Yesterday morning, I performed with the Punahou Alumni Glee Club at the 33rd annual “Day at Queen Emma Summer Palace.” Yesterday afternoon, I attended a meeting to reorganize Ka Lahui Hawaii, the Native Hawaiian initiative for sovereignty. It was an interesting juxtaposition of Saturday events for me.
One event honored Queen Emma who stood for Hawaii remaining autonomous as its own sovereign nation in an earlier Hawaii ruled by monarchs, and the other represented a continuing call for self determination by the indigenous peoples of the Hawaiian Islands.
The Queen Emma Summer Palace museum is operated by the Daughters of Hawaii, founded in 1903 by seven daughters of American Protestant missionaries “to perpetuate the memory and spirit of old Hawaii and of historic facts, and to preserve the nomenclature and correct pronunciation of the Hawaiian language.”
Queen Emma (Emma Naea Rooke 1836-1885) was the wife of Alexander Liholiho (Kamehameha IV). Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV supported the Hawaiian people through major good deeds, namely the establishment in the late 1850s of Queen’s hospital in Honolulu, originally intended for sick and indigent Hawaiians, and the establishment of the Episcopal Church in Hawaii in 1861 that included the gift of nearby land for St. Andrew’s Cathedral.
Alexander Liholiho died in 1863, shortly after their son Prince Albert Kauikeaouli died at age four. After the reigns of Lot Kamehameha (Kamehameha V) and William Lunalilo, in 1875, Emma ran in an election against Kalakaua to become the next ruler of Hawaii and lost. Emma was unhappy with Kalakaua’s rule, and she considered America an enemy for wanting to possess the Hawaiian Islands. (Source: Hawai‘i the Royal Legacy by Allan Seiden, Mutual Publishing Co., Honolulu, 1992)
The proceeds from yesterday’s fundraiser will help to restore and preserve Queen Emma Summer Palace as well as Hulihee Palace in Kailua-Kona. Queen Emma Summer Palace is a most beautiful spot, built where cool breezes blow down the valley and through a lovely landscaped tropical garden. Imagine women in long white dresses and parasols enjoying tea on the patio or strolling beneath a spreading Chinese miulan tree (Michelia champaca).
Actors portray King Kamehameha IV (Alexander Liholiho a.k.a. Iolani) and Queen Emma (Kaleleonalani) on "A Day at Queen Emma Summer Palace"
On a day like yesterday, $6 bought admission to the palace, the grounds, free parking, and a whole day of live Hawaiian music and hula beginning with the Royal Hawaiian Band. Additionally there were demonstrations of native Hawaiian art—pounding kalo (taro) into poi, weaving lau hala (pandanus leaves), Hawaiian quilting, and sewing lei hulu (feather lei)—and a fashion show. You could buy native plants, very good quality arts and handcrafts, ono (delicious) food, books about Hawaii and curios. The relaxing time was a well-organized la-di-da affair for the public.
The Hawaiian place name of Queen Emma’s summer home, located in upper Nuuanu Valley, is Hanaiakamalama, meaning “the foster child of the light (or moon).” It was here that a docent recommended to me Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen by Liliuokalani as a primer for learning about Hawaiian history.
Soon afterward, in 1993, one hundred years after Queen Liliuokalani and the Hawaiian nation were overthrown by American businessmen and therefore the United States, I became an active citizen of Ka Lahui Hawaii, the grass-roots Native Hawaiian initiative for sovereignty. I started to learn what it was to be Hawaiian through Ka Lahui Hawaii.
Ka Lahui Hawaii was in the news and led the sovereignty movement until about five, maybe seven, years ago. There are many reasons why Ka Lahui Hawaii fell “off the radar,” to quote the words of a fellow citizen. It’s my opinion that activism requires great stamina and wherewithal for success, as well as good organization and support. It can be tiring.
Then some weeks ago I learned that a meeting to reorganize Ka Lahui Hawaii would be held on October 3. Curious about what would transpire, and wanting to support, I went after the Queen Emma gig and unfurled the flag. I can report first hand the good news:
Ka Lahui Hawaii is alive and well. Twenty loyal citizens who could make it to Oahu—including all the past kiaaina (governors) as well as citizen representatives from Hawaii island, Molokai, and several Oahu districts—attended the meeting. By the time I arrived, they had formed the Ka Lahui Hawaii Working Group (because the nation is already formed) that is scheduled to meet on Oahu at 9 a.m., the first Saturday of every month, place to be announced.
Some of the members of the Ka Lahui Hawaii Working Group with the national flag—the Makalii (Pleiades constellation) on a blue field—at the Oct. 3, 2009, meeting in Honolulu. Mililani Trask (seated second from left), Josiah "Black" Hoohuli (seated fourth from left), and Lehua Kinilau (seated fifth from left) each held the office and served as Kiaaina (governor) in the past.
The group decided its mission would be threefold: 1) to reorganize Ka Lahui Hawaii, 2) to communicate and 3) to represent Ka Lahui Hawaii. The group identified and listed current Native Hawaiian sovereignty issues and agreed to make known the Ka Lahui Hawaii position on these issues. They made committee assignments and plans for communicating on the different islands and among islands.
The sentiment was, perhaps in its prior years Ka Lahui Hawaii was ahead of its time. Yesterday the citizens appeared rested, more learned, more mature, and ready to rally once again. When I first became a citizen, women overwhelmingly outnumbered men. Yesterday there were equal numbers of men and women. Perhaps we as individuals have become more balanced, and that quality is now transmitted to the group. Hoomakaukau. (Prepare and make ready.) I truly hope all Ka Lahui Hawaii citizens and honorary citizens will pitch in and unite for the cause.
Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke
If you want to know more about Ka Lahui Hawaii, please read FAQ by clicking on this link here.
Contact me if you would like a copy of the October 3, 2009, KLH Working Group meeting notes emailed to you.