Honoring the King

King Kaumuali‘i is one of Kauai’s most beloved rulers, and from 5 to 10 p.m. Nov. 7 a luau will be hosted at Smith Tropical Gardens as a fundraiser for a life-sized, bronze statue of the King.

“We still have Great Kamehameha Day, but we don’t acknowledge the king that shared this island from bloodshed,” said Aletha Kaohi, president of Friends of King Kaumuali‘i, the nonprofit sponsoring the event.

King Kaumuali’i, who was the last independent ruler of Kauai, reigned from 1794-1810 and eventually surrendered his kingdom to avoid more bloodshed of his people.

“They had assembled an overwhelming force against him and out of grave concern for his people, he conceded his island,” Kaohi said.

The theme for the luau is ‘A’ohe hana nui ke alu’ia, which means “no task is too big when done together by all.”

“We’re calling the whole island of Kauai to do this together,” Kaohi said.

The luau will include a silent auction, no-host bar, silent auction, live entertainment, hula, and the unveiling of a three-foot high bronze model of the statue.

“Normally they destroy the model, but we had it bronzed and it’s back here,” Kaohi said. “The statue will be on exhibit when people walk in as the official greeter.”

Kaohi said the group was inspired to create a life-size statue of the King to honor his legacy and the image for the statue was taken from a photo of Kaumuali’i.

“It’s going to symbolize the sacrifice of giving up his kingdom,” Kaohi said. “It’s long overdue and it is meant to bring hope to all.”

Tickets are $65 at the door for adults and for children ages 5-11, the cost is $40. Adult tickets can be purchased ahead of time for $60, and are available at Banana Patch Studio in Kileua, Aloha Spice Company in Hanapepe, and at the Waimea Visitor Center.

The Friends of King Kaumuali‘i was organizied in 2004 with its sights set on erecting the statue. The project picked up steam in 2012 with an increased effort to get the King’s story told in all Kauai classrooms. In 2013, songwriters composed origional works that stemmed from Kaumuali‘i’s life, and a play was performed at the Russion Fort in 2014 depicting his life.

It was that same year, 2014, that The Friends of King Kaumuali‘i teamed up with Saim Caglayan, of Kilauea, who designed the maquette and is overseeing the production of the statue itself.

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