By Ivy Rivera
Nahi'ena'ena was born in the year 1815, the exact date isn't known. At her birth Nahi'ena'ena wasn't given the guardianship of another chief. Defying the customs of the time, her mother, Keopuolani, kept her infant daughter by her side. Nahi'ena'ena grew up constantly aware about her high ranking in a changing Hawaii. This was a source of her conflicted life.
In 1819 her father, Kamehameha (The Lonely One) died, and her half-brother Liholiho came to the throne as Kamehameha II. Some months later after his accession, he ordered that the old gods be destroyed and the kapus aborted. His actions made the old Hawaiian life easier. In 1820, a few months after breaking the Kapu System, the first missionaries arrived from New England. Nahi'ena'ena's mother quickly saw the advantages of writing and reading, and entrusted her daughter Nahi'ena'ena, and her son, Kauikeaouli to mission training. Nahi'ena'ena learned rapidly.
Nahi'ena'ena lived in a divided life, she lived in Hawaiian royal traditions, and also lived in Christian ways of life. The problem of her marriage lay at the heart of a struggle with her divided life. In the minds of the chiefs there was one suitable husband for her,... her brother Kauikeaouli. The missionaries were shocked at the prospect of such an incestuous union. However, Nahi'ena'ena and Kauikeaouli assumed that they would be united; they had been close from the earliest days, and furthermore,... they were devoted to each other.
In January 1827 she was baptized and admitted to the church. She made a continual examination of the state of her soul, which was difficult for the Hawaiian princess. It was particularly difficult after her visits to the court in Honolulu. Liholiho, Kamehameha II, died in London with his Queen, Queen Kamamalu. Kauikeaouli had become the "boy king", Kamehameha III. This meant that the princess was often summoned to share with her brother in festivities and court occasions. With each summons from her king brother the missionaries in Lahaina were alert, especially about the possibility of a royal union. The princess herself seemed to have understood her predicament. She said on some days her thoughts were on God and on other days she was ensnared with thoughts of her brother.
In 1834 the king and his sister finally defied the mission and the Christian chiefs, and married in the old Hawaiian ways. In 1836 she was married by the Reverend William Richards to the young chief Leleiohoku ( Kalakaua and Lili'uokalani's younger brother).
The last years of her life were one of illness and dejection. She gave birth to a son on September 1836. The baby lived for only a few hours. Nahi'ena'ena never recovered from child birth. She died on December 30, 1836. Her death is reported to have had a sobering affect on her brother, the King. He turned from dissolute ways to concern for welfare of his kingdom.