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The city of Kailua-Kona was first established in 1812 by King Kamehameha I of Hawaii to serve as his seat of government. This king, originally just the ruler of Kona, unified many of the Hawaiian islands through years of armed conflict and needed a central location from which to govern, his home of Kona being a natural choice. In this way, Kailua-Kona became the capitol of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Later it would be replaced by Lahaina and eventually Honululu, which is still Hawaii's capitol today.
During King Kamehameha's lifetime, Kailua-Kona grew to become a large royal compound with homes for his wives and children and his children's own families. The city became known as a royal retreat because of its beauty. When the first Christian missionaries arrived in Kailua-Kona in the 1820's, shortly after King Kamehameha's death, the islands were in political chaos. The missionaries built churches for the native Hawaiians to attend, but relations remained largely peaceful. One of Hawaii's oldest churches can still be visited today in Kailua-Kona.
The best place to get information on Kona's history is at The Kona Historical Society in Kealakekua. Their living history programs: HN Greenwell Store Museum, the Kona Coffee Living History Farm and Portuguese Bread Baking give a hands-on history lesson from the 1880's through the 1930's. Those interested in more information should visit their website www.konahistorical.org or call 808-323-3222.