Who is the Merrie Monarch?

KalakauaThe Merrie Monarch refers to King David Kalākaua, the last reigning king of the Hawaiian Monarch. Kalākaua ran for election after Kamehameha V passed away without naming a successor. He lost the election, however, to Lunalilo, a high chief who won by a large majority. Just a year later, Lunalilo passed away, also without naming a successor. This time around, Kalākaua was elected to the throne to serve as King of the Hawaiian Monarch. During his reign, Kalākaua made huge contributions to Hawaii that are still known today.

  • Requested the building of Iolani Palace- The only royal palace on U.S. soil
  • Requested a statue of King Kamehameha I be placed outside of the palace to honor the Hawaiian heritage.
  • Signed a tariff that allowed Hawaiian goods, such as sugar and rice, to be exported to the United States tax-free.
  • Reinstituted the art of the Hula, which had been banned in 1830.
  • He brought back the culture of Hawaiians by encouraging hula and other native traditions including language and arts.

Merrie Monarch Hula

King David Kalākaua had a lively personality and enjoyed music, dancing, and being joyful. His legacy lives on today in a number of ways, including the Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long event held each year to celebrate the hula.  The festival has received world-wide recognition for its commitment to honoring and perpetuating the Hawaiian culture. It also helps to support programs that continue to keep its history alive. This year, the festival will be held in Hilo, Hawaii, on the Big Island, from April 5-11 and will feature hula competitions, a parade, and free hula performances.

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