Attorney and Kaua‘i County Clerk John Mahiai Kaneakua (1860-1936) was born on Maui and was educated at Honolulu’s Royal School — an institution whose distinguished alumni include the likes of Queen Lili‘uokalani, Queen Emma, King David Kalakaua, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, King Kamehameha IV, King Kamehameha V, Princess Victoria Kamamalu and King Lunalilo.
After graduating in 1877, Kaneakua studied law while clerking for Judge Edward Preston in Honolulu, and was consequently admitted to practice law in the Kingdom of Hawai‘i in 1884.
From 1886 to 1887 he served as an officer in the Queen’s Own, a volunteer company of the military forces of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
At that time, the Kingdom’s main military force was the King’s Guard, which was reinforced by five volunteer companies — the Honolulu Rifles, the King’s Own, the Queen’s Own, the Prince’s Own and the Leleiohoku Guards.
In June 1893, following the overthrow of Queen Lili‘uokalani on January 17, 1893, Kaneakua was one of 19 members of the Hawaiian Patriotic League that signed a memorial given to U.S. Special Commissioner James Blount, requesting that President Grover Cleveland reinstate Queen Lili‘uokalani to the throne.
Blount had been sent to Hawai‘i by Cleveland to investigate the overthrow and later wrote the Blount Report, which was critical of it.
The memorial reads in part, “ Since the fate of our little kingdom and its inhabitants is in your hands, we do humbly pray that a speedy solution may be reached to avoid impending calamities, and so that we may once more enjoy the blessings of peace, prosperity, and a proper government.”
Kaneakua was appointed Clerk of Kaua‘i County in 1906 and held that office by election until 1934, when he retired.
He was the father of several adopted and natural children with his first wife, Esther Kamakolu, and his second wife, Lucy Cummings.