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Royal Hawaiian Band Victorious 140 Years Ago!

Cover Image: Masthead of Ka Hoku o ke Kai published on September, 1883.

Aloha Nūhou Monday!

In 1883, the Royal Hawaiian Band traveled across the Pacific to compete for musical honors at the Knights Templar Conclave held that year in San Francisco. While facing rumors that the Hawaiian Band carried leprosy, they nevertheless remained to compete along with 20 other bands, and came away victorious.

Image: The Royal Hawaiian Band, circa 1880s. Bishop Museum Archives. SP 38145.

Image: Na Keiki Puhi Ohe! Ka Hoku o ke Kai, September, 1883, p. 215.




With boundless joy do we share before our thousands of readers that a great honor has been bestowed upon Hawaiʻi, as our own Royal Hawaiian Band was extended high praise while overseas for a few short days. They had gone to participate in a grand celebration of the secret societies [Knight’s Templar], and while in the parade, the majesty of their craft, as well as that of Hawaiʻi’s name, was reverently upheld. Each and every member of the society extolled the skill, excellence, beauty, and innovation of our boys in this area of expertise, as they were deafened by the cheering voices of thousands who had gathered on the society’s joyous day, offering these words from their mouths: “Hawaiʻi is the best.” It was our own boys who secured the distinction of being the first group marching in the celebratory parade, and they were the ones to lead all 21 bands, fulfilling their charge while enduring the hardship, exhaustion, and weight of their task, and claiming top honors over the other 20 bands. Hawaiʻi is victorious! Hawaiʻi is the best!

(Hoku o ke Kai, 9/1883, p 215)

Image: The SS Mariposa carried the Royal Hawaiian Band to San Francisco Bay in the Fall of 1883. Bishop Museum Archives. SP 221250.

Image: A portrait of Bandmaster Henry Berger. Bishop Museum Archives. SP 96502.

Image sharing on social media is welcome. For all other uses please contact, Bishop Museum Archives.

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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