The models for the Kamehameha statue
It is well known that the models for the King Kamehameha statue were brothers H.E. Col. Robert Hoapili Baker, Royal Governor of Mau'i and H.E. Col. John Tamatoa Baker, Royal Governor of the island of Hawai'i.
And although they were raised as 'brothers' they were in fact 'step' brothers. Their mothers were sisters from the Princely House of Moana and had both married Captain Adam C. Baker, yet only John was the biological son of Captain Baker. Therefore these brothers were in actual fact, first cousins.
Robert Hoapili's father Prince Ikekeleaiku of Kaua'i had died when Robert was very young. Hoapili, as he was called, was then raised by his mother's Ali'i family and went on to adopt his step fathers surname.
King Kalakaua and his Prime Minister Walter M. Gibson deemed it important to commemorate Hawaii's past by memorializing it with a permanent, public monument to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the landing of Captain James Cook with a statue of the founder of a united Hawaiian Kingdom, King Kamehameha I.
Thomas R. Gould a Boston sculptor living in Florence, Italy was commissioned to create the sculpture.
"To aid in the artistic process, the Monument Committee sent photographs of Hawaiian men who fit their representation of what was believed to be Kamehameha's admirable physique. They also included photographs of John Timoteo (Tamatoa) Baker...... fitted in royal adornments to help realize the statue's royal ahu'ula (feather cape), mahiole (helmet) and its rare kaai (feather sash)."
"The image above at left is believed to be a composite image. From the torso up is John Baker; the legs belong to Baker's brother Robert Hoapili, who had the more athletic physique. Hoapili served as aide-de-camp to King Kalakaua and later Royal Governor of Maui from 1886 to 1888."
(The photograph on the right is that of Ali'i Col Robert Hoapili Baker.)
"The two brothers served as the chief models for the statue you see today on Oahu, Hawaii Island and in Washington D.C. and these photos serve as a reminder of the intensive and thoughtful process behind the now internationally recognized symbol of Kamehameha the Great."