Special to The 'Ohana

June 06, 2024
Share this article:
The King Kamehameha statue on King Street in Honolulu

The King Kamehameha statue on King Street in Honolulu.

King Kamehameha, the unifier of the Hawaiian Islands, is celebrated as one of the most significant figures in Hawaiian history. His life and legacy are commemorated on King Kamehameha Day, observed annually on June 11, with a celebration of events on Hawaiʻi Island, Kauaʻi, Molokaʻi, Maui, and Oʻahu. The first King Kamehameha Day was celebrated in 1872 when King Kamehameha V proclaimed it a national holiday to honor his grandfather.  

Born circa 1758, Kamehameha was of noble birth, tracing his lineage to the high chiefs of Hawaiʻi. His birth is believed to have coincided with the appearance of Halley's Comet, an omen signaling the arrival of a great leader. 

Kamehameha's incredible success in unifying the Hawaiian Islands was realized by several factors. He formed alliances with foreign traders, acquiring firearms and cannons, and built a large fleet of war canoes. In 1810, Kamehameha had unified the Hawaiian Islands, marking the beginning of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.

A prominent symbol of King Kamehameha's legacy is his statue on King Street in front of Aliʻiōlani Hale, home of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court. This remarkable statue, including its base, stands 18 feet tall. Unveiled in 1883 during the coronation of King Kalākaua, it was designed by American sculptor Thomas Gould, with the pedestal crafted by Australian Robert Lishman. The statue features four gilded bronze panels around its base, depicting scenes from Kamehameha's life, highlighting his military prowess and legal achievements. Although Thomas Gould began the work on the panels, he died before their completion, and his son finished them. The statue serves as a lasting tribute to Kamehameha's enduring impact on Hawaiian history.

To learn more about the events scheduled across the islands of Hawaiʻi to celebrate Kamehameha Day, click here.



Photo by Anthony Quintano from Honolulu, HI, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


The Ohana teal logo