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Royal Order of Kamehameha I (decoration)

The Order of Kamehameha I was the first chivalric order of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.

Order of Kamehameha I
Royal Order of Kamehameha I.jpg
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
Royal Order of Kamehameha I Grand Cross.gif
Grand Cross and Grand Collar ribbon
Royal Order of Kamehameha I Commander and Companion.gif
Commander and Companion ribbon



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


The Order of Kamehameha I was founded on 11 April 1865 by King Kamehameha V, in memory of his grandfather King Kamehameha I and in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. 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).

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[1]
  • 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 CouncilEdit

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 OrderEdit

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:

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

External linksEdit


  1. ^ 11 Hawaiian subjects, 29 foreigners.
  2. ^ a b c The Royal Tourist—Kalakaua's Letters Home from Tokio to London. Editor: Richard A. Greer. Date: 10 March 1881


  • Medcalf, Donald & Ronald Russell (1978). Hawaiian Money: Standard Catalog: Includes Tokens, Medals & Royal Orders. Honolulu: Nani Stamp & Coin LTD. ISBN 0-931388-00-7.
  • Werlich, Robert (1965). Orders & Decorations of All Nations: Ancient & Modern, Civil & Military. Quaker Press. ISBN 1-151-37961-1.