Curtis Piehu Iaukea

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Colonel Curtis Piʻehu Iʻaukea was a prominent official and diplomat of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, attending events such as the 1883 coronation of Tsar Alexander II and the 1887 Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary. He is sometimes cited as the second Hawaiian to ever circumnavigate the globe, King Kalakaua being the first in 1881,[1] but Kalakaua was accompanied by Charles H. Judd, William N. Armstrong, and a personal valet, making Iʻaukea perhaps the fifth (still a very noteworthy distinction).

Following his time in Moscow and St. Petersburg as envoy to the tsar's coronation, Iʻaukea traveled to Berlin, Vienna, Belgrade, London, and Rome, before turning back east and visiting India and Japan on his way home to Hawaiʻi. During his brief time in Japan in 1884,[2] and in written correspondences afterward, he played a prominent role in negotiations with Japanese Foreign Minister Inoue Kaoru and others regarding Japanese immigration to Hawaii.

He later became an official in the Territorial government, and was Acting Governor of the Territory of Hawaii in 1920, at the time of the largest plantation strikes to take place prior to World War II. Iaukea expressed his distaste for the plantation owners at that time, and especially his suspicion of their calls for US military support, knowing that it was members of that same community who, in a not dissimilar manner, engineered the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the 1890s. That said, he also spoke to the Japanese community, pressing them to find a way to clear themselves of suspicion of anti-American attitudes and of schemes to take over the islands.[3]


  • Schweizer, Niklaus R. “King Kalakaua: An International Perspective,” Hawaiian Journal of History 25 (1991), 112.
  1. Sydney L. Iaukea, "Camera Ready," in Aloys N.M. Fleischmann et al (eds.), Narratives of Citizenship: Indigenous and Diasporic Peoples Unsettle the Nation-State, University of Alberta (2012), 230n15.
  2. Franklin Odo and Kazuko Sinoto, A Pictorial History of the Japanese in Hawaii 1885-1924, Bishop Museum (1985), 17.
  3. Odo and Sinoto, 202-203.