William Luther Moehonua

William Luther Kealiʻi Moehonua (1824–1878) was a native Hawaiian noble and politician in the Kingdom of Hawaii.

William Luther Moehonua
Photo of William Luther Moehonua, circa. 1878
Ministry of the Interior
In office
October 31, 1874  December 5, 1876
Preceded byWilliam L. Green
Succeeded byJohn Mott-Smith
Governor of Maui
In office
December 15, 1876  September 8, 1878
DeputyAbraham Fornander
Preceded byJohn Mākini Kapena
Succeeded byJohn Owen Dominis
Personal details
William Luther Kealiʻi Moehonua

(1824-05-05)May 5, 1824
Mokulēʻia, Waialua district, Kingdom of Hawaiʻi
DiedSeptember 8, 1878(1878-09-08) (aged 54)
Honolulu, Kingdom of Hawaiʻi
NationalityKingdom of Hawaii
Lucy Muolo
Kapeka Kahele


William Luther Moehonua was born May 5, 1824, in Mokulēʻia. His mother was Mary Napuaelua. There is some dispute about his father. Some sources give it as Chief Keaweamahi.[1] Others say his father was ʻAikanaka (1790–1868), who had slept with his mother about the same time.[2] Around 1848 he married Kaunuohua, a noble who was attendant to King Kamehameha IV. On September 11, 1849 he married Lucy Muolo who died in 1865, and remarried to Kapeka Kahele in 1875. His probable half-sister Analea Keohokālole became a civil leader in her own right.[3]

On February 6, 1873 Moehonua was given the rank of Major in the royal guard of King Lunalilo. On September 10, 1873, Moehonua was put in command of ʻIolani Barracks after a mutiny against their Hungarian-born commander.[4] He was elected to the Legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom of 1874 as a representative for Oʻahu island.[5]

Lunalilo died after reigning for only one year without naming an heir, so the legislature according to the constitution was to elect a new king. Moehonua and Samuel Gardner Wilder counted the ballots and announced the results. The winner was Kalākaua, who was probably a nephew since Kalākaua's grandfather ʻAikanaka was (probably) Moehonua's father. Moehonua was injured when his carriage was torn apart in the protests that followed, since Queen Emma of Hawaii was favored by the Hawaiian people.[6] On April 27, 1874 he was promoted to rank of Colonel. On October 31, 1874 he was appointed minister of the interior, until December 5, 1876 when he was replaced by John Mott-Smith. He became commissioner of the crown lands November 20, 1875.[5]

On December 15, 1876 Moehonua was appointed Royal Governor of Maui. On April 15, 1878 he was appointed to the upper House of Nobles of the legislature.[5] He died September 8, 1878.[7] He was replaced as Maui governor by John Owen Dominis, who was married to Lydia Kamakaeha, later Queen Liliʻuokalani. He was granted much land for his service, although some had to be sold to satisfy his debts by executor Charles T. Gulick.[8] He probably had at least one child: Kalākaua filed a lawsuit which reached the supreme court in 1883, claiming some land that G. W. Keaweamahi had inherited from Moehonua. The court ruled against the king.[9]

In her autobiography, Liliʻuokalani, who may have been unaware or indifferent, downplays his family background, not mentioning if they were related:

He was a most estimable man, far superior to many of a corresponding rank, which was not of the highest; yet he was a good specimen of the Hawaiian race, of noble birth and patriotic sentiments.[10]


  1. Edith Kawelohea, McKinzie, Ishmael W. Stagner, eds. (February 1986). Hawaiian genealogies: extracted from Hawaiian language newspaper s. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 59–60. ISBN 978-0-939154-37-1.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link) translation from Hawaiian language newspaper article "Ka Make Ana o ka Mea Hanohano William Lutera Moehonua", in Ka Elele Poakolu September 14, 1878
  2. Henry Soszynski. "Aikanaka". rootsweb on Ancestry.com. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
  3. "Keohokalole, A. office record". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
  4. Ralph Simpson Kuykendall (1953). Hawaiian Kingdom 1854-1874, twenty critical years. 2. University of Hawaii Press. p. 260. ISBN 978-0-87022-432-4.
  5. "Moehonua, WIlliam Luther office record". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
  6. Jean Dabagh (1974). "King is Elected: One Hundred Years Ago". Hawaiian Journal of History. 8. Hawaii Historical Society. pp. 76–89. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
  7. "William Luther Moehonua died Sept 8 1878". The Pacific Commercial Advertiser. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  8. "Administrator's Sale". The Hawaiian Gazette. Honolulu. March 3, 1880. p. 3. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
  9. Hawaii Supreme Court (1883). "His Majesty Kalakaua and Her Majesty Kapiolani vs. G. W. Keaweamahi et al.". Reports of decisions rendered by the Supreme Court of the Hawaiian Islands. H.L. Sheldon. pp. 571–583.
  10. Liliʻuokalani (Queen of Hawaii) (July 25, 2007) [1898]. Hawaii's story by Hawaii's queen, Liliuokalani. Lee and Shepard, reprinted by Kessinger Publishing. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-548-22265-2.
Government offices
Preceded by
William L. Green
Kingdom of Hawaii Minister of Interior
Succeeded by
John Mott-Smith
Preceded by
John Mākini Kapena
Royal Governor of Maui
Succeeded by
John Owen Dominis
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