< Back

Curtis Iaukea

Curtis Piehu Iaukea was born in Waimea, Hawaii on December 13, 1855 to J. W. and Lahapa (Nalanipo) Iaukea. At a young age Iaukea was adopted by his uncle Kaihupa’a, a royal retainer to King Kamehameha III, who raised Iaukea to follow in his footsteps as a retainer. Being under the care of Kaihupa’a, Iaukea lived near the palace grounds and grew up among the royal family. Iaukea’s education, which was sponsored by King Kamehameha IV, allowed him to attend St. Alban’s college, predecessor to Iolani School, and an Anglican school in Lahaina. In 1870 Iaukea returned to Honolulu and worked as a steward on Kamehameha V’s staff. Iaukea was one on the students in Kalakaua's lua school that was established in Honolulu, to perpetuate the ancient art of lua. In 1872 Iaukea was sent to Maui to work at West Maui Sugar Plantation. However when Kamehameha V died five months later, Iaukea returned to the island of Hawaii In 1874, at the request of King Kalakaua, Iaukea returned to Iolani Palace in Honolulu and resumed his service to the monarchy. Iaukea began as a personal aide to Prince Leleiohoku, then a year later received a commission as Captain in the Prince’s Own Corps., followed by numerous other positions in the following years as stated below in the Historical/Biographical Chronology section. During this time, Iaukea met Charlotte Kahaloipua Hanks, daughter of Akini Tai Hoon and Frederick Leslie Hanks. They married on April 7th, 1877 in Honolulu and had 2 children, Frederick Hanks Nalaniahi and Lorna Kahilipuaokalani. After the death of King Kalakaua in 1891, Iaukea continued to work for the Kingdom under Queen Liliuokalani. Witnessing the overthrow in 1893, Iaukea’s various governmental roles from secretary in the Foreign Office to acting Governor, allowed him to be a part of history, serving during the Kingdom, Provisional, Republic and Territorial governments. Iaukea’s travels took him to several countries, including organizing the Hawaiian legation to Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1897 and accompanying President Dole and his wife to Washington D. C. as secretary and military attaché in 1898. Iaukea received several decorations from foreign dignitaries as well as Hawaiian orders and decorations from King Kalakaua. With the end of the monarchy in 1893, Iaukea became Liliuokalani’s business agent and managing trustee of the Liliuokalani Trust from 1909 to 1923. During this time, there were numerous disputes related to Liliuokalani’s trust, which was created in 1909. A major dispute included Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, who brought a suit against the trustees concerning Liliuokalani’s will. There were also allegations of her competency and complaints about how her estate would be handled after her death. Kalanianaole’s lawsuit ended in 1918 after an outof-court settlement was reached. Liliuokalani’s will was not admitted to probate until 1923, six years after her death. With the passing of Liliuokalani in 1917, Iaukea remained in government serving as Secretary of Hawaii from 1917 to 1921, then chairman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission from 1933 to 1935, and a member of the Archives Commission from 1937 until 1940. Iaukea also published articles and essays during his career and up unto the time of his death.