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ISLAND HISTORY: Deborah Kapule, Kauai’s last Queen

An ali‘i, Kekaiha‘akulou (Deborah Kapule’s Hawaiian name) was born about 1798 on Kaua‘i, likely at Waimea, her parents being the high chief Ha‘upu and the chiefess Ha‘ea.

A great beauty in her youth, she married Kaumuali‘i, the last king of Kaua‘i, sometime between 1815 and 1820, and thus became the queen of Kaua‘i as well as Kaumuali‘i’s favorite wife.

Deborah’s reign as queen was short-lived, however, for in 1821, Liholiho (Kamehameha II) invited Kaumuali‘i aboard his ship, the Pride of Hawai‘i, anchored in Waimea Bay, and spirited him off to Honolulu, where he became a prisoner of state.

Deborah carried on thereafter, living in a neat, white cottage in Waimea, and became one of the first of her people to be taught reading and writing by missionaries.

She also maintained a school with two teachers and 50 students.

Then in 1824, she married Simeon Ka‘iu, a half-brother of Kaumuali‘i.

Eleven years later, in 1835, Deborah, Simeon, and 16 members of the Waimea Church congregation moved to Wailua to build a new branch church on land where the Coco Palms Hotel would later stand.

Simeon then died suddenly, and Kaua‘i Gov. Kaikioewa, who’d been jealous of the allegiance Kaua‘i’s people held for Deborah, banished her to Honolulu, where she lived in poverty.

But, by 1838, she’d returned to Kaua‘i by the efforts of the Rev. William Richards in having secured her release from O‘ahu and having restored her property with the assistance of King Kamehameha Ill.

During the late 1830s, and at least until the end of 1840, Deborah lived with her friend, Oliver Chapin, in a great thatched house, enclosed by a stake fence, also situated on the future Coco Palms property.

For many years, well into the 1840s, this house was a natural stopping place for travelers, where they were welcomed by Deborah.

By her house lay taro patches, walled fish ponds and pastures.

And, across the river, the Malae He‘iau had been converted by her into cattle pens.

Deborah also helped build the historic coral-block church in Waimea in the early 1850s, which still stands.

She died at Waimea, Kaua‘i on Aug. 26, 1853.
Source: The Garden Island

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