King Kamehameha Statue

King Kamehameha Statue: A Symbol of Hawaiian Royalty and Legacy

Standing prominently in front of Aliʻiōlani Hale, home to the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court, the Kamehameha statue is an iconic symbol in downtown Honolulu. Just located across from ʻIolani Palace and just a short stroll away from the historic Kawaiahaʻo Church and the State Capitol, the statue is quite a site to see and photograph.

There are four statues that were made of Kamehameha the great and are found in the various islands and also in Washington D.C. at the capitol.

A little history about the King Kamehameha statue
A little history about the King Kamehameha statue

A little history about the King Kamehameha statue

Originally dedicated in 1883, this remarkable statue is actually the second one created of Kamehameha. The original statue, lost at sea near Cape Horn, was later discovered and erected in North Kohala, near King Kamehameha’s birthplace on the island of Hawaiʻi.

Another statue of Kamehameha can be found in Hilo town on the same island which was originally made for a hotel in Kauai but was rejected by citizens of the island which they state Kamehameha did not conquer the island. There is a fourth statue that was also created and stands in Washington D.C., at the Capitol in the Emancipation Hall Collection and a gift from Hawaii.

Sculpted by Thomas Gould in Florence, the 18-foot bronze statue of Kamehameha is not only a beloved landmark but also a favorite subject for photographers on Oʻahu. Every year on the Friday closest to June 11, Kamehameha Day, the statue is adorned with beautiful wreaths of flower lei to honor the legacy of Hawaiʻi’s greatest king.

Creation of the Statue

Commissioned by the legislature of the Kingdom of Hawai’i, Thomas Gould was tasked with creating a statue of Kamehameha. In 1879, Gould modeled the figure at his studio in Rome. The statue was then cast in bronze at a Paris foundry in 1880, but unfortunately, it was lost in a shipwreck during its journey to Hawai’i. Undeterred, a second statue was cast from the same model and safely arrived. In 1883, it was unveiled by Hawai’i’s last king, Kalakaua, in front of the Judiciary Building in Honolulu, where it remains to this day. The first statue was later recovered and brought to Hawai’i, finding its place in 1912 at the Kohala Court House in Kapa’au on the Island of Hawai’i, in Kamehameha’s birth district.

American sculptor Thomas R. Gould skillfully captured Kamehameha’s regal presence in his statue, depicting him adorned in royal attire. Notably, the statue showcases a helmet adorned with rare feathers, intricately attached to woven plant fibers. The gilded cloak, inspired by the craftsmanship of Kamehameha’s subjects, features a mesh net woven with yellow feathers from native birds. While the sandals may not be historically accurate, they represent the type of footwear Kamehameha would have worn. In his left hand, he holds a spear symbolizing defense and the end of Hawaiian conflicts. The extended right hand embodies the spirit of aloha, representing a warm and welcoming gesture.

King Kamehameha Day

King Kamehameha Day Celebrations in Hawaii

King Kamehameha Day is a special celebration in Hawaii that honors King Kamehameha the Great, the first ruler to unite the Hawaiian Islands. The festivities typically take place on June 11th each year. The celebrations include various cultural events and activities, such as parades, hula performances, music concerts, and traditional ceremonies. One of the highlights is the floral parade, where participants adorn colorful floats and wear traditional attire. The statue of King Kamehameha is also decorated with beautiful lei, symbolizing respect and admiration for the great king. The celebrations showcase the rich Hawaiian culture and pay tribute to King Kamehameha’s legacy and contributions to the islands.

The statues of Kamehameha the Great are typically adorned with fresh tropical flowers and native foliage as a gesture of respect and aloha for the great king of Hawaii.

Here’s a draping ceremony ritual at Kapa’au, Hawaii

Check out this video commemorating King Kamehameha Day

Location of the King Kamehameha Statues

King Kamehameha in the town of Kapa'au
King Kamehameha in the town of Kapa’au

Kohala location

As you travel along Highway 270 in the Kohala region, keep an eye out on the right-hand side between the 23 and 24 mile markers for a glimpse of a remarkable sight: the statue of King Kamehameha in the town of Kapa’au. This enduring statue has a captivating story of resilience and endurance.

King Kamehameha is located in Hilo

Hilo location

The statue of King Kamehameha is located in Hilo, a picturesque town on the island of Hawai’i. It can be found in a prominent position in Wailoa park and fronting Hilo Bay and the Wailoa Center in the background. Its presence in Hilo represents the enduring legacy and cultural heritage of the Hawaiian people. Visitors to Hilo can admire the statue’s grandeur and learn more about the rich history and traditions it represents.

King Kamehameha is located in Honolulu,

Honolulu location

The statue of King Kamehameha is located in Honolulu, the capital city of Hawai’i. It stands proudly in front of Aliʻiōlani Hale, which houses the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court. Positioned across from ʻIolani Palace, the statue holds a prominent position in downtown Honolulu. Visitors to Honolulu can admire the statue’s majestic presence, learn about King Kamehameha’s significant role in Hawaiian history, and appreciate the architectural beauty of the surrounding area.

Washington D.C. location

On April 15, 1969, a ceremony took place in the Capitol Rotunda to unveil the statue of King Kamehameha as part of the National Statuary Hall collection. The statue was later relocated to National Statuary Hall in June of the same year. Due to its substantial weight, with the bronze statue and solid granite base weighing over 6 tons, its secure support was a crucial consideration in determining its placement. In 2008, the statue was transferred to Emancipation Hall, which is part of the Capitol Visitor Center, ensuring its continued preservation and accessibility.

Here’s a video honoring Kamehameha in a colorful parade



Wikipedia reference to King Kamehameha I

Kamehameha I statue

Kamehameha Day celebrations

Check out our posts to visiting historical and cultural sites in Hawaii

Hawaii National Parks and Monuments

Pu’ukohola Heiau

Oahu Museums

Downtown Honolulu historical sites

Kaloko Honokohau National Historic Park

Conclusion to King Kamehameha Statue

Conclusion to King Kamehameha Statue

In conclusion, the King Kamehameha Statue stands as an iconic symbol of Hawaii’s rich history and cultural heritage. With its prominent locations in Honolulu, Hilo, and Washington D.C., the statue commemorates the legendary Hawaiian king, Kamehameha the Great. Sculpted by Thomas R. Gould, this magnificent bronze statue captures the regal presence and aloha spirit of Kamehameha.

The statue’s significance is celebrated through various traditions, such as draping it with flower lei during Kamehameha Day. Whether admired for its artistic beauty or revered for its historical importance, the King Kamehameha Statue serves as a powerful reminder of Hawaii’s past and the enduring legacy of its great king.

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Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.