Heroes of Hawaii and Their Statues
King Kamehameha I, Duke Kahanamoku, Saint Damien and Saint Marianne were heroic figures in Hawaii’s history. They are honored today with iconic Hawaii statues.
Duke Kahanamoku’s legendary swimming ability helped him to win five Olympic medals in the early 1900’s. He was also one of the first Waikiki Beach Boys, watermen who taught first-time visitors to Oahu how to surf and canoe.
Later in life, Duke went on to spread the popularity of surfing and the spirit of aloha to the world. His statue, which is on Kuhio Beach facing lively Kalakaua Avenue, welcomes all visitors to Waikiki with open arms.
King Kamehameha I
Kamehameha was born in North Kohala on Hawaii Island. He united the Hawaiian Islands into one royal kingdom in 1810 during a time of increasing western influence. His legendary strength and ferocity as a warrior was tempered by his diplomatic skill and his love for the Hawaiian people.
There are four commissioned statues of King Kamehameha. The most famous stands in front of Aliiolani Hale (across from Iolani Palace) in Downtown Honolulu on the island of Oahu. The second is located near his birthplace in front of the North Kohala Civic Center on Hawaii Island. The third stands in Wailoa River State Park in Hilo on Hawaii Island. The last statue can be found in National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C.
In 1873, Belgium priest Father Damien arrived in Molokai. Islanders afflicted with the contagious Hansen’s disease were kept segregated here on the isolated Kalaupapa peninsula. After sixteen years of selflessly caring for the people of Kalaupapa, Father Damien himself succumbed to the disease. His selfless acts have earned him sainthood status and he was canonized in Rome in October 2009.
His three Hawaii statues are located in front of the State Capitol in Downtown Honolulu on the island of Oahu, in front of St. Joseph’s Church on Molokai and in National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C.
Blessed Saint Marianne Cope
Father Damien was not alone in his passion to provide care for Hansen's disease victims in Hawaii. Mother Marianne Cope was head of her religious order and had already proven herself as a capable administrator at the St. Joseph Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y. when she and other Sisters of Saint Francis answered a request from King Kalakaua and traveled to the islands in 1883. A year after her arrival, she was asked to oversee the Branch Hospital in Kakaako on Oahu and in the same year, she established the Malulani Hospital on Maui. In 1885, Mother Marianne founded the Kapiolani Home for homeless girls who were left behind when their parents with Hansen's disease were exiled to the remote peninsula of Kalaupapa, Molokai. In 1888, a few months before the death of Father Damien, Mother Marianne joined him in Kalaupapa where she not only carried on his life's work, but also implemented many innovations of her own.
Mother Marianne was canonized on October 21, 2012. Her remains were moved to Syracuse, New York, in 2005 and returned to Our Lady of Peace Cathedral in Honolulu, Hawaii, in July 2014. Today, her bronze statue overlooks the ocean at Kewalo Basin Park in Honolulu.