Life and family
Born in the early 19th-century, her parents were Pauwelua and Kaluai. Both parents were from aliʻi (noble) lines of descent. Her mother Kaluai was descended from the high chiefs of Waimea, Hawaii. From her father's family descent, she was a great-granddaughter of Keōua Kalanikupuapaʻīkalaninui Ahilapalapa, the father of King Kamehameha I who was the progenitor the House of Kamehameha and the unifier of the Hawaiian Islands. Her father Pauwelua descended from Keōua's last wife Akahi-a-Kawalu (her great-grandmother and namesake), who became the mother of Kaleiwohi who married Kailipakalua and had Pauwelua. Through the Keōua line, according to Elizabeth Kekaʻaniau, "Akahi was the third cousin of Bernice Pauahi Bishop and the second cousin of Kekaʻaniau herself." Akahi was also the cousin of Pauahi's mother Kōnia through their common grandmother Kailipakalua. In her final will, Pauahi called Akahi her aunt and historian George Kanahele also called her Pauahi's aunt.
ʻAkahi's first known marriage was to High Chief Kahekili Keʻeaumoku II, a brother of the Kuhina Nui, Queen Kaʻahumanu. He was also the Governor of Maui and commonly known by foreigners as "Governor Cox". After Keʻeaumoku's death in 1824, ʻAkahi married Prime Minister William Pit Kalanimoku, on June 28, 1825. This date was recorded in the journal of Spanish settler Don Francisco de Paula Marín while American missionary Reverend
Samuel Ruggle claimed the marriage took place the year before. The marriage ceremony was held at the Kawaiahaʻo Church and attended by the a number of chiefs and foreign residents. Kalanimoku, who chose his Western name in honor of his English contemporary William Pitt the Younger, was known for his political savvy and military prowess and had served as Prime Minister under the reigns of three Hawaiian kings and the regency of Kaʻahumanu. ʻAkahi became a widow for the second time when he died February 7, 1827. Her final husband was J. W. Kapaa, who outlived her and died in Honolulu on March 3, 1890.
Very few details survived about ʻAkahi's life. On September 28, 1840, American Protestant missionary Reverend
Cochran Forbes complained about her adherence to the Roman Catholic faith. Forbes wrote in his journal, "Akahi the head woman of Kealia with her husband is pleased with popery, because they do not require holiness of life as a test of communion. She will probably become a papist as she is unwilling to abandon her lusts." Her former husband Kalanimoku had also been baptized a Roman Catholic but later joined the Protestant church. In 1841, she was noted as the "chief woman" in Kealakekua, Hawaii and in 1845, she made a deposition in the case of Richard Charlton. She seemed to have resided exclusively on the island of Hawaii with occasional trips to Honolulu.