History of the King Kalakaua Statue
Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
This statue of Hawaii's King David Kalakaua sits
in the middle of a small triangle park at the
intersection of Kalakaua Avenue and Kuhio Avenue in Waikiki.
Kathleen Walling Fry
The Waikiki King Kalakaua statue was commissioned by the
Oahu Kanyaku Imin Centennial Committee on behalf of the
Japanese-American community of Hawaii to commemorate
the 100th anniversary of the first Japanese
contract plantation workers arriving Hawaii.
The statue was donated to the City and County of
Honolulu by the Oahu Kanyaku Imin.
About King Kalakaua
Hawaii's King David Kalakaua was born in 1836 and he
ruled Hawaii from February 12, 1874 until his death on
January 20 1891. King Kalakaua and his wife
Queen Kapiolani traveled extensively and they met personally with
the leaders of many different countries during their reign.
Statue Honors the King's Contribution to Japanese Immigration
In 1985, the State of Hawaii celebrated the 100 year anniversary
of the first Japanese contract workers arriving in the Kingdom of
Hawaii to work as laborers on Hawaii's sugar cane
plantations. As part Hawaii's Japanese Immigration Centennial Celebration,
Oahu Kanyaku Imin and its president Kenji Goto agreed to provide
funding and other support for the design, creation, and erection
of a statue honoring King David Kalakaua's efforts to
encourage Japanese immigration to Hawaii.
How King Kalakaua Encouraged Japanese Immigration
King Kalakaua traveled to the United States in the 1870's to secure
the Trade Reciprocity Treaty of 1876, an agreement
which led to an expansion of the sugar industry in Hawaii
and increased the demand for laborers to work
on Hawaii's sugar plantations. During an 1881 visit to Japan,
King Kalakaua encouraged Japanese emperor Meiji to send
immigrants to Hawaii to help relieve the labor shortage
on Hawaii's sugar plantations. That visit resulted in
the signing of the Japan-Hawaii Labor Convention and
the immigration of more then 200,000 Japanese citizens
to Hawaii between 1885 and 1924.
Contributors to the Statue
Oahu Kanyaku Imin and its then president Kenji Goto
contributed approximately $350,000 to fund this project.
Several people worked jointly on the artistic design
and physical and structural properties of the statue
including Native Hawaiian historian, musician, and fine arts expert
Palani Vaughan, professional architect Leland Onekea who
designed the base of the statue, and Native Hawaiian
sculptor Sean Browne. The foundation for the statue was laid
by the Masons of Hawaii. Palani Vaughan composed a new song
for the dedication ceremony and he continues to host an annual
celebration held at the statue on the King's November 16
birthday to honor the monarch's memory and achievements.
About Sculptor Sean Browne
Sculptor Sean Kekamakupaa Kaonohiokalani Lee Loy Browne
was born and raised on Hawaiian homestead lands in
Keaukaha, Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. He graduated
from Kamehameha Schools, attended college
at the University of Redlands and the University of Hawaii.
He studied stone carving in Italy and Japan under
a Fulbright Fellowship and also with master sculptor
Isamu Noguchi. Sean Brownee currently teaches sculpture
in the Kapiolani Community College Art Department.
Palani Vaughan's Annual Birthday Celebration at the Statue Site
In exchange for the statue being donated to the City and
County of Honolulu, the city agreed to improve the site and
sponsor an annual birthday observance for King Kalakaua every year
on November 16th. That birthday celebration has occurred every
year since 1993. Palani Vaughan organized and hosted the
celebration for the first few years. The Freemasons
of Hawaii now handle the logistics of organizing the event
but Palani Vaughan continues to host the Annual King Kalakaua
Birthday Celebration at the Waikiki King Kalakaua Statue.
Photo of the Park in Which the Statue is Located
Other Oahu Statues
About King Kalakaua
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