From left: Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, former Sen. Daniel Akaka, and Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui at the Aloha Order of Merit ceremony at the State Capitol.

HONOLULU – Gov. Neil Abercrombie and members of the Legislature honored former U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka as he was inducted into the Aloha Order of Merit on Jan. 14 at the Hawaii State Capitol.

Remarks were provided by Akaka as well as Abercrombie, Speaker of the House Calvin K.Y. Say, Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, and Aloha Order of Merit Committee Chair Sen. Brickwood Galuteria.

Ceremonial elements included presentation of the official Aloha Order of Merit medallion to the honoree, oli and pule by Kahu Danny Akaka Jr., and performances by Malia Kaai-Barrett and the Kawaiahao Church Choir.

“The Aloha Order of Merit is one of our highest honors in recognition of individuals who have provided extraordinary service and brought great honor to the State of Hawaii,” Abercrombie said. “I can think of no one who exemplifies devotion to the people of Hawaii and embodies the aloha spirit more than Sen. Akaka.”

The Aloha Order of Merit was established in 1993 by the Legislature to honor individuals who have distinguished themselves nationally or internationally and who contributed to the attainment of statehood or have provided extraordinary service to, devoted themselves to the betterment of, or brought honor to the state. Upon request of the governor, members of the order may serve as emissaries for the people of Hawaii.

Selection of the honoree is made by the Aloha Order of Merit Committee, which consists of Galuteria, Rep. Faye Hanohano and Noelani Kalipi, and announced by the governor after receiving the approval of the Legislature by concurrent resolution.

Akaka, 88, served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 14 years before being appointed to the Senate — becoming its first Native Hawaiian member — following the death of Sen. Spark Matsunaga in 1990. After being elected in 1990, 1994, 2000 and 2006, Akaka chose not to seek another term, and his last day in office was Jan. 2.

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