HONOLULU — Honolulu has dedicated a statue of King Kamehameha III to mark the 175th anniversary of Sovereignty Restoration Day.
The city celebrated Hawaiian culture and history on Tuesday as it unveiled the 12-foot (3.7-meter) bronze statue in Thomas Square, the site where rule was restored to Kamehameha on July 31, 1843.
The ceremony was timed to the exact hour when five months of British occupation was ended by British Royal Navy Rear Adm. Richard Thomas, Puakea Nogelmeier, a retired University of Hawaii professor, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
The $250,000 statute was outfitted with lei during the ceremony and guarded by Honolulu firefighters dressed in 19th century uniforms. Kamehameha founded Hawaii’s fire department and shared power with three branches of government during his 29-year rule.
“This is Kamehameha III’s place at Thomas Square, and it’s fitting that it have a statue of Kamehameha III, not Adm. Thomas,” Mayor Kirk Caldwell said. “He gets the name but he doesn’t get the statue.”
The city celebrated the restoration of power Tuesday by lowering the British flag and raising the Hawaiian flag. The statue by artist Thomas Jay Warren depicts Kamehameha’s arm raised to the Hawaiian flag, with one foot planted in the past and the other lifted to the future, Caldwell said.
Caldwell told those gathered that the ceremony represented “our ongoing story of our people — all of our people, whether you’ve got the koko of the Hawaiian blood or whether you showed up last week, or you’re one of the immigrant groups that came to work the plantations. We’re all part of that story today.”