50th Anniversary of the Bana Hawaii, 1919

Pictures 1—The Hawaiian Band taken in San Francisco in 1883. 2—The band on the steps of the new Palace and the Executive Building [Hale Mana Hooko] today, taken in 1884. The new uniforms of the boys seen in this picture was sent by mistake from America to Honduras, Central America. 3—The Band lead by [Jose S.] Libornio that refused to swear under the Provisional Government in 1893. 4—The picture of J. K. Pohina [James K. Pohina], the only man left of the 26 who established the band 50 years ago, who is still with the Hawaiian Band. 5—The band at the Golden Gate, of San Francisco, at a banquet in 1895. 6—The band today at their new home on Waiakamilo Street, Kalihi. 7—The Bana Hawaii leading the parade of the Great Secret Society Knights Templars in San Francisco, August 20, 1883.


When Kamehameha V was ruling fifty years ago, the Hawaiian Band was established by a British man named Mr. Northcett, under orders of the King. On that day 26 young men were chosen for the band from the reformatory school of Keoneula, and the teaching of this knowledge to them was immediately began. The king had this idea first and so brass instruments were ordered earlier and they arrived here in Honolulu before he chose Mr. Northcett as the instructor to teach the boys.

On the 11th of June 1870, the band was first began, therefore, this past Wednesday made the band’s Jubilee. From amongst the 26 boys that were first taught when the band first began, only one is alive, and he is still one of the band today, he being J. K. Pohina, and it is his picture in the middle of the pictures above.

In the past half century, the Hawaiian Band was famous around the world. During the time when the monarchs were living, the band was taken everywhere that the monarchs went in the islands, and they became retainers of the monarch. They were taken to America many times, and assistance was asked for from Hawaii nei to help to bring them back to their homeland.

After the overthrow of the government of Liliuokalani, the musicians left the band, and refused to take the oath to support the Provisional Government, and a new band was begun independently called “Bana Hawaii Alii” [“Royal Hawaiian Band”], under Prof. Libornio a Filipino band teacher. Thereafter that new independent band was broken and musicians with the first band that was established in the beginning returned. The Hawaiian Band was greatly admired the many times they were taken to America for the attractiveness and extreme competence of the Hawaiian boys at that skill, and their sweet and beautiful singing voices combined with their instruments; it is amazing how they were  adored and Mr. Morseley wrote a story giving praise for the band.

In the past half century that the Hawaiian Band existed, there were many band teachers who taught the Hawaiians; in 1872, Mr. Frank Medina took Northcett’s place. In 1873 Mr. Berger arrived in Hawaii nei from Germany and he taught band members until 1915, and he was retired and received a pension as per the resolution by the Territorial Legislature.

After Mr. Berger’s retirement, he went to Germany, and the leadership went to Mr. Schmidt, and after he left the job, and then Peter Kalani was chosen as leader, and in 1917 his position was filled by Robert H. Baker, the teacher who is leading today.

During the reign of King Kalakaua, the band was always taken where he went around the islands, and so too during the reign of Queen Liliuokalani, and when her government was overthrown, the first band boys left and their places were filled by malihini from foreign lands. Some of the original band members did not return, and some died, and only two of the very old members of the band are living, Kamakaia and Pohina; but Kamakaia retired, and J. K. Pohina is the only old timer who is with the band today, from when it was established.

There are 30 members of the band today, and for the jubilee of the band, Mayor J. J. Fern gifted to the band this Wednesday, June 11, a koa plate engraved with the American and Hawaiian flag above with the appropriate words written below the Hawaiian flag, “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono.”

(Kuokoa, 6/13/1919, p. 3)


Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke LXII, Helu 24, Aoao 3. Iune 13, 1919.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s