Alii Sunday at Kawaiahao

31 08 2009

Liliu's portrait

Yesterday was Alii Sunday at Kawaiahao Church in Honolulu, honoring Queen Liliuokalani (b. 1838-d. 1917), sister of King David Kalