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King Kamehameha III Statue Unveiled on Hawaiian Sovereignty Restoration Day

The 12-foot-tall bronze statue dedication took place at Thomas Square in Honolulu in honor of the 175th anniversary of Lā Ho‘iho‘i Ea.


King Kamehameha III statue

Photos: David Croxford


Hawai‘i’s longest reigning monarch—King Kamehameha III—returned to oversee Thomas Square this week, in the form of a new statue.


Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and sculptor Thomas Jay Warren unveiled the 12-foot-bronze image of the Hawaiian king today (July 31, 2018) at Thomas Square. The Honolulu park was named in honor of Rear Admiral Richard Thomas, of the British Navy, who on July 31, 1843 restored sovereignty to the Kingdom of Hawai‘i, after it had been seized by Englishman Capt. Lord George Paulet.


The Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts funded the statue at a cost of $250,000. The city has also completed $2.8 million worth of improvements to Thomas Square including irrigation, grass, walkways and a flagpole at the urban park across from the Honolulu Museum of Art.


Some critics worry that the multimillion-dollar makeover will commercialize the historic park but this week’s official ceremonies focused on historic observance and the statue.


Lei draping


This 175th anniversary of Lā Ho‘iho‘i Ea (sovereignty restoration day) included a ceremony lowering the British Union Jack and raising the Hawaiian flag, the statue’s dedication, a welcome by Mayor Caldwell, the artist and Hawaiian language specalist Puakea Nogelmeier.


Giant lei were draped on the statue’s outstretched arm. Performances of hula, led by kumu hula Keli‘iho‘omalu Puchalski and the Royal Hawaiian Band, led by bandmaster Clarke Bright, marked the occasion.


Those gathered recalled the fanfare and joy in that first restoration, recounted in the program as written by E. Tory Laitila with Richard Greer in 2013: “ … the Hawaiian flag was raised amid salvos fired from the English and American warships in port, the other merchant and whaling ships in Honolulu, and from the Fort of Honolulu and the Punchbowl artillery battery. A great cheer arose as the wind caught the folds of the Hawaiian flag.”


King Kamehameha statue


Warren is known for his larger-than-life depictions in more than 50 public monuments he created over the last 34 years. His portrait bronze statues have included slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, jazz musician John Coltrane, and civil and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth.


The 1,200-pound statue was created at the Artworks Foundry in Berkeley, California.




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Honolulu Magazine October 2018
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