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First Kamehameha Day, 1872.

Cover Image: Masthead of Ka Nupepa Kuokoa published on September 7, 1872.

On December 22, 1871, Kamehameha V proclaims that the 11th of June will be a day to commemorate his kupuna, Kamehameha I. The proclamation read:

Image: “MA KE KAUOHA,” Ke Au Okoa, January 11, 1872, p. 2.


We, Kamehameha V., by the Grace of God, of the Hawaiian Islands, King, do hereby proclaim, that it is OUR will and pleasure that the Eleventh day of June of each year be hereafter observed as a Public Holiday in memory of OUR Grandfather and Predecessor, Kamehameha I., the founder of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Given at ʻIolani Palace, under OUR hand and the Great Seal of OUR Kingdom, this 22d day of December, A. D. 1871.


Image: “Tammeamea,” Portrait of King Kamehameha I. Lithograph by Langlume after painting by Louis Choris, Bishop Museum Archives, SP 1422

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Image: Detail of portrait of King Kamehameha V (Lot Kapuāiwa), retouched photo by J. J. Williams, ca. 1865 Bishop Museum Archives, SP 118967

Image sharing on social media is welcome. For all other uses please contact .

Image: Unauna, John K. “He Haiolelo no ka la 11 o Iune, no ka Hoomanao ana ia Kamehameha I.” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, September 7, 1872, p. 1 [Image currently online taken from microfilm.]

A Speech for the 11th of June, for

The Commemoration of Kamehameha I.

O Women and Men gathered beneath this roof, of the era of the Kamehamehas—upon me has been placed the great honor of donning the glorious finery of speaking of our aloha for the chiefs and land as well, and the joy for this day of

“Haui ka lani ʻo Kamauliauhonua,
Ka mauli hāʻule lani ma lalo ʻauheʻe.”

Kamehameha the great, the one called the Napoleon of the Pacific, who conquered, established, and unified these islands under his reign, for the glory of his chiefly descendants and the tranquility of we, the makaʻāinana. Who among us here in this assembly today stood by his side with their fighting club and barbed spear at the battle of Mokuʻōhai, and sacrificed their life before the leiomano, the long spears, the slings, and other spears of Kīwalaʻō and his compatriots, for the sovereignty of the land? I say, “None! Not one of us!”

“Hiki Makaliʻi Kāʻelo ka hōkū ʻo Nana.”

And his strategists, Keaweaheulu, Kameʻeiamoku, Kamanawa, and Keʻeaumoku stood before death, their blood flowing for the land upon which we tread haughtily, feel obstinately, and live boastfully. This was the battle of that Royal One, in which he first conquered for his chiefly descendants and us, their makaʻāinana; and he donned the feather cape of glory. It was his first reigning as ruler of “Kona i ka mauna hāliuliu,” and “ua makani Kohala ua ʻino na pali.” “Pā pono ihola ka makani i Kahuā a me Hāmākua i ke ala o Kuilei ē.” The second of his conquering to establish and to unite these islands, that is the battles of Laupāhoehoe Mua and Laupāhoehoe ʻElua, where we who are living today once again were not with him on the battlefield fending off the onslaught of Keawemaʻuhili and Keōua, the chiefs of Kaʻū and Hilo. It was in these battles that the law Māmalahoa was established by him, so the old men and old women could sleep on the roadways. This law is planted firmly in the hearts of each and every soul that has aloha for the chiefs and the land as well. And when this ends, the nation will split and overthrown. The third of his conquering to establish and to unite these islands, that was the war with Kalanikūpule, the son of Kahekili the chief of Maui, at Wailuku, and the battle was called Kepaniwai, ʻĪao, and Kaʻuaʻupali. It was in this battle that the long spear and barbed spear of Kamehameha the warrior floated atop the blood, and placed upon him was the feather helmet of glory for becoming the King of the entirety of Maui of Kamalālāwalu. The fourth of his conquering to establish and unite these islands, that was the battle at Koapāpaʻa, Hāmākua, Hawaiʻi. In this battle, Keōua, the chief of Kaʻū and Puna was captured, and Kamehameha became King of the entire island of Hawaiʻi. The fifth of his conquering to establish and unite these islands, that was his warring with Kaeo, the chief of Kauaʻi, and Kahekili, the chief of Maui, at Kohala, Hawaiʻi, and the battle was called Kepūwahaʻulaʻula and Kauaʻawa. The sixth of his conquering to establish and to unite this archipelago, that was his battle with Kalanikūpule the successor to the Kingship of Maui and Oʻahu, and the name of that battle was Nuʻuanu. As a result, Maui, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, and Oʻahu fell into his hands. His seventh and final battle is where he drank of the bitter waters of glory for his chiefly descendants, and tranquility for us, the makaʻāinana, where Kauaʻi, island of Mano, was given by Kaumualiʻi into the hands of Kamehameha the Great, and all of the archipelago was joined as one nation under him. And from then until today when we rejoice, what he established has not been overthrown. The nation was administered through his great skill and wisdom, and in the year 1819, he put aside his burdens with never-ending glory. And he left behind the entire Hawaiian archipelago as a monument to his unmatched fearless deeds. And that great glory has passed down to his descendants to this day. Whereas the current of the land flowed peacefully, the great glory which he conquered first passed down upon Liholiho, his child, the second of the Kamehamehas, and it was during his time that he toppled the idol Gods, the heiau, and the kapu of Hawaiʻi during the battle at Kuamoʻo, Hawaiʻi, and on the 30th of March, 1820, the rays of the light of Christianity first spread over “Kona kai malino a Ehu,” Kailua, Hawaiʻi, until the light of true righteousness reached all over this archipelago, of which we boast, “the land of victory and tranquility.” O Native-born youths, who while away your days in this land where light dwells, I ask of each of your hearts, let us join together and rejoice in the festivities of this day, the day of our Father who out of all of these islands established the nation of Hawaiʻi, and let us kneel and ask of the Almighty God, may the unity of these islands and its children be perpetuated, and extended be the life of our King, ʻIolani Kūkāʻilimoku Kapuāiwa Lota Kamehameha the Chief.1

And here, your friend concludes his speech. With aloha,

John K. Unauna.
Lahaina, June 5, 1872.

(Kuokoa, 9/7/1872, p. 1)

On a side note, the official holidays of the Kingdom for 1872 were:
Hoʻomanaʻo ʻana iā Kamehameha I
Commemoration of Kamehameha I
June 11
Lā Kūʻokoʻa Hawaiʻi
Recognition of Hawaiian Independence
November 28
Lā Hānau o ka Mōʻī
Birth of His Majesty
December 11
Lā Karistimasa
December 25
Lā Makahiki Hou
New Year’s
January 1

This post is part of He Aupuni Palapala: Preserving and Digitizing the Hawaiian Language Newspapers, a partnership between Bishop Museum and Awaiaulu with assistance from Kamehameha Schools. Mahalo nui loa to Hawaii Tourism Authority for their support. Learn more about this project here.

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