More on Kamehameha III 100th birthday memorial, 1914.


Handsome Tablet Is Unveiled Accompanied by Sacred Chant of Loved King

The unveiling of a handsome tablet of Hawaiian lava granite, to the accompaniment of sacred chants composed a century ago, marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kauikeaouli, the third of the Kamehamehas, which yesterday afternoon was observed at old Kawaiahao church by the Daughters of Hawaii. It was a fitting memorial to that ruler who, known to his subjects as the beneficent king, gave to the inhabitants of these islands their first written constitution, and, to make the observance further complete, the tablet will be taken to Keauhou, Kona, where it will mark the birthplace of ka moi lokomaikai.

The historical structure of Kawaiahao, around which is woven innumerable tales dear to the heart of the kamaaina, was occupied by more than 2600 persons, the majority of whom were Hawaiian. The memorial tablet occupied the center of the platform, hidden from view by the royal standard of Liliuokalani and High Chiefess Elizabeth Kekaaniau Pratt, both lineal descendants of the Hawaiian King who was the founder of the Kamehameha dynasty. Feathered cloaks of almost priceless value draped the chairs in which they sat.

The strange, yet beautiful, setting doubtless was a perfect replica of a court scene in the days of the old regime when the Kamehameha held sway. The costuming of the participants was perfect, and there was presented a spectacle in which was brought out many ancient and rare relics which today are treasured by Honolulu families and which are seldom seen other than in private homes, where they are held almost sacred.

Attired in feather cloaks and helmets, High Chief Fred Kahapula Beckley and High Chief Albert Kalaninoanoa Hoapili, the spear and kahili bearers respectively, occupied places just back of the queen and High Chiefess Pratt, representing the figures which are seen on the royal Hawaiian coat-of-arms. Both are lineal descendants of chiefs of the court of Kamehameha I, High Chief Beckley being a descendant of Kameeiamoku, and High Chief Hoapili a descendant of Kamanawa, the royal kahili bearer. Boys from the Kamehameha school, to the number of 16, acted as court attendants and kahili bearers, and occupied places on either side of the court representatives. They were attired in feather capes and other accessories adopted by the Hawaiian warriors of other days. Above this gathering was suspended the royal standard of Kalakaua, as well as other Hawaiian flags, their colors blending in perfect harmony with the vivid green of the palms and ferns with which the nave was banked.

Chant Never in Writing.

The services were opened by the congregation singing “How Firm a Foundation” and, following an invocation by Rev. Henry K. Poepoe, pastor of Kaumakapili church, Mrs. Naka Hakuole, the royal chanter, chanted the ancient koihonua which dealt with the genealogy of Kauikeaouli and which was listened to with rapt attention. The church was stilled, and not a sound was audible other than the weird, rhythmic song which told the story of those whom whence the beneficent king descended.

When the chant had been completed, the queen released her personal flag which covered the memorial tablet, and at the same time High Chiefess Pratt released the Hawaiian flag, and the handsome stone was uncovered. The “Prayer of Life,” the most sacred of all Hawaiian chants, was then chanted by Mrs. Hakuole. This chant, it is said, since the birth of Kamehameha III, never has been set down in writing, but has been conveyed by word of mouth from generation to generation. The history which surrounds it is that Kamehameha III, at his birth, was as one dead, and the royal babe was restored to life when the royal chanter invoked the assistance of the gods by chanting “The Prayer of Life.” Following the chant, there were several addresses given both in Hawaiian and in English, the speakers being Judge A. S. Mahaulu, Rev. W. B. Oleson, and Rev. O. H. Gulick. The services came to a close with the rendition of the Pauahi and Kamehameha songs, dedicated to Mrs. Charles R. Bishop, by several girls from the Kamehameha School. Many prominent residents of Honolulu, including Gov. L. E. Pinkham, Judge Sanford B. Dole and Mrs. Dole, Chief Justice A. G. M. Robertson and Mrs. Robertson, Senator John C. Lane, W. R. Castle and W. O. Smith were present. The Hawaiian societies which participated in the services were the Daughters of Hawaii, Kamehameha Lodge, Aha Hui Kaahumanu, the Daughters of the Warriors, the Chiefs of Hawaii, Aha Hui Oiwi Ona Wahine, Aha Na Pua o Hawaii and Aha Hui Poola O Na Wahine.

Address of Rev. W. B. Oleson

Following is the address delivered by Rev. W. B. Oleson:

“It is fitting on this centennial anniversary of the birth of Kauikeaouli, son of Kamehameha the Great, and himself a beloved king of Hawaii nei, for over a score of years, that we should recall that it was he who strongly urged the erection of this building in which we are assembled, generously subscribing $3000 toward its cost; that it was he who at the dedication of this house of worship in 1842, presented the church with a deed to the building and the site; and that it was he who, on the occasion of restoration of the national sovereignty in 1843, at a special thanksgiving service held in this auditorium, addressed the great congregation and uttered the words which became the national motto: “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono”—the life of the land is perpetuated by righteousness.

