Boy’s Book Fit For A King — Kamehameha, To Be Exact

Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - June 23, 2010
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Kekaulele and Aaron Kawai’ae’a. Photo from the Kawai’ae’a ohana.

Kamehameha Day marked a special accomplishment for Kamehameha fifth-grader and Aiea resident Kekauelelenae’ole Kawai’ae’a.

What started as his second-grade assignment to research his Hawaiian name developed over the past two years into a hardcover release of the book Kohala Kuamo’o: Nae’ole’s Race To Save A King by KS Publishing.

“I talked to my grandpa (Walter Kawai’ae’a) and he told me about my name and that’s how the story came about,” said Kekaulele. “He told me the story many times, but now that I’m older I really got to comprehend and really know what he was talking about.”

Penned in English and Hawaiian, the book tells of Kamehameha the Great, the chief who united the Hawaiian Islands in 1810 with the help of Nae’ole, the chief of Kohala.


As the story goes, during Kamehameha’s mother’s pregnancy it was prophesied that the baby would become a great warrior and leader, which made him a serious threat to then-ruling chief Alapa’i, who ordered the baby killed upon his birth.

Nae’ole protected the newborn and allowed him to mature and fulfill the prophecies.

But beyond the story is another component that connects the book even closer to the Kawai’ae’a ohana - Kekaulele’s dad and professional artist, Aaron, is the illustrator.

“I’ve been doing art forever,” said Aaron. ” I do paintings, but in the back of my mind I always thought it would be cool to do a children’s book. But it never really panned out because I didn’t have an author. After reading some of Kekaulele’s writing assignments, I could-n’t believe how well he wrote. I instantly knew that he had talent and told him that I’d help him illustrate.”

Kekaulele was encouraged by his family and teacher to further develop his story for Golden Pencils, Kamehameha Schools’ publishing company for students to sell their work as a fundraiser for homeless shelters, native Hawaiian charter schools and for purchasing phone cards for soldiers in Iraq.

“We took it to Anna Sumida, and she said it was beyond what she does. She had us take it to KS Publishing, and it all started from there,” said Kekaulele. “We actually did it as a project for the family, but lucky for us it was published. I’m very proud and very grateful.”

The father-son team already is working on book No. 2, which Dad says will highlight more of Kekaulele’s creative writing skills.

“This next book, Kekaulele actually started writing it before he did the Kohala Kuamo’o story,” said Aaron. “I’m going to do a completely different style of art and take it to another level.”

The proud dad, however, doesn’t take any credit for Kekaulele’s writing talent. Instead he credit’s mom Tish Hanakahi.

“His mom is an avid reader and those two just read constantly,” said Aaron. “She’s extremely intelligent and she’s always pushed that, so he definitely gets that from her. And because of the reading, the writing just kinda came. I don’t even need to encourage it, he just does it on his own.”

Kohala Kuamo’o: Nae’ole’s Race To Save A King sells for $16 and can be purchased at local bookstores or at

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