Pauahi, daughter of Laura Konia and Abner Pākī and great-granddaughter of Kamehameha I, was born on December 19, 1831 in Honolulu when Hawai’i was a sovereign kingdom recognized by the most powerful nations in the world. Foreign ships found the kingdom’s harbors favorable. Hawaiian monarchs and chiefs recognized the need to learn about these visitors. They established the Chief’s Childrenʻs School as an American immersion boarding school. Pauahi enrolled at age 8 and was an exemplary student.
She married Charles Reed Bishop in 1850 and would often be referred to as Bernice Pauahi Bishop or Mrs. Bishop.
Pauahi was the only surviving heiress to the lands and assets of the Kamehameha dynasty. By 1884, her people were greatly reduced in number by introduced foreign diseases. Competing Western powers were a growing, influential presence and the fate of her people was perilous.
Fond of children, but childless herself, she and her husband decided that education would be her legacy to her people. Pauahi died on October 16, 1884. Her Will established the Kamehameha Schools. Her lands and property endowed the Schools.
As she instructs in her Will:
Thirteenth [article]. I give, devise and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate real and personal, whatever situated unto the trustees below named, their heirs and assigns forever, to build upon the following trusts, namely, to erect and maintain in the Hawaiian Islands, two schools, each for boarding and day scholars, one for boys and one for girls, to be known as, and called The Kamehameha Schools…
Charles Reed Bishop was an American born on January 25, 1822 at Glens Falls, New York, U.S.A. He became a citizen of the Kingdom of Hawai’i in 1846. He courted and married Ke Ali’i Pauahi on June 4, 1850.
A businessman, Mr. Bishop founded Hawai’i’s first bank, Bishop & Company. He was involved in many local business ventures. A philanthropist, he was on the Board of Punahou School, women’s seminaries and other schools.
When his wife died in 1884 and her Will established the Kamehameha Schools, he became one of her first Trustees and emphasized her desires to educate her people. He built most of the first Schools buildings, hired and paid teachers and supported Schools programs from his own private funds. He founded the Preparatory Department for orphaned boys under age 12 at the request of the Trustees.
He resigned as president of the Board of Trustees at age 72 to reside permanently in San Francisco, California. Even from afar, Mr. Bishop guided the affairs of the Schools until his death 21 years later. (From the History of the Kamehameha Schools by L.C. Hudson, p. 120, 121.)
The first Schools newspaper, Handicraft, printed Mr. Bishopʻs Founderʻs Day Speech in 1889 entitled, “The Purpose of the School.” He said…We look to those who may be trained in the Kamehameha Schools to honor the memory of the founder and the name of the schools by their good conduct, not only while in school, but in their mature lives as well…