“It is fitting therefore that this should be the scene of special recognition of the statesmanship and personal worth of the great benefactor of his people.

Broke Down Tabu System

“Covering a span of only two-score years, his life began with the breaking down of the ancient tabu system, and ended with the establishment of constitutional government throughout the nation.

“Notwithstanding he was born into the world a well-nigh lifeless babe, he was destined to achieve for his people more than all the monarchs of Hawaii.

“Thus he was permitted by the sanction of his brother, the king, to sit down in his Kona home and to eat with his mother, thus doing a forbidden thing; and by that act, through he was a mere child, he dealt the death-blow to the tabu system that was already tottering under the weight of its cruel oppressions.

“Accustomed to dissolute associations, and apparently hopelessly entangled with reactionaries, he surprised the whole nation when, at the early age of 20, in assuming full sovereignty, he placed himself squarely before his people on the side of righteousness by the choice of the Christian princess, Kinau, as his premier.

“King John of England granted Magna Charta to his rebellious barons under the stress of armed constraint. But Kauikeaouli, when only 26 years of age, without constraint and of his own free will, proclaimed a bill of rights such as no other sovereign probably has ever accorded his people voluntarily. That bill of rights emancipated the common people from serfdom, and conferred on them the privilege of owning their own lands, and of enjoying unhindered the labor of their lands.

“It does not detract anything from the honorable record of Abraham Lincoln to recall that however much he desired the emancipation of the negro, he was not able to effect it until political and military necessity compelled it. Kauikeaouli emancipated his people from their irksome bondage not through compulsion, or the force of circumstances, but by reason of his own generous regard for the happiness of his people.

“Later on he made the emancipation of his people effective by setting apart one-third of the land so that every Hawaiian might become a land-owner. This was known as the great mahele, and this act of Kauikeaouli’s will always stand out in the history of Hawaii as the noblest effort of a generous monarch to promote the progress and prosperity of his people.

Gave People Constitution.

“Most nations have arrived at constitutional government through the grudging concessions of rulers and the slow processes of agitation and civil conflict. But Kauikeaouli conferred constitutional government on his people as the natural climax of what he had undertaken in their behalf. And so he gave them first the constitution of 1840, and finally the ampler constitution of 1852, admitting the common people to a share in the enactment and execution of laws for the common good.

“For 22 years Kauikeaouli was the progressive and statesmanlike leader of his people. And he was such in the face of great crises and changes in the national history. Two great epidemics decimated his people. Repeatedly the independence of Hawaii was menaced by the unjust encroachment of foreign nations. The great awakening created conditions that necessitated schools, and courts, and land commissions, and systems of taxation, and all the paraphernalia of a civilized community. The doctrine of religious toleration had to be established. Protection for his people from the ravages of strong drink, was a commanding issue. So was the necessity of shielding his people from the lustful assaults incidental to the presence here of as many as 500 whaling vessels in a single year.

Ambition to Serve People.

“He was a wise ruler, who kept wise counselors about him, and his ambition was to serve his people well and to hold them to what was right.

“He had his faults, but no one knew them or regretted them more than he. To the young chiefs gathered in their school, he said: ‘I wish my lot had been like yours. I deeply regret the foolish manner in which I spent the years of my youth.’

“He was a remarkable man, in the forefront of remarkable changes in the life of a whole nation. The marvels is that one short life should compass such a transformation as Hawaii experienced from 1813 to 1854, and that that life should have been a part of it all.

“In no small degree was this due to the pronounced influence of three noble daughters of Hawaii—Keopuolani, Kaahumanu and Kinau. Sturdy in their loyalty to Christian ideals, their counsels were of inestimable value to Kauikeaouli in giving direction to his convictions and in helping to shape his decisions in great exigencies.

Tablet to Perpetuate Memory.

“This memorial tablet, when finally erected at his birthplace, shall speak to coming generations as they shall read the inscription. But an even nobler memorial is that which is written in the hearts of the Hawaiian people and of every lover of their race.

“It is fitting that I should quote in closing, the words uttered by Kamehameha IV in this house of worship in his address on the occasion of his taking the oath to maintain the constitution, January 11, 1855:

“‘The age of Kamehameha III was one of progress and of liberty, of schools and of civilization. He gave us a constitution, and fixed laws; he secured the people in their title to their lands, and removed the last chain of oppression. He gave them a voice in his councils and in the making of the laws by which they are governed. He was a great national benefactor, and has left the impress of his mild and amiable disposition on the age for which he was born.'”

(Star Bulletin, 3/18/1914, p. 8)


Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Volume XXI, Number 6846, Page 8. March 18, 1914.

1 thought on “More on Kamehameha III 100th birthday memorial, 1914.

  1. Pingback: Hawaiian-language versus English historical documents, 2014 and beyond. | nupepa

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