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Hawai‘i Island Celebrates King Kamehameha

June 11, 2019, 8:11 AM HST
* Updated June 12, 3:35 PM
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VIDEO: King Kamahameha celebration in Kohala, June 11, 2019

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King Kamehameha Day celebrations began on Hawai‘i Island with a parade in Kona on Saturday, June 8, 2019. Events were already held in Honolulu, as well as in Washington, D.C.

Kamehameha the Great was the monarch of Hawai‘i between 1782 and 1819.

Celebrations continued on Monday, June 10, with a lei draping ceremony in Hilo at Mokuola (Coconut Island). The Royal Order of Kamehameha I, Māmalahoa, presented the Kamehameha Festival. The Festival will feature Hawaiian music, hula, art and craft vendors.

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VIDEO: King Kamahameha celebration in Kohala, June 11, 2019

The king’s birthday will be celebrated on his official birthday, June 11, in North Kohala, the birthplace of the chief who united the islands.

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VIDEO: King Kamahameha celebration in Hilo, June 10, 2019

The festival will feature a lei draping ceremony on King Kamehameha’s original stature.

The original statue of Kamehameha at Kamehameha Park in Kapa‘au will be draped in 25-foot-long floral lei, followed by hula, history and music; pa‘u riders made their way from Hawi to the statue and Kamehameha Park on June 11.

Thousands will gather in Kapaʻau beginning at 8 a.m. to take part in the annual lei draping, followed by the traditional floral parade and a hoʻolauleʻa at the nearby Kamehameha Park.

In a media release, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono reflected on this year’s theme —Olelo Hawai‘i—and discussed the ongoing threats to programs and institutions serving the Native Hawaiian community. She stated:

“As the stories of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders become more prominently recognized in popular culture, the next generation of Hawaiian language speakers are working hard to protect the language and keep it alive.

“They show up when facing the difficult questions of land use, they speak out to protect their values, and they stand up for their cultural practices and traditions to ensure they are honored and appropriately represented.

“While we in Hawaii continue to value the Native Hawaiian community, the conservative movement seeks to disempower indigenous peoples nationwide. Justice Kavanaugh, the newest member to the Supreme Court, wrote an op-ed and amicus brief that asserted Native Hawaiians were not an indigenous community. Shannon Goessling, a nominee to lead the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women, has argued that the Native Hawaiian community has not done enough to assimilate in the United States and has even described them as ‘an evil empire dedicated to Native Hawaiian Supremacy.’”

“Every day, and in very concrete ways including confirmation of Trump-appointed judges, we must fight to ensure respect for the Native Hawaiian community and indigenous communities everywhere.”

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