Boki and Liliha

#155 in the Moʻolelo series

Boki was the son of the chiefs Kekuamanoha and Kamakahukilani of Oahu. He was appointed governor of Oahu by Kamehameha I (Conrad, 2004, 60). His wife Liliha was the daughter of Hoapili kane and the grand daughter of Kalola (Day, 1985, 36). Like Alexander Liholiho and Emma Naʻea Rooke after them, Boki and Liliha were a power couple of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Boki and Liliha (original at Kamehameha Schools, Midkiff Hawaiʻi-Pacific Collection. Source: wikimedia commons)

In 1823, Liholiho sailed to England to finalize an agreement with Great Britain under which Hawaiʻi would become a protectorate of Britain. (This point is actually in contention – see “Helena I Londana: Was Hawaiʻi British?”). Liliha and Boki accompanied them, and among other activities, took in the opera while waiting for an audience with King George IV. Liholiho and his wife Kamamalu died of measles before they could discuss the matters with King George. So on September 11 Boki led the royal party to Winsor Palace to have a discussion with King George. The party discovered that Great Britain had never ratified Kamehamehaʻs cession of Hawaii to Vancouver. Hawaii was still independent. Kamakau relates the sad sequence of events:

Queen Ka-meha-malu died, July 8, 1824, and five days later Liholiho, Kamehameha II, died in London at the age of twenty-six, having ruled four years and some months.‡ Their bodies were sent home on a British warship. Of the company that set out five had died and the Frenchman had returned to France. King George met Boki and Liliha and the four other members of the company who remained. After expressing sorrow for the unfortunate termination of the king’s visit he said, “You must return, and his younger brother shall be king. I shall not interfere in your internal troubles, but I shall guard you from outside invasion just as I did in the time of Kamehameha I.” Kane-hoa interpreted these words to Boki and Liliha, Ke-ku-anaoʻa, Manuia, and Na-ʻai-weuweu. On May 4, 1825, the warship dropped anchor in the waters of Mamala bearing the bodies of those who had sailed away living. The lamentations of the people  rose to the skies. People rolled in the dust to express their love for their young ruler. They looked with admiration at the handsome caskets the like of which had never been seen before in this country, where the chiefs had been put away in basketwork woven of braided cord (kaʻai).

Kamakau, 1992, 257-258.
King George IV

Boki did not like the power Kaahumanu and her missionary advisors had attained.  He became attached to foreigners who were hostile to the mission (Kamakau, 2006, 276). Boki and Liliha became a part of an anti-mission faction. In time Boki and Liliha incurred large debts. Boki attempted to cover their debts by traveling to the New Hebrides (now called Vanuatu) to harvest sandalwood (Kamakau, 1992, 295). Boki never made it back to Oahu. Some new evidence suggests he was not lost at sea, but may have settled on an island in the South Pacific and may even have descendants.

Liholiho, Kamehameha II

Liliha became Governor of Oahu. Kaahumanu had set plans to remove Liliha from office. In response to these plans Liliha bought guns and ammunition and with armed men occupied a fort in Honolulu. Lilihaʻs father persuaded her to remain loyal to Kamehameha III. Eventually Kaahumanu was appointed ruler of Oahu. Liliha spent the rest of her days in Lahaina, Maui. She was later converted to the protestant faith (Day, 1985,  36).

Works Cited

Day, A. G. (1985). History Makers of Hawaii a Biographical Dictionary. Honolulu: Mutual.

Daws, A. G. (2006). Honolulu The First Century. Honolulu: Mutual

Daws, A. G. Shoal of Time A History of the Hawaiian Islands. Honolulu: University ofHawaii.

Kamakau, S. M. (1992). Rulling Chiefs of Hawaii. Honolulu: Kamehameha Schools Press.

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