Tag Archives: Hawaii

Who Was Kamehameha

Kamehameha day

Understanding Kamehameha Day

Sure, it’s a difficult word to wrap around your tongue, but the name of the Hawaiian king who did so much for what is today known as the State of Hawaii is one to be remembered. The birthday of one of Hawaii’s most beloved figures is celebrated every June 11th.

King Kamehameha (Ka-May-Ha-May-Ha) was the king who conquered the Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Maui and Kauai way back in the early 1800’s, uniting them with his kingdom, which he ruled from the big island of Hawaii. He was also big on reform and instituting customs that would honor Hawaiian ancestors and customs. He did away with a lot of superstitious rules and regulations, and may be one of the first rulers who actually tried to improve the lot and status of women on his islands. Not only that, but he welcomed and helped to arrange visits from early American missionaries as well as encouraged education among his people. Though he died before the first American missionaries arrived, he set a precedent that few other island kings or rulers did in welcoming foreign interests and education.

Kamehameha was known as a great ruler, and is believed to have fulfilled the Hawaiian prophecy of the legend of the birth of a male who would eventually become the greatest king Hawaii had ever known. He was born in the 1750’s in what is known as North Kohala. Because of the danger and threat he presented to current kings and rulers in Hawaii, he was spirited away and raised in a remote mountainous area until he became a teenager. His people in Kohala especially loved and revered him, and as he grew older, he conquered all the islands and united them under his leadership. He is known as Hawaii’s greatest warrior as well as statesman, who became known for his gentle spirit and his patience and kindness to all his people.

According to tradition, King Kamehameha was a giant of a man, one who commanded respect. Believe it or not, he owned a surfboard, which is reputed to be very large, as are his spears. A feather cape is still in existence today, which is too large for anyone under at least six foot five inches to wear without dragging on the ground.

To this day, King Kamehameha Day is celebrated on all the Hawaiian Islands with traditional ceremonies, parades and torchlight processions, but the celebrations observed in Honolulu are perhaps the most elaborate. On this day, exciting canoe, outrigger and surfboard and swimming races are held, attended by thousands of islanders and visitors from around the world who watch these traditional ceremonies with delight and awe. Of course, what would any Hawaiian celebration be without a traditional luau, or feast, complete with roasted pork, fish wrapped in leaves, traditional poi and other native delights such as coconut pudding? Ceremonial native dancers perform dances to the beat of drums and the flames of torchlight and bonfires.

A torchlight parade is often held, which a large man leads, standing in for King Kamehameha. He wears a large, yellow, feather robe and helmet and is surrounded by young men donned in feathers as well. Visitors will often discover that many other cultures also join in this parade, among them Chinese, Japanese and Korean organizations, all dressed in traditional costumes as well.

While celebrated mostly in Hawaii, King Kamehameha Day is known throughout the United States, and many mainland citizens opt to serve Hawaiian dishes for meals throughout the day in honor of the Hawaiian king. School children in Hawaii and around the mainland learn about this great leader on King Kamehameha Day, and create Hawaiian crafts and learn about the history of the great state of Hawaii. It’s a day to be remembered not only in Hawaii, but also throughout the country, a time to honor a great leader and icon of American generosity and spirit.

Who Was Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole

Prince Kuhio

Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Day

Whether you can say that name fast or slow doesn’t matter, for it’s the thought that counts. And the thought of celebrating Prince Kuhio Day in Hawaii has endured since the early 1900’s. Just who was Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole? He was the second Hawaiian to be appointed as a delegate to the United States congress.

Born in Koloa, Kauai on March 26th in 1871, the youngest of three sons born to Kauai’s High Chief David Kahalepouli Pilkoi and Princess Kinoiki Kekaulike. Don’t try to say these names if you’re not Hawaiian born or haven’t practiced a while, but do appreciate the legacy that the history of Hawaii brings to the United States. Prince Kuhio served as the Hawaii Territory delegate to the United States congress from 1903 to 1921 and was a founder of one of Hawaii’s very first civic clubs that was designed to encourage community efforts, affairs and education within Hawaii’s vast communities. The promotion of the Hawaiian culture as a way of life was extremely important to Prince Kuhio, as was his proud island heritage.

Prince Kuhio studied in Hawaii until he attended a four-year college in California and then in England, where he graduated from business school. After Americans overthrew the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893, Prince Kuhio made an attempt to restore the Hawaiian monarch, without success, and he ended up sentenced to a year in prison. After his release, he stayed away from Hawaii for several years and spent his time traveling, until he eventually joined the British Army to help fight in the Boer War. By the time he returned to his native homeland, Hawaii had been annexed as a Territory of the United States. Because of his popularity and royal background, Prince Kuhio was elected as Hawaii’s congressional delegate for ten consecutive terms!

Often known as Ke Ali’I Makaainana, or Prince of the People, Prince Kuhio dedicated his life and efforts to preserving and strengthening the Hawaiian people and their ancient heritage. While serving in congress, Prince Kuhio continued to lead efforts to provide housing and shelter for Hawaiians, and was the leading force of the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act that provided land on which native Hawaiians could build homes and farms.

Known as Hawaii’s ‘Citizen Prince’, Prince Kuhio was destined to be a king before the Hawaiian monarchy ended in 1893. Despite the fact that the Hawaii he had known all his life was going through growing pains and changes, Prince Kuhio nevertheless was a driving force for his people to remain united in culture and beliefs. He was beloved by all, which is obvious by his service as congressman to Hawaii, and his legacy continues to this day.

Prince Kuhio died in 1922 of heart failure. His body is buried in Hawaii’s Royal Family Mausoleum in Nuuanu, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Recently, a statue honoring Prince Kuhio was designed and erected and can now be seen at Waikiki. On March 26, 1949, a territorial legislature passed a resolution that established the day as a day in which all Hawaiians, and Americans, could honor the dedication of service and love of heritage exemplified by Prince Kuhio.
Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Day is celebrated mostly by native Hawaiians in their native state, though it’s a day that all Americans can observe, as Prince Kuhio personified the American spirit and pride of heritage that all Americans aspire to. His dedication and loyalty to his native Hawaii continues to be recognized by native Hawaiians to this day, and will continue for years to come. His desire to educate and provide support for his native people is to be admired and remembered every March 26th, on his day.