HONOLULU -- Few individuals in Hawai'i's history have been as influential in the lives of contemporary Native Hawaiians as Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole.

Born March 26, 1871, on the island of Kaua'i, Prince Kuhio was the great-grandson of Kaumuali'i, the last reigning king of Kaua'i.

When his father and mother died in 1880 and 1884, respectively, the young prince was adopted by reigning monarchs King David Kalakaua and his wife, Queen Victoria Kapi'olani.

After King Kalakaua passed in 1891, his sister, Lydia Lili'uokalani, ascended to the throne. Less than two years later, on Jan. 17, 1893, the queen would yield her authority to the United States.

Before she was deposed from the throne, Queen Lili'uokalani had named Kuhio her heir, and upon the queen's death in 1917, Kuhio became the last person who, upon birth and designation of a sitting monarch, could claim the throne of the Hawaiian monarchy.

Although by this time the Kingdom of Hawai'i no longer controlled the Islands, Kuhio's commitment to the people of Hawai'i remained resolute.

He was highly educated, having attended exclusive schools on O'ahu, including the Royal School and Punahou School. He also attended a private Episcopal military school for four years in California.

Kuhio would ultimately finish business school in England and, upon returning to Hawai'i, delved into politics.

He joined the Republican Party in Hawai'i in 1901 and two years later won a seat in the U.S. Congress representing the Territory of Hawai'i, a position which he would retain until his death in 1922.

The prince committed his years of public service to the betterment of the Hawaiian people. He was instrumental in the restoration of the Royal Benevolent Societies and in the establishment of the Hawaiian Civic Clubs, institutions that continue to serve Native Hawaiians today.

In Washington D.C., Kuhio introduced the first Hawai'i Statehood Act in 1919. He advocated for the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, which secured approximately 200,000 acres of land in Hawai'i for the homesteading of Native Hawaiians.

The law passed in 1921 and today continues to support housing and other benefits for Native Hawaiians.

Today, his legacy is celebrated and remembered across Hawai'i every March.

Prince Day celebrations

The State of Hawai'i celebrates Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole and his legacy with various festivals and events open to the public held throughout the month of March.

Celebrations on O'ahu began with the Holoku Ball, March 2, the signature event of the Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu, the original civic club formed by Prince Kuhio in 1918, where leaders in the Hawaiian community are honored for their service to the betterment of Native Hawaiians.

Other festivities include these:

•Kapolei Prince Kuhio Ho'olaule'a -- Featuring local entertainment, food and vendors' booths, Hawaiian craft demonstrations and makahiki games, as well as on-site health screenings for diabetes and blood pressure, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., March 9, at the Prince Kuhio Community Center in Kapolei.
Call 291-0842 or 861-1874.

•The 11th annual Prince Kuhio Commemorative Parade -- A unique parade for malihini (visitors) and kama'aina (locals) alike, 10 a.m.-noon, March 23, from Saratoga/Kalakaua Avenue to Kapi'olani Park in Waikiki.

•Prince Kuhio Ho'olaule'a and Ho'ike'ike -- Features Hawaiian arts and crafts, exhibits by various Native Hawaiian organizations and businesses, and wonderful food, Hawaiian music and entertainment, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., March 23, at Kapi'olani Park, the large park in named for Kuhio's adopted mother, Queen Kapi'olani.

•Prince Kuhio Choral Concert -- A rare performance of Hawaiian a cappella, featuring groups such as Kawaiolaonapukanileo (Hawaiian Vocal Ensemble), Hawai'i Youth Opera Chorus, UH Manoa Hawaiian Chorus and the Kawaiaha'o Church Choir, 7-8:30 p.m., March 23, at Kawaiaha'o Church.
The day begins with the Ke Ahe Lau Makani Hawaiian Choral Music Festival, with choral singing in the church sanctuary, 2:30-4:30 p.m., as well as a picnic at 5:30 p.m., for a fee.
Contact Phil Hidalgo at kawaiola-mail@hawaii.rr.com.

•Ali'i Sunday -- Sunday services in honor of Prince Kuhio, 8:30-10 a.m., March 24, at Kawaiaha'o Church. Email Whaole54@gmail.com.

The month of activities concludes March 26, the state holiday honoring the prince's birthday, with a lei draping ceremony, 7:30 a.m., at the Prince Kuhio Statue in Waikiki. Following is a free event at Mauna'ala, the Royal Mausoleum, remembering Kuhio's life and the impact he has had on the Native Hawaiian community.

March Classes

The Native Hawaiian Liaison Office has announced its lineup of classes and workshops offered to Soldiers and families during the month of March. For times and locations, visit www.hawaiianliaison.com.