Although it’s been almost two centuries since his reign over the Hawaiian Kingdom, Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) still gets a huge birthday bash every year. The two-day event happens on the Big Island, the island on which he was born, and features live Hawaiian music by local entertainers.
As Hawaii’s longest reigning monarch, Kamehameha III did quite a bit in steering Hawaii’s history. He declared the right of religious freedom and established Hawaii’s first constitution in 1840. He also established judicial and executive branches of government and a system of land ownership under the Mahele of 1848.
Most notable, however, Kamehameha III came to the throne when he was only nine years old. He shared the earlier part of his reign with Queen Kaahumanu and then his half-sister Kinau. And after a period of rebellion, he finally settled into his role as king. He lead the kingdom through a time when Hawaii was at its most vulnerable. The native population was down, the island’s economy faced capitalism and the threat of annexation loomed over the kingdom.
In 1843, he coined Hawaii’s state motto: “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono” which means “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” Today, we see this phrase on the state seal, which is hanging outside of the Capitol. We also celebrate his life with this annual birthday concert in March. Check it out if you’re on the Big Island during that time; it’s a great way of getting “to know” one of Hawaii’s kings.
Photo Credit: Fern Gavelek
KAMEHAMEHA III BIRTHDAY CONCERT • Every mid-March on the Big Island • For more info, 808-222-0795