Laamea Kamanakapuu Mahinulani Naloiaehuokalani Lumialani
Kalakaua was the seventh king of Hawaii, ruling from
1874 until his death in 1891. He
was nicknamed the "Merrie Monarch" because of the
many gala events and festivals he hosted at Iolani
Palace during his reign. Today,
the Merrie Monarch Festival is held in his honor,
as he was instrumental in reviving hula, which had
been banned by the missionaries.
this statue, King Kalakaua is holding an Ipu Heke
hula implement) in his left hand and a taro plant (kalo,
from which poi is made) in his right. These items
symbolize his commitment to restoring Hawaiians "to
our former position of pride and power in our own land."
This naturally put him at odds with those intent on
having Hawaii annexed to the United States to protect
their business interests.
was born in 1836 and was of chiefly rank, the son of
High Chief Kapaakea and the Chiefess Keohokalole.
He was trained in the military and as a lawyer, and
served as the Kingdom's first Postmaster General.
Following the death of King Lunalilo, he was elected
king in 1874 at age 37.
as a very fine and intelligent man by Robert Louis Stevenson,
Kalakaua was an accomplished musician and author.
His most notable works are Hawaii's national anthem,
now the state song, Hawaii
Ponoi, and The
Legends and Myths of Hawaii, originally
published in 1888 and still in print!
were several important firsts during King Kalakaua's
17 year reign. He was the first Head of State
to circumnavigate the globe, visiting many nations in
Asia and Europe, strengthening Hawaii's diplomatic ties
and also increasing his knowledge and understanding
of other countries. He commissioned the design
of `Iolani Palace (completed
in 1882) and had electricity installed there in 1887
(earlier than the White House!). He was one of
the first to have a telephone (1878) and his words were
recorded on one of Thomas Edison's phonographs
are many versions and interpretations of Kalakaua's rule,
especially when it comes to the politics that led to the
overthrow in 1893. History is written by the winner,
but perhaps remembered a little differently by the loser.
One of the key events was the constitution
of 1887, as described here by John Kamakawiwo`ole
Osorio, part of an excellent Hawai`i
1887 a small group of haole business owners and lawyers,
backed by their own private paramilitary force, coerced
King Kalakaua into abrogating the Hawaiian Kingdom's
constitution in order to replace it with one they themselves
had drafted. This constitution, known as the Bayonet
Constitution, eliminated the king's power and undermined
the Native Hawaiian-controlled legislature by making
the House of Nobles accessible only to those with large
incomes or land holdings. This constitution also ended
citizenship for hundreds of Asian immigrants who, in
the eyes of the haole, were not considered trustworthy.
that is enough politics for this short bio intended
to give you a glimpse of the man honored by the annual
Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo on the Island of Hawaii
during April. Web Links provide many online resources
for digging into Hawaii's history for those who wish.
Hawaiian Monarchs | History
of Hawaii Timeline