Kalama (c. 1820–1870)

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Kalama (c. 1820–1870)

Hawaiian queen who was the wife of Kamehameha III . Name variations: also known as Hakaleleponi Kapakuhaili. Born at Kaelehuluhulu, near Kailua, in the district of Kona, Hawaii, around 1829; died on September 20, 1870; daughter of a naval officer known as Captain Jack the Pilot; married Kauikeaouli (1814–1854), later known as Kamehameha III, king of Hawaii (r. 1824–1854), in February 1837; children: Keaweaweula I and Keaweaweula II, both of whom died in infancy; (adopted son) Alexander Liholiho (1834–1863), later known as Kamehameha IV, king of Hawaii (r. 1855–1863).

The daughter of a naval officer, known only as Captain Jack the Pilot, who was in the small navy of Kamehameha I, Queen Kalama had a decidedly humble background. Little is known of her life before her marriage to Kamehameha III in February 1837, which was recorded by Laura Fish Judd , a missionary's wife who was a friend of court. "The King is married to his favorite Kalama, a very sprightly young girl," Judd wrote in her memoirs. The royal couple had two children, both of whom died in infancy, but they later adopted a son, Alexander Liholiho, who became Kamehameha IV. According to Judd, the young queen "had few advantages of improvement" and needed assistance in managing her household. Judd also noted that there was some friction in court over Kalama's lack of aristocratic blood. "The old premier, Kekauluohi [1794–1845], was a little jealous of the Queen, being her superior by birth, and when I made purchases for them, I was

always obliged to allow the old lady her first choice. She always wanted her sash a little longer and her bows a little larger than the Queen's." Kalama, who was praised for her beauty and ladylike demeanor, also possessed a charitable nature. Steen Bille, a royal visitor, found her "a most excellent, pious and benevolent lady, passing the greater part of her time in preparing feather ornaments or sewing dresses for the poor; she is said to be an expert with her needle."

When the king died in 1854, Kalama retired from court and divided her time between her residence "Haimoeipo," near the State Capitol, and another home in Nuuanu Valley. Having attained considerable business acumen through the years, she established a sugar plantation on several hundreds of acres of land she owned at Kaneohe and skillfully turned the venture into a successful operation. Through careful management of her assets, she became a wealthy woman and, at the time of her death in 1870, owned over 22,000 acres of land on Oahu. She was laid to rest beside her husband in the Royal Mausoleum.


Peterson, Barbara Bennett. Notable Women of Hawaii. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 1984.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts