HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaiʻi everyone knows of today is only a result of the leadership of the past.

One leader who played an influential role in the islands is King Kamehameha III, whose name was Kauikeaouli.

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On Saturday, Aug. 14, a festival honoring the King returns to mark its 20th celebration of not just entertainment, but education as well.

After being put on hold due to the pandemic, the Kamehameha Schools’ “Tribute to King Kamehameha III” will return.

The purpose remains the same despite it being through a new virtual platform: to bring honor to a man who cared for his people and share the understanding and importance of place and history.

“Kauikeaouli was a progressive aliʻi who placed a high value on the importance of education,” says Kaimana Barcarse, community strategist for Kamehameha Schools. 

“And it was his government that instituted and provided that free public education for all children which became our education institution, our public education institution today,” Barcarse said.

The festival is usually held in Keauhou on the island of Hawaiʻi, highlighting the significance to the King’s birthplace but also the meaning of Keauhou: “The new path, the new current, the new time.” 

“It’s our intention that any of our visitors as well as our kamaʻāina don’t think of it as a pier to go fishing or a beach to go swimming, but as they come there for whatever reason, they understand and they know and they honor the significance of place because as part of our Hawaiian culture, “He aliʻi ka ʻāina – the land is our chief,” and we need to honor that,” says Barcarse.

The festival has evolved over the past two decades.

One element that has been added is highlighting an organization whose efforts align with those of the beloved King.

“This year, we’re highlighting the Hawaiʻi Council of Hawaiian Civic Clubs which comprises of clubs throughout the island that advocates for Native Hawaiian rights and Native Hawaiian education and to bring to the forefront the issues and the beauty of our culture and our people,” Barcarse said.

Fun fact: Missionaries introduced reading and writing to Hawaii, but it was aliʻi such as Kauikeaouli who made it a priority for his people, leading to a once 95+% literacy rate amongst Native Hawaiians.  

The 20th “Tribute to King Kamehameha III” takes place on Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. online.

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Headlining the event is Hawaiian musician Kainani Kahaunaele. For more information on the free event, click here.