King David Kalākaua was the last reigning king of Hawaiʻi who sparked the first Hawaiian renaissance in the late 1800s. A multi-talented creative vanguard, he composed many songs including our Hawaiʻi anthem, Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī, and was known as the “The Merrie Monarch” for his love of music and the arts.

King Kalākaua introduced Hawaiʻi to the world and brought the world’s innovations home to the Hawaiian Kingdom. He was the first monarch of any nation to circumnavigate the globe and be honored at a U.S. State Dinner. He sent Native Hawaiian students to study in Europe and Asia and illuminated Iolani Palace with electricity before it was installed at the White House and Buckingham Palace.

Today, his enduring aloha and creative vision for Hawaiʻi lives on, in the Hawaiian pride and innovation he inspired.

Hoʻoulu Lāhui

– motto of King Kalākaua

May our

Native Hawaiian community




After decades of foreign influences, hula had been banned in 1820. At King Kalākaua’s coronation in February of 1883, he featured hula dancers as a vibrant celebration of his Hawaiian heritage. These performances of hula, mele, and oli (songs and chants) were not only extremely popular among the thousands of spectators who gathered to witness the festivities, but they also showed King Kalākaua’s commitment to keeping traditional cultural practices alive as part of his vision to create a modern monarchy during a pivotal time in the Hawaiian Kingdom.

When the coronation dancers performed hula once again on the royal grounds of Iolani Palace, they revived a powerful channel of Hawaiian identity.


Seeing the dual need to preserve ancestral knowledge and promote scientific learning at the end of the nineteenth century, King Kalākaua established a society called Hale Nauā in 1886.

Based on foundational knowledge of Hawaiian genealogy and anchored by the wisdom of the ancient creation chant Kumulipo, King Kalākaua envisioned Hale Nauā as a leading-edge organization to educate Native Hawaiian leaders and perpetuate Native Hawaiian culture via the latest advances in science, art, and literature.

As a Native Hawaiian organization, DAWSON is proud to carry forward the cultural legacy of King Kalākaua by sponsoring the livestream and broadcast of the 2021 Merrie Monarch Festival

power the palace

friends of iolani palace

Ho’oulu Hawai’i

Honolulu Museum of Art