Royal Order of Kamehameha I

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Royal Order of Kamehameha I
Members of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I in 2012
TypeKnightly Order, Dynastic order
CountryThe Kingdom of Hawaii
Royal houseHouse of Kamehameha
Aliʻi NuiWilliam Roback Jr. (2010)

Star of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Kamehameha I

Royal Order of Kamehameha I
(Kamehameha I e Hookanaka)
Badges and sash of the Order
CountryKingdom of Hawaiʻi
MottoE HOOKANAKA (Order of Fraternity)
GradesKnight Grand Cross with Collar
Knight Grand Cross
Knight Commander
Knight Companion
Next (higher)None
Next (lower)Royal Order of Kalākaua

Grand Cross and Grand Collar ribbon

Commander and Companion ribbon

The Royal Order of Kamehameha I (Kamehameha I e Hookanaka) is an order of knighthood established by Kamehameha V in 1865, to promote and defend the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Established by the 1864 Constitution, the Order of Kamehameha I is the second order of its kind in Hawaii.


Appointing a member of the Order was determined by the number of living members in each particular grade. At any given time there could only be:

  • Knight Grand Cross with Collar (CGCOK) – limited to heads of state
  • Knight Grand Cross (KGCOK) – 10 individuals
  • Knights Commander (KCOK) – 30 individuals
  • Knights Companion (KOK) – 50 individuals


After Lot Kapuāiwa took the throne as King Kamehameha V, he established, by special decree, created by the privy council using Article 35 of the Constitution [1] the Order of Kamehameha I on April 11, 1865, named to honor his grandfather Kamehameha I. Kamehameha I was the founder of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the House of Kamehameha. Both native Hawaiians and foreigners could be appointed to the Order, in each instance for distinguished service to the king and the people of Hawaiʻi. Upon its inception, it became the first order of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi actually awarded (the Royal Order of the Cross and Crown was established by King Kamehameha III in 1848 but not awarded until much later). Through the decree of Kamehameha V, the Royal Order of Kamehameha was perpetually created. Its purpose to promote and defend the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hawaii. It is chartered in the Kingdom of Hawaii by the decree of 1865. Although called "The Royal Order of Kamehameha I" today by the Public, it is known as the "Order of Kamehameha I" by its members, in private.

The Order was awarded 57 times by King Kamehameha V, and 82 times by King Kalākaua. Number of awards in the history of the Order:

  • Knights Grand Cross – 40 recipients[2]
  • Knight Commander – 56 recipients
  • Knight Companion – 43 recipients

Recipients of the Order who resided in the Hawaiian Islands received a yearly salary depending upon their grade: a Knight Grand Cross was entitled to an annual stipend of $250; a Knight Commander, to $150; and a Knight, to $75.

The former Royal House of Keoua maintains a family order also named the Royal Order of Kamehameha I.

Grand Council[edit]

The Grand Council of Order, comprising the members of the Order resident in the Hawaiian islands, convened each year. Members absent from the annual meeting without a written message for a valid reason were penalized $20. Among Royal Hawaiian Orders, only this and the Royal Order of Kalākaua I gathered at regular intervals.

Insignia of the Order[edit]

The jewel or badge of the Order is a Maltese cross in gold or silver with white enamel, surmounted by the Hawaiian crown. Rays of gold or silver are placed between the arms of the cross. A white-enamelled disc imposed upon the cross bears an elaborate golden "K" at its center; the blue-enamelled band surrounding the disc is inscribed "KAMEHAMEHA I" in golden letters, together with two golden laurel branches. A comparable disc on the reverse of the badge is inscribed "E HOOKANAKA" ("Order of Fraternity", in Hawaiian).

  • Knight Grand Cross with Collar: Members of this grade wore the badge of the Order dependent from a golden collar, the decorative links of which alternated the monogram "K" (surrounded by a green-enamelled laurel crown) with the royal crown and a small enamelled badge of the Order. The breast star was identical to that worn by Knights Grands Cross.
  • Knight Grand Cross: Knights Grand Cross wore the badge of the Order dependent from a broad red sash, which was edged by a narrow white stripe on each side; the sash was worn over the bearer's right shoulder, its bow (from which the badge, sometimes decorated with brilliants, depended) resting on his left hip. The breast star was an octagonal silver star bearing the uncrowned badge of Order in gold and enamels.
  • Knight Commander: Knights Commander wore the badge of the Order dependent from a red neck ribbon, which was edged in white and bore three white stripes.
  • Knight: Knights of the Order wore the badge on the left breast, suspended from a ribbon of red and white stripes.


Among those awarded with Knights Grand cross were:

Recipients of other classes include:

The Knights Grand Cross with Collar was awarded on two occasions, to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and to Emperor Meiji of Japan.


The purpose of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, as it is known today, is to unite men of Hawaiian descent in fraternal and benevolent work, good moral character, and sound bodily health; to cultivate the cardinal principles of friendship, charity and benevolence; to aid widows and orphans; to improve the social and moral conditions of its members; to provide scholarship assistance; to preserve and perpetuate the ancient culture, customs, and traditions of ancient Hawaiʻi, uplift the Hawaiian people; infuse the spirit of patriotism, loyalty, helpfulness and kindness among its members; advance the interest of its members in every rightful cause, and to encourage and develop leadership.

Today the order has nine Chapters:

  • Moku O Hawaiʻi (Central Oʻahu)
  • Moku O Mãmalahoa (Hilo, Hawaiʻi)
  • Moku O Kaumualiʻi (Kauaʻi)
  • Moku O Kahekili (Maui)
  • Moku O Kalaniana’ole (Molokaʻi)(Inactive)
  • Moku O Kuhio (Windward Oʻahu)
  • Moku O Kona (Kona, Hawaiʻi)
  • Moku O Kapuaiwa (Leeward Oʻahu)
  • Moku O Kohala (Kohala, Hawai'i)
  • Moku O Puna (Puna, Hawai'i)

The last remaining original meeting hall of the order, located at 1162 Kalanianaole Avenue in the Keaukaha community of Hilo, Hawaii, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 20, 1993.[7]

The Royal Order of Kamehameha I continues its work in observance and preservation of some native Hawaiian rituals and customs established by the leaders of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. It is often consulted by the U.S. Government, State of Hawaiʻi and the various county governments of Hawaiʻi in native Hawaiian-sensitive rites performed at state functions.[8]


  1. ^ Kamehameha V (King of the Hawaiian Islands) (1865). Decree to Establish the Royal Order of Kamehameha I. by Authority.
  2. ^ 11 Hawaiian subjects, 29 foreigners.
  3. ^ a b c The Royal Tourist—Kalakaua's Letters Home from Tokio to London. Editor: Richard A. Greer. Date: 10 March 1881
  4. ^ Nacionalnarevija
  5. ^ Familia Regala
  6. ^ "The King's Tour Round the World: Additional Particulars of the Royal Visit to Spain and Portugal". Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands: The Pacific Commercial Advertiser. October 15, 1881. Retrieved December 16, 2016 – via Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
  7. ^ Paul K. Neves. "Kamehameha Hall Nomination form". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  8. ^ Bill Mossman. "Way of the Warrior: Native Hawaiian lecture series reveals ancient secrets". U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. Retrieved 2009-09-28.

External links[edit]