MARCH 5, 1847


Born near Honolulu, O’ahu, Emma was daughter of a chiefess and granddaughter of legendary Kalanikūpule.  She attended Mills’ Seminary for Young Ladies in Benicia, California, and was tutored by her father in six languages, including Hawaiian.  Emma married twice: First, in 1867, to Frederick Beckley who died in 1881.  They had 7 children.  In 1887, she married Reverend Moses Keaea Nakuina.  In 1875, King Kalākaua named her the first curator of the Hawai’i National Museum.   Under Kamehameha IV, she studied and became an authority on ancient Hawaiian water rights laws.  In 1892, she became Commissioner of Private Ways and Water Rights for Oah’u’s Kona District.  Her article Ancient Hawaiian Water Rights and Some Customs Pertaining to Them, is considered a primary source.  She also wrote on Hawaiian folklore, publishing Hawai’i: Its People and Their Legends in 1904.  Nakuina died on April 27, 1929.  She is deemed one of the most influential women in Hawaiian history.

Source:  Peter T. Young, “Emma Kaili Metcalf Beckley Nakuina,” Images of Old Hawai’i, 3/5/2017.  Retrieved 6/10/2019,
Photo:  Hawaii State Archives, circa 1904.  Public Domain in U.S.:  Pre 1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 70 years or less.

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