principal agent in elevating Kamehameha I to the throne of Hawaiʻi and served in a capacity similar to commander in chief or Prime Minister. [1] He is sometimes referred to as Keʻeaumoku II Pāpaʻiahiahi numbering Keʻeaumoku Nui as the first and his son as the third.


His father was Hawaiʻi island chief Keawepoepoe and his mother was Kūmaʻaikū. He was called Keʻeaumoku by the people which literally means the Island-climbing Swimmer. [1] Keʻeaumoku was a warlike and ambitious chief of the Kona district of Hawaiʻi island. He was among the first of five Kona chiefs to back Kamehameha I against his cousin Kiwalaʻo. The four other Kona chiefs were: High Chief Kalua‘apana Keaweāheulu, Kamehameha’s uncle; Kekūhaupiʻo, Kamehameha's warrior teacher; Kame'eiamoku and Kamanawa, half-brothers of Keʻeaumoku on their father's side. [2]

In 1782, at the Battle of Mokuʻōhai near Keʻei, Kona, Keʻeaumoku led Kamehameha's warriors to victory, and Kīwalaʻō was killed. [3]: 124  Kīwalaʻō was wearing an ʻahu ʻula (red feather cloak), which then became the property of Kamehameha (this feathered cloak is now in the collection of the Bishop Museum). One account states that the injured Keʻeaumoku Pāpaʻiaheahe crawled to Kīwalaʻō, who also had been injured, and then Keʻeaumoku Pāpaʻiaheahe slit the neck of Kīwalaʻō with a leiomano (shark-tooth weapon). He was commander-in-chief of Kamehameha's forces in most of his war compaigns. He served as Counsellor of State and was Kamehameha's prime minister. [4]

On his first visit of his Expedition of 1791–1795, Keʻeaumoku convinced George Vancouver to trust Kamehameha, leading to two return visits and an important alliance with the British. Vancouver, who spelled his name "Kahowmotoo", left some goats and returned the next year to find them thriving. [5]

While preparing for an invasion of Kauaʻi island against King Kaumualiʻi, an epidemic called maʻi ʻōkuʻu (likely cholera) infected King Kamehameha and many of his troops, killing thousands. Many of Kamehameha’s warriors died from the disease. Among them was Keʻeaumoku on March 21, 1804. [4]


He married Nāmāhānaʻi Kaleleokalani, the widow queen of Kamehamehanui Ailuau, the late king of Maui. Namahana's brother, King Kahekili II, who was King of Maui, was displeased that Namahana had taken Keʻeaumoku for her husband, and he became Keʻeaumoku's enemy. The people, including Namahana, stood in great fear of him, so she hid their first-born child in a cave at Hāna, on Maui, at the very foot of the old battle hill, Kauiki. This child was Kaʻahumanu who would one day be the most powerful woman in the Hawaiian Kingdom. He married his daughter to Kamehameha when she was only 13 year of age and she soon became Kamehameha's favourite wife. He and Namahana gave birth to two other daughters Kaheiheimālie and Namahana Piʻia who also married Kamehameha. His eldest son, also named Keʻeaumoku, served as Governor of Maui under the name George Cox Keʻeaumoku, and his youngest son John Adams Kuakini served as Governor of Hawaiʻi Island and Oahu. He and his children were a most influential family of Hawaii in the beginning days of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Keʻeaumoku's great-grandsons Kamehameha IV, Kamehameha V and Lunalilo ruled Hawaii from 1855 to 1874.


  1. ^ a b Stewart, Charles Samuel; Ellis, William (1828). Journal of a Residence in the Sandwich Islands, During the Years 1823, 1824, and 1825. Vol. II (3rd ed.). New York: John P. Haven. pp. 44–45.
  2. ^ "The Hawaiian Coat of Arms". Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  3. ^ Stephen L. Desha (2000). Kamehameha and his warrior Kekūhaupiʻo (Moolelo kaao no Kuhaupio ke koa kaulana o ke au o Kamehameha ka Nui). Translated by Frances N. Frazier (Revised ed.). Honolulu: Kamehameha Schools Press. ISBN  0-87336-056-7.
  4. ^ a b "Hawaiian Encyclopedia : Part 1: Complete Timeline of Hawaiian History". Retrieved 2021-06-08.{{ cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status ( link)
  5. ^ Speakman, Cummins & Hackler, Rhoda (1989). "Vancouver in Hawai'i". Hawaiian Journal of History. Vol. 23. Hawaii Historical Society. pp. 31–65. hdl: 10524/121.
Preceded by
new creation
Commander in chief
Kingdom of Hawaii

c. 1782 – c. 1795
Succeeded by
Preceded by
new creation
Governor of Maui
Succeeded by