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<em>The Kamehameha statue in front of Ali‘iōlani Hale (aka Five-0 Headquarters). (Courtesy photo)</em>
The Kamehameha statue in front of Ali‘iōlani Hale (aka Five-0 Headquarters). (Courtesy photo)

“Hawaii Five-0” fans may not realize this, but every Monday night we get a glimpse at royalty.

I know to many of you, Alex O’Loughlin plays the King of Five-0, Steve McGarrett, yet there is another face in the credits who was once even greater than Mr. McG. We see this regal gentleman in the opening of the show, when a shot of his famous statue flashes across our screen every Monday evening.

It seems very appropriate to write about King Kamehameha I, also known as Kamehameha the Great or Kamehameha Pai‘ea, this week as we celebrate his royal reign in Hawai‘i.

<em>A classic portrait of Kamehameha the Great. (Courtesy photo) </em>
A classic portrait of Kamehameha the Great. (Courtesy photo)

In Hawai‘i, June 11 (which this year fell fortuitously on “Hawaii Five-0” Monday) is a state holiday for most of us, in which we celebrate Kamehameha Day. Kamehameha I, who was born in the mid 1700’s, was a celebrated Hawaiian monarch, who united the main Hawaiian Islands and formally established the Kingdom of Hawai‘i in 1810. He ruled until his death in 1819.  In 1883 King Kalākaua erected the famous statue in front of Aliʻiōlani Hale, which is now the state judicial building in Honolulu, and is the known exterior of the Five-0 headquarters.

When “Hawaii Five-0” held its season two premiere during “Sunset on the Beach,” many fans took a bus tour of the island and got a chance to see the famous statue — one of three Thomas R. Gould statues that were created to honor Kamehameha. Unfortunately, the statue does not look like the portraits that survived of Kamehameha, or even of Polynesians of the time, and while it was created to represent the great king, the statue recalls Roman statuary because of its European facial features.

For the most part, Kamehameha Day is celebrated on O‘ahu with a floral parade through Honolulu and the draping of lei on the Kamehameha statue in front of Ali‘iōlani Hale. It typically is a day of leisure for local folks as most state and city agencies are closed. Other lei draping ceremonies are held on Hawai‘i Island where the original Gould statue sits at Kamehameha’s birth place, and in Washington D.C. where the third Gould replica stands in the Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.

<em>Fans pose for a photo in front of the Kamehameha statue and Ali‘iōlani Hale. (Courtesy photo)</em>
Fans pose for a photo in front of the Kamehameha statue and Ali‘iōlani Hale. (Courtesy photo)

The annual floral parade is an amazing visual representation of the royal pa‘u riders who are the symbols of the royal court on horseback. It is made up of the queen and her princesses who represent each island. She wears a pa‘u—a large skirt that drapes over her horse — in the color of her island.

Additionally, all of the flowers that decorate her hair and her horse are also from her representative island. The riders and their horses are absolutely exquisite and it is a huge honor for a woman to be asked to be a pa‘u rider in the Kamehameha Day parade.

AS FOR our “Hawaii Five-0” connection, I believe the most the show has really talked about Kamehameha was in the episode when Mamo re-enacted the Battle of the Nu‘uanu in “Kūpale.” The Battle of Nu‘uanu was one of the most famous battles Kamehameha fought, as this was the battle which completed his quest to unify the Hawaiian islands.

In this battle Kamehameha fought Kalanikūpule who was the King of O‘ahu, for control of the island. After Kamehameha defeated O‘ahu at the Nu‘uanu Pali, another shooting location for “Hawaii Five-0,” the last island in the chain, Kaua‘i, peacefully capitulated to Kamehameha, and the Kingdom of Hawai‘i was complete. The Kamehameha line lasted until the death of Kamehameha V, Lot Kapuāiwa, in 1872. Lot Kamehameha offered Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop the crown on his deathbed, but she declined the throne, instead starting the Kamehameha Schools and the Bishop Museum, which continues to serve her people today.

<em>Nā Koa warriors prepare for battle in the "Hawaii Five-0" episode "Kūpale." (Courtesy CBS)</em>
Nā Koa warriors prepare for battle in the "Hawaii Five-0" episode "Kūpale." (Courtesy CBS)

In Mamo’s reenactment on the show, the “battle” was shot at the Kualoa Ranch, not actually at the Nu‘uanu Pali. Many of you may recognize the valley from other famous movies and from the opening scene of the “Hawaii Five-0” Pilot episode as it doubled for “North Korea.” Mamo and the Nā Koa warriors in the scene are authentically dressed in malo.

Mamo also wears an ‘ahu ‘ula, or feather cloak, as well as the mahiole, or feathered warrior helmet. Modern artist Herb Kane created the most famous picture of the Battle of Nu’uanu, and in the painting, we can see the viciousness of the battle as well as the accurate dress. The fierce facial expressions of the actors in the scene are very telling of the brutal forces of Kamehameha’s against Kalanikūpule’s army.

So we are lucky enough to celebrate the great King Kamehameha on June 11 every year with a parade and a summer holiday, and are just briefly reminded of him every Monday night while we watch the “Hawaii Five-0” credits.

But I am pleased we still talk about Kamehameha, even if perhaps we do not always think of his impact on Hawai‘i and her people. I am always pleased when a fan comes to my home and wants to see the statue because they recognize it from “Hawaii Five-0.” It always allows me to tell them Kamehameha’s story and the to tell them the truth of our history and culture — which is always a joy to any Hawaiian.

So thank you, “Hawaii Five-0,” for giving me that opportunity to tell as story about a great King who once lived and ruled with a Nā Koa heart.

Redux Side Note:

This week’s episode was a repeat of the episode “Pahele” and on Saturday, June 16, there will be a special showing of the season two opener, “Ha‘i‘ole.”

The Oahu Five-0 fans will be gathering at Big City Diner Pearlridge on Saturday, June 16 at 5:30 p.m. to watch the 8 p.m. show of “Ha‘i‘ole.” Come and join us for “Hawaii Five-0 Summer Hiatus Therapy.” There will be ‘ono food, great company, and fun episode to watch and discuss. You can RSVP here and let us know you will be joining us!
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher who lives and works in Honolulu. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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  • Great article Wendie! 

    How fascinating it is to learn so many great things about your beautiful islands.  Sometimes we forget that Hawaii was a sovereign nation before she became our 50th state.  The only state in our union to have that distinction.  Yes, we are a “melting pot” but we must never forget where we all came from.  Whether we’re Italian, Irish, German, Spanish or Hawaiian. 

    It’s so wonderful Hawaii still remembers her history and celebrates it to the fullest.  Thank you for always making sure we don’t just see Hawaii as a sound stage for our favorite show but as a wonderful, beautiful place full of history and culture. 

    • Thanks for commenting Linda;) I just thought it would be interesting to know the story behind the statue in the credits- and since yesterday June 11 was Kamehameha Day- seemed appropriate:) Thanks hon! Wendie

  • Even as someone who grew up in Hawaii and went to Kamehameha, I find your posts informative.  Not to mention enjoyable.  It’s wonderful that a fun show like this can open a window on Hawaiian culture and history for the rest of the world.

    • Thanks Nanea:) It’s hard to find that balance between giving out too much info so that someone who knows our culture says- “Knew that- boring!” to the person who doesn’t know anything and wants more. Thanks for reading and your comment! Aloha, Wendie

  • Mahalo Nui Loa for yet another AWESOME Hawaiian History lesson!! I enjoy your posts & I love how you are always able to connect it to the show…GREAT job yet again!!!

  • This is what I love about your blog, Wendie.  There are quite a few bloggers out there who write about the show, but yours always has that little something extra; a different insight, or a connection to that “5th character” of the show, Hawaii. For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to visit your state, you provide us a little taste of the real Hawaii.  Keep up the good job!  I know it’s difficult during hiatus. LOL

  • Wendie as a life time learner- I so enjoy your blogs on things “not so- Five O” always find out something new and interesting….. but I love your Five O stuff too ;)))

  • Loved this article Wendy, really love learning about Hawaiian culture. Thats what sets you apart from other recaps you not only write about are beloved fab five-0’s, you also give us a great interesting history lesson each week. It’s always the first recap I want to read for those reasons, keep up the great work Wendy. ;)))

    • Thanks Suzie! Appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. I know there are other blogs out there that review the show just as I do in the Redux, so your comment is really great to read! Mahalo for the support! Aloha, Wendie

  • Wendie, I learn more about Hawaii and Hawaiian culture reading your blog than possibly anywhere else on the web. The way you are able to connect the past to the present is a gift that not many writers have. I look forward to a visit in September to see the Kamehameha statue and many other sites I’ve currently only known from watching Five-0 and reading the Redux.  <3

    • Thanks so much for reading Stephanie! The statue and other sights on O’ahu are so much better to see in person. I’m glad you are going to be able to experience all of it when you get here in Sept! Thanks for the support:) Aloha, Wendie

  • Hey Wendie:  I’m so glad you shared the history behind the famous statue outside of Five-0 HQ as well as the battle enactment the “Kupale” episode – that was so insightful and interesting.  I have to commend you for making the cultural history event around the show so much more fun and interesting to read about. Mahalo for the awesome blogs you write.  Keep up the great work.  The more I know about the culture and the history about the island the more I love the show.  You are in many ways for us a wonderful spokesperson about Hawaiian culture and way of life – your blogs surely make me feel as though I’m on this journey to paradise with your wonderful insight into the culture, arts and all its natural beauty. Even though the show’s on hiatus we are so lucky to have friends like you who can make Hawaii home for us -the “haole’s” who live abroad.

    • Thanks Val- that’s really great of you to say:) I’m glad you and others are finding the information meaningful and that it helps make your viewing richer:) Mahalo for taking the time to read and comment! Aloha, Wendie

  • Not much of my Hawaiian Studies lessons stuck with me after UH, so even for me it’s fun to read and learn things about Hawaii from your blog.  And connecting it to #H50 is always a fun way to get me (AND lots of others) hooked in. 😉  Thank you for always giving us insight to our wonderful and unique Hawaiian culture, Wendie!  U da BEST Hawaiian teacha EVA! (Don’t grammar correct me on that!) 😛

    • LOL Lisa! Thanks! I love your grammar! Thanks for the support! It’s nice to know that many of the H50hana support each other in all kind of ways. Thanks for the comment. Glad you are liking the Hawaiian culture info fused with Hawaii Five-0 info:) Mahalo! XO Wendie

  • Obviously I couldn’t wait till I got home 🙂
    I find it interesting to learn more about Hawaii, it’s culture & history. It may have started with Hawaii 5-0, but because of your detailed telling I keep wanting to find out even more.
    Before I visit a country I try to learn as much about it as I can, for one out of respect, but especially in order not to inadvertantly insult anyone. With Five-O Redux & esp. your articles I don’t need to search for the right place to get the right answers.
    I now also feel kind of a connection, because the Day you celebrate King Kamehameha also is my Birthday.
    Mahalo nui loa for another little history lesson about Hawaii as I’ve come to call your articles.

    • Thanks so much for reading and commenting:) Happy belated birthday! What a great birthday celebration you would have if you were here on your day! A parade and a state holiday:) So fun! Aloha, Wendie

  • Hey Wendie!  Love learning about Hawaii from you, always informative AND entertaining!  The pic from #H50 tour brings back great memories!
    ok my computer is possessed and posted under the wrong name..this is Deb. Y.

  • Hey, Wendie – thanks so much for the history lesson! I don’t always get a chance to read your latest entries in a timely fashion, but I DO look for them each week, and I would sorely miss them if you weren’t continuing to write during the summer hiatus! 

    I have to say, H5-0 and your history lessons, have definitely helped the tourism industry for Oahu! When I come to visit Oahu this summer, I do not plan on simply lazing away the days on the beach at Waikiki, but heading out to the north shore, taking in the Bishop Museum, maybe hiking around Diamond Head – and hopefully getting a picture taken with King Kamehameha!  In other words, I plan on broadening my horizons (well, I WILL take in the usual tourist haunts – maybe LisaLisa 98 will have to take me shopping!

    I do have a history question for you: in the S1 tsunami ep., Gracie is safely ensconced with Kamekona and his family for the duration of the tsunami warning. When Danny calls to check up on her, Kamekona and his cousins are re-enacting a famous battle where the losing warriors are falling over the edge of the mountain ridge to their deaths.  What battle was this? I vaguely remember this story…but not clearly.

    •  I remember that Lynnette.  Kamekona said they were re-enacting the “unification of the Hawaii Islands”.  So it must have been one of the battles Wendie was describing.  It’s all so fascinating, isn’t it??

    • Thanks Lynnette! glad you like the fact that I’m still writing this summer:) And would love you to see more of O’ahu when you visit! I think you will really love learning more about us and have a better idea of what happens in “Hawaii Five-0” 😀 Awesome! Thanks for reading and the comment! Aloha, Wendie

  • While I knew there were at least two matching Kamehameha statues, I didn’t realize there was a third in DC as well — nor that they date back to the late 1800’s.

    Learning more about the history, the people, and the culture of Hawaii is definitely a very cool aspect of the new H50, and great Hawaii-based blogs like the Five-0 Redux are an invaluable asset in that regard. 🙂

    Speaking of… we noticed last October that the clock-faces on the Ali’iolani Hale clock-tower all seemed to be stopped on different times; d’you know if there’s any significance to the different times, or is it just random chance?

    Thanks again, Wendie!

    • Thanks Bert- there’s actually 5- Honolulu, D.C & Kohala. Then there is one in Hilo and one on Maui. There’s also one in Vegas, but I’m not sure if that’s an official statue LOL 😀 I’m not sure about the clock times. I bet it is random and based on when they take the ariel shots? Interesting question! I wonder if anyone could tell us more about that…. Thanks so much for commenting! Glad you are enjoying learning more about Hawaii:) Aloha, Wendie

  • Wendie,
    Thanks for spending part of your summer vacation from teaching school children to teaching us older folks. That means me since I watched the original Five0. Your posts bring a decided local connection to not only the show itself, but also the local actors who bring reality to it. Thanks for pointing out that an original copy of the statue is at the US Capitol building. There actually are an amazing collection of statues there with each state being represented. Some people are more famous than others, and some are somewhat questionable. However that is the diversity of the USA.

    I am sure that you have seen and use the new 32c postage Aloha shirts stamps for postcards.

  • Wendie,

    Mahalo for this great story ….. and your efforts for every Hawai’i Five-0 episode.  I have learned a lot from your insights of Hawai’i and its culture ….. but why can this series not truly extend Hawai’i ‘s culture by having the names from people of its culture, whether they be Hawai’ian, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Filipino, Samoan, and so forth ….. instead of having all of the “stars” having haole names (except Kono, I guess).  Like persons in the Bible, the meaning of the characters’ names would enhance the program.


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