Kapule, Deborah (c. 1798–1853)

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Kapule, Deborah (c. 1798–1853)

Queen and favorite wife of Kaumualii, believed to be the last king of Kauai and Niihau. Name variations: also known as Haakulou. Born in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii, around 1798; died in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii, on August 26, 1853; daughter of Kahekili, sometimes called Haupu (chief of Waimea, Kauai) and Hawea; married King Kaumualii, around 1815 (died 1824); married Kealiiahonui (a son of Kaumualii), around 1822 (ordered to Honolulu to become the husband of Kaahumanu); married Simeon Kaiu (a judge), in April 1824.

The daughter of Hawea and Kahekili, the chief of Waimea, Deborah Kapule was married in 1815 to Kaumualii, the last king of Kauai and Niihau. Tragedy befell her, however, in 1821, when her husband was kidnapped by King Kamehameha II (Liholiho) and taken to Oahu, where he was forced to become the husband of Kaahumanu , the powerful widow of Kamehameha I. In her husband's absence, the imposing Kapule, who was 6' tall and weighed 300 pounds, became a leading local personality. She married the king's son Kealiiahonui and maintained a school in Waimea that served 50 students. Her new marriage, however, was once more disrupted when Kaahumanu ordered Kealiiahonui to Honolulu to also become her husband. Kapule was married yet a third time in April 1824, to Simeon Kaiu, a devout man who was also a judge.

King Kaumualii's death in 1824 caused great turmoil among the people of Kauai, who were divided into two camps: those who wanted Hawaii to remain part of a united kingdom and a splinter group of rebels who did not. Kapule raised her sword to help defend an attack by the rebels at a fort near Waimea and swayed many to remain loyal to a united Hawaii. Returning to Kauai, she became a Christian and gave birth to a son, Josiah Kaumualii. When her husband Simeon died, she experienced a period of grief and confusion and became involved with a young man who was married to a daughter of Kaumualii by another wife. Her behavior caused her to be excommunicated from the church and dispossessed of her property. For a time, she lived in poverty on the island of Oahu, but with the help of the Reverend William Richards, she was returned to Wailua and some of her property was restored.

By 1847, Kapule was back in the good graces of the missionaries. She built a church at Wailua and helped raise money for the construction of a church at Koloa. The final tragedy of her life was the death of her only child Josiah in 1850. Deborah Kapule died on August 26, 1853, at the age of 55. Her obituary noted that she had been a great influence for good among her people.


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

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts