The Kamehameha Statue stands proudly in Honolulu, Hawaii as a symbol of the great Hawaiian king who unified the islands and brought peace. The statue has been standing for over 200 years and remains an important monument of Hawaiian culture today. Not only is it significant to Hawaiians, but it also represents an inspiring story that speaks to generations across the world. This article will explore the history behind this impressive sculpture, its significance to Hawaiians, and how it still stands strong after all these years. We’ll discuss its impact on Hawaii’s culture and why it continues to be such a revered symbol of unity among many people today.


  • The King Kamehameha Statue is a revered work of art that stands as a symbol of pride and respect for Hawaiian heritage.
  • The statue was sculpted by Thomas Gould, an American-born artist who worked with Italian marble and bronze to create the 8-foot-tall masterpiece.
  • Unique design that captures the essence of King Kamehameha I’s legacy
  • Each year, on June 11th, Hawaiians gather at the statue to commemorate King Kamehameha I’s birthday with music performances, hula dancers, island cuisine, and a traditional flower lei ceremony to honor his legacy.

Who was King Kamehameha?

Kamehameha I, also known as “The Great” or “The Conqueror”, was a Hawaiian king who is credited with unifying the islands of Hawaii under one rule and bringing peace to them in the 18th century. From birth, Hawaiian legend prophesied that a great chief would be born when a light with feathers like a bird appeared in the sky. Historians believe that Kamehameha was born in 1758, during the year Halley’s Comet passed over Hawaiʻi. Originally named Paiʻea, he was hidden from warring clans in the secluded Waipiʻo Valley on the Hāmākua Coast after his birth. Later renamed Kamehameha, he was trained as a warrior and made his legendary strength known by overturning the Naha Stone, which weighs between 2.5 and 3.5 tons, proving the prophecy that whoever had the strength to move it would rule the Hawaiian Islands. Today, the Naha Stone can still be seen in front of the Hilo Public Library.

Kamehameha died on May 8, 1819, in Kailua, Kona, on his home island of Hawai’i, and his remains were hidden following ancient customs so that only the stars know his final resting place. Today, iconic statues honor his memory,


King Kamehameha Statue across from Iolani Palace in historic downtown Honolulu
© Shutterstock

Iconic statues honor King Kamehameha’s memory. Perhaps the most well-known King Kamehameha Statue stands across the street from Iolani Palace on Oʻahu. The story of this statue has a history that’s far more intriguing. Thomas R. Gould, an American sculptor, was commissioned by the Kingdom of Hawai’i’s legislature to create a statue of Kamehameha. Forged in Florence, Italy in 1880, the ship that was ferrying it to Honolulu sank off the Falkland Islands. Believed to have been lost at sea, a replacement statue was commissioned and was erected in front of the Judiciary Building in Honolulu.

However, the original statue was miraculously found and recovered in 1912. The restored statue was then installed near Kamehameha’s birthplace at Kapaʻau. Gould’s masterpiece features the king adorned in regal attire, including a helmet made of rare feathers woven into plant fibers. The gilded cloak was meticulously crafted from the yellow feathers of native birds to form a fine mesh net. While the sandals are not historically accurate, they offer insight into the type of footwear worn by Kamehameha. In his left hand, the king holds a spear, symbolizing his ability to defend his nation and unite the Hawaiian people to bring an end to the wars. His right hand extends in aloha, the traditional spirit of friendliness.

Things To Do

The Kamehameha Statue is more than just a symbol of unity and peace in Hawaii; it’s also an important monument that visitors can explore and experience. Visitors can spend time at the statue exploring its history, significance, and importance to Hawaiians today.

Participate in Different Activities around the Area

There are various activities for people of all ages, including historical tours that provide an in-depth understanding of King Kamehameha I’s life and accomplishments. For those wanting to capture their experience at the Kamehameha Statue for years to come, there are plenty of photography opportunities available both day and night. Whether you want to take snapshots in front of this iconic symbol or take panoramic views that capture its grandeur from various angles—you won’t be disappointed! Additionally, visitors can take part in lei-making classes or craft floral tributes to lay at the base of the statue.

Pay Tribute and Attend Commemorative Event

On Kamehameha Day, a state holiday in Hawai’i celebrated every June 11, the statue is honored during a ceremony at Emancipation Hall. The annual celebration culminates with a special ceremony known as ‘ahaʻaina o Kamehameha featuring music from Hawaiian musicians and entertainment like fire dancing from professional performers. The event also includes flower leis from Hawai’i and hula performances from dancers portraying Kamehameha and Ka’ahu-manu. It provides an opportunity for locals and tourists alike to pay tribute to this great ruler with parades, feasts, hula competitions, and more around the state.

Tips for First-time Visitors

  • Dress modestly when visiting the statue and attending special events like Kamehameha Day (no swimwear or revealing clothing).
  • Bring water and a hat, as the area can be quite hot.
  • When paying your respects, you should keep a respectful distance from the statue. It is best to take selfies from 10-15 feet away so as not to intrude on its space.
  • Don’t climb on or touch any part of the statue.
  • Respect Hawaiian culture by keeping your voice low and not playing loud music or engaging in disruptive behavior.
  • Avoid inappropriate behavior such as taking items from the area like flowers or stones without permission.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Kamehameha Statue is located in front of Aliiolani Hale, the former home of Hawaii’s judiciary system, in downtown Honolulu, Hawaii.

American sculptor Thomas Gould created the 8-foot-tall bronze statue depicting King Kamehameha I as a strong and determined ruler standing atop a Hawaiian war canoe.

The Kamehameha Statue symbolizes many things but most prominently unity and peace. It serves as a reminder to all Hawaiians (and visitors) that unity and harmony can be achieved even among those with differing ideologies. It also serves as a lasting tribute to King Kamehameha I who united all of the Hawaiian Islands under one kingdom.

The Kamehameha Statue stands at about 18 feet tall.

Due to omens at his birth and dangers from rival clans, he has whisked away and concealed during his early years. Only at the age of five did he return to Kailua.

According to historical accounts, Kamehameha’s name translates to “The Very Lonely One” or “The One Set Apart,” reflecting his tumultuous early years and eventual rise to power.

How to Get to the King Kamehameha Statue

The King Kamehameha Statue is one of the most iconic images representing Hawaii’s culture and history. Located at 447 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96813, it stands tall at the Ali’iolani Hale across from Iolani Palace. To get to the King Kamehameha Statue, one can take public transportation such as a bus or taxi to Downtown Honolulu. The statue overlooks the bustling downtown scene and provides an excellent view of Punchbowl Crater in the background.

Alternatively, visitors can take a scenic drive along Ala Moana Boulevard to get there. Once you reach the intersection of Ala Moana and Bishop Street, you will see the impressive bronze sculpture of King Kamehameha I standing tall. For those driving, there are numerous parking options nearby with convenient access to the statue.