$100M will be left for Native Hawaiian causes from the estate of an heiress considered last princess

$100M will be left for Native Hawaiian causes from the estate of an heiress considered last princess

In her lifetime, Abigail Kawānanakoa, seen by many as a Hawaiian princess due to her royal lineage, embodied the complexities of Hawaii’s history. Her legacy, shaped by her great-grandfather’s sugar plantation wealth and the impact of Western influence on traditional Hawaiian life, extends beyond her death at 96. A recent court settlement, following a year of posthumous battles over her estate, reveals that, after significant allocations to individuals, including housekeepers, long-term employees, and her wife, there remains at least $100 million to support Native Hawaiian causes.

Kawānanakoa, deeply committed to advancing Hawaiian culture, held a pivotal role as the last trustee of the “alii” trusts, established by royalty to benefit Native Hawaiians. Dr. Naleen Naupaka Andrade, from The Queen’s Health System, emphasizes the importance of these trusts in supplementing federal and state contributions for the well-being of Hawaii’s Indigenous people.

A noteworthy aspect of the settlement is the establishment of Kawānanakoa’s trust to perpetuate Native Hawaiian culture and language, with a current valuation exceeding $250 million. Among the disbursements, $40 million is allocated to her wife, while settlements have been reached with several others, including a person identified as her “hanai” son, denoting an informal adoption in Hawaiian culture.

Legal disputes over Kawānanakoa’s estate began in 2017 after a stroke, culminating in a 2020 ruling that confirmed her impairment. The estate, now overseen by a trustee, reflects her inheritance as the great-granddaughter of James Campbell, a prominent sugar plantation owner. Despite holding no formal title, Kawānanakoa served as a living connection to Hawaii’s monarchy and symbolized Hawaiian identity.

Heiress known as last Hawaiian princess mired in legal fight

Kawānanakoa’s philanthropy supported various causes, from scholarships to opposing the construction of a telescope on Mauna Kea. Her trust continues to contribute to Hawaiian-focused schools, cultural events at ‘Iolani Palace, and other initiatives. The foundation established in 2001, per her wishes, aims to preserve traditional Hawaiian culture predating European contact in 1778.

As the estate settlement finalizes, concerns about the foundation’s future echo, emphasizing the enduring impact Kawānanakoa sought to make in preserving and fostering the rich cultural heritage of the Hawaiian people.

Lisa Carter

Hi, I'm Lisa, a seasoned software engineer and technology enthusiast dedicated to demystifying complex technical concepts and bringing innovative solutions to the forefront. With a Master's degree in Computer Science from MIT, I have honed a deep understanding of cutting-edge technologies and their practical applications.

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