Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Hawaiians continue to celebrate the Monarch who united its islands

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Soana Aholelei | Reporter / Director

Hawaii’s King Kamehameha floral parade through the streets of Honolulu has been an annual fixture for 106 years and the 2023 edition didn’t fail to please.

Named after King Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaii islands in 1810, the parade is held in his honour and has become a symbol of cultural and national pride for native Hawaiians and many in the wider community.

For visitors to the islands, it’s another introduction into Hawaiian life and the culture which underpins these islands.

Watching the parade in front of the Iolani Palace was proud Hawaiian Arma R. Oana.

“Kamehameha the Great, is an example of what can be done when you put in effort for the people to make peace. Once the islands were united under one kingdom. Yes, there was war, it took bloodshed to get there,” she says.

“All of these sites right here, the Iolani palace, the Kamehameha statue, the church behind that, the mission houses are all of the archives. This is all our history. This is all almost 100 years old now.”

Hawaiian James Kinimaka who now lives in Australia, was happy to come home to the celebration.

“It’s just amazing. It helps me to reconnect with my culture, my ohana.” he says.

“It’s an experience that you know, you only can see every so often in your lifetime. So, I’m really happy to be here and feeling the vibes.”

Before the parade began, many of those taking part were making final preparations. Among them was the ‘Queen of Pa’u’ and Princesses on horseback, representing the islands of Hawai’i, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Kauaʻi, Kahoʻolawe , Niʻihau and Lāna’i.

From the island of Lāna’i is Likolehua Mehau Tagaroa. She wears a special orange riding dress which drapes the horse she is riding.

“It is used to protect the garments of the old traditional Hawaiians that used to ride on horseback, from the soot that kicks up so, they would protect their undergarments,” she says.

“Today we use this to portray our island of colour and with the lei, of course portraying the island as well.”

This is Likolehua Mehau Tagaroa final year riding as a princess.

This is Likolehua’s final year riding as a princess.

“I’m just following in the footsteps of ohana, my mother. My mother was also very few years back, my grandmother, my great grandmother, my father. So, for me this means a lot a lot to me, more than words can really express.

“This is a special thing and I take very seriously. I like to uphold myself as best I can, you know, to make my family proud, my ohana proud.” Says an emotional Likolehua.

The parade started outside the Iolani Palace with the statue of King Kamehameha draped in lei. Followed with children on floats, marching bands, princesses on horseback, the biggest cheers came from the students from the Polynesian Cultural Centre who were marching with pride.

Oaokaena Kirkland, who helped organise the event says, as soon as the parade ends, they start planning the next one.

“There’s a lot of people that put this event together. It’s not just floats. It’s whole units; there are marching units, there’s cars, there’s trolleys, there’s floats. So, there’s a lot of moving parts to it. I want to say there’s about 50 to 60 different units in it,” says Kirkland.



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