Day of Unity: Kaua’i Celebrates King Kamehameha
By Amanda Kurth
The people of Kaua’i came together for the first time in more than two years to commemorate King Kamehameha Day, a day uniting the community, in honor of a king who united the islands.
While the cultural celebration is a sacred keepsake – Saturday marked the 150th anniversary – the event was free to attend, as local families and travelers alike came together to relish history in the garden courtyard of the Royal Sonesta Kaua’i Resort in Līhu‘e.
“It’s been such a relief to get the community back together in this sort of setting,” said Kalāheo resident Chelsea Schroeder, adding, “This morning has been absolutely fabulous.”
The celebration had been paused the last two years due to the pandemic.
“I think this day is amazing and it’s incredible to experience the culture and get to see something that wasn’t available growing up in Michigan,” one visitor said. “Just to witness the generations on the court in the traditional procession was a privilege.”
The King Kamehameha Celebration Commission oversees all celebrations honoring King Kamehameha I around the June 11 holiday, working closely with an established network of volunteers statewide who oversee the celebrations ensuring they are executed and promoted.
“This year marks the 150th anniversary of the King Kamehameha celebrations,” said Lyah Kama-Drake, King Kamehameha Commissioner of Kaua’i. “It’s a time to honor our ‘ohana by celebrating the foundation paved by our kupuna as we perpetuate Hawaiian culture for future generations.”
The King Kamehameha Celebration Commission was created in 1939 by the Territory of Hawaii, 20 years before statehood. The organization falls under the state’s Department of Accounting and General Services and includes 15 members appointed by the governor representing 10 community groups, including at least one member from five islands.
James Roache, and Tony Silva also known as Da Braddahs, helped to host the event and spoke to the crowd about Hawaii’s monarchical traditions.
“In antiquity, the line of offerings would run sometimes for miles,” said Silva. “Coming from the island of O’ahu, we want to honor those that are really from here, from Kaua’i, so mahalo for allowing us to revel in your aloha spirit.”
Event festivities included booths for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, lei-making, genealogy tracking, and Project Pilina, a resource for caregivers, birth families, and Keiki in foster care run by Partners in Development Foundation.
For those interested in learning more about King Kamehameha I and Native Hawaiian history, click here.