Recognize the statue from Hawaii 5-0? Who is this person? Well you will probably find out later this week when you see that all state and county offices are closed. Friday, June 10 is a statewide Hawaii holiday honoring great King Kamehameha I. King Kamehameha Day was proclaimed in 1871 by King Kamehameha V, to honor his great grandfather, King Kamehameha I.
A parade and other events will be held on Kauai on June 18.
Kamehameha the Great was born somewhere between 1748 and 1761 in North Kohala on the island of Hawaii. Although the exact date is unknown, by royal Proclamation in 1871 of King Kamehameha V in honor of his grandfather, June 11 of each year was designated as a holiday to honor the life and times of Hawai`i's greatest statesman, warrior and king.
Hawaiians believe that the birth of Paiea Kamehameha fulfilled their traditional prophecy of a birth of a male who would vanquish all other chiefs to become the greatest of all chiefs in Hawai`i. His childhood was spent in seclusion with foster parents who would train him in the skills of warfare and prepare him for his role as warrior-king of the island nation. Following a period of civil war and dissension, by 1791 the island of Hawai`i was again under unified rule, and by 1810, the last of the chiefs of the islands of Maui, O`ahu and Kaua`i relinquished sovereignty to Kamehameha.
Please note that King Kaumuali’i, Kauai’s King did not relinquish sovereignty – he was kidnapped by Kamehameha and taken to Oahu where he died. Only then did Kauai become part of the unified Hawaiian Islands. To this day Kauai still considers itself “A Separate Kingdom”.
The Kingdom of Hawai`i was born. For the rest of his life, Kamehameha I ruled in peace. He established trade with foreign countries, introduced new animal and plant life, promoted agriculture and fostered industry. A contemporary of Napoleon and George Washington, Kamehameha I accomplished all that he did without the aid of a written language and while the religion of the Hawaiian Islands was still that of ancient Polynesia. This "Napoleon of the Pacific" died in Kailua Kona on the island of Hawai`i in 1819.
The first commemoration day was held June 11, 1872, and was filled with horse races and other sporting events such as Velocipede races, sack races, wheelbarrow and foot races. In 1901 a group of "old Hawaiians" decorated with leis a statue of Paiea Kamehameha which had been erected in 1883. Today the statue decoration is an integral part of the King Kamehameha Celebration.
A King Kamehameha Celebration Commission was established in 1939 and charged with the responsibility of planning and managing all festival activities, which today include parades on every island, arts and crafts fairs, sports challenges, pageantry, and an international hula competition. The year 2000 marks the 128th anniversary of the only holiday in the United States created to honor a once-reigning monarch in the only state that was once a kingdom, the Kingdom of Hawai`i.
Watch our local newspaper, The Garden Island for more information about Kamehameha celebrations on Kauai