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Kaimiloa and the Cadet Band

Hawai‘i State Archives

A cadet band was assigned to the Hawaiian naval ship Kaimiloa. The apprentice seamen of the crew, who were juvenile inmates from the Reformatory School, served double duty as the band members.

As a form of rehabilitation at the Reform School, these Hawaiian youths were trained in band instruments and music by Capt. Henri Berger, the bandmaster of the Royal Hawaiian Band.

The Cadet Band’s leader was Charles Palikapu Kaleikoa, a 17 year old ex-inmate of the Reform School. In 1884 at the age of 14, Kaleikoa was imprisoned for deliberately breaking a street lamp while out and about town with Prince Kawānanakoa, 16, and Prince Kalaniana‘ole, 13. While incarcerated, Kaleikoa trained under Berger. After Kaleikoa was released, Berger hired him for the Royal Hawaiian Band. In 1887, Kaleikoa was loaned to the Kaimiloa to lead the band.

While the Kaimiloa was in Samoa in 1887, the Cadet Band performed concerts in Apia, the capital city, and around Samoa. The Hawaiian Consul reported: August 23, 1887. Her (Kaimiloa’s) cadet band also became popular and their concerts were an appreciated treat to the Apians.

After the Kaimiloa returned to Honolulu, Charles Palikapu Kaleikoa resumed his position with the Royal Hawaiian Band, where he served for 40 years and retired as assistant band leader.