On Saturday, October 21, 2023, descendants of Kaleohano gathered to dedicate a special memorial to Kaleohano and recognize his life of leadership and faith in Jesus Christ. The historical marker was placed near his burial site behind the grounds of the Laie Hawaii Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Eleven years ago, Leimomi Miyahana, a Laie resident and descendent of Kaleohano, received a phone call from a former co-worker of Laie Elementary School, Donnette AhPuck. One day, AhPuck and her husband were trekking behind the temple grounds when they came across several unmarked grave sites. Upon encountering the graves, they could make out a legible engraving that read, "Kaleohano" across one of the cement slabs. Immediately after their discovery, she called Miyahana to inform her of where her ancestor's grave was. Miyahana knew it was now their family's responsibility to maintain the gravesites with hopes that one day, they could better honor Kaleohano's legacy.
Kaleohano was born in 1831 in Pulehu, Maui. His family were ali’i, or part of the traditional Hawaiian nobility. When he was a child, Protestant missionaries visited their island, and his family converted to Christianity. Afterward, he was sent to the missionary school and then proceeded on to attend Lahianaluna High School, where he received a Western education. In 1851, Kaleohano visited relative Jonathan Napela and classmate W.H. Uaua in Iao Valley on Maui. It was here they met the first Latter-day Saint missionary they had ever seen, Elder George Q. Cannon.
For two days, they listened to Elder Cannon's message. They found a mea hou, or a new thing, in the principles he shared with them. Intrigued by the idea that God had appeared to man in modern times and spoke through a living prophet, a spark was struck in Kaleohano's heart, one he could not extinguish. Shortly, that spark came to burn as a fire in his bosom, and within weeks of his meeting Elder Cannon, Kaleohano was baptized a member of The Church and remained faithful and diligent in serving others for the remainder of his life.
As the Church grew, Kaleohano’s family came to Oahu alongside other members to establish an agricultural community in Laie. Here, he and his wife, Kaahanui, hosted newly arrived missionaries and taught them Hawaiian. Joseph F. Smith, who later became a Prophet of the Church, was one of the earlier missionaries to stay in his home—marking the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
Kaleohano was known by many for the faith-filled acts of service he performed throughout his life. He helped organize and direct choirs for Church conferences and community events, administered a priesthood blessing to King Kamehameha V, repeatedly hosted other Hawaiian Royalty when visiting Laie, and performed countless acts of charity.
Additionally, he served numerous missions throughout Hawaii and became a prominent leader in the Laie community. Kaleohano was a Hawaiian Chief, pioneer, missionary, and leader in the Church. He was one of the first converts of missionary George Q. Cannon and helped to teach Elder Cannon the Hawaiian language. His ancestors look to him today for his example of faith and dedication to the Savior Jesus Christ.
During his remarks at the dedication, President John S.K. Kauwe III, fourth great-grandson of Kaleohano, shared how this monumental moment resulted from the family's collective and tireless efforts to preserve and commemorate these burial sites.
Commenting on the special occasion, President Kauwe shared, "Kaleohano left a legacy of faith, service, and love. We are so grateful to be able to acknowledge that legacy with this memorial. Gathering together as a family to dedicate this memorial was a joyful experience. I am so thankful to know that his story will be told here for generations. It was a great honor to have participated in the process.”
Laie is known to be a place of refuge, peace, and faith. Thanks to men and women like Kaleohano, the community now shares the blessings of the early Saint's devotion. His treasured legacy continues to enrich the community, connecting the past with the present and inspiring future generations. For those interested in visiting the memorial, it can be found in an area that is adjacent to the Laie Pioneer Cemetery, located behind the Laie Hawaii Temple. The site is outside the South-Eastern perimeter fence of the cemetery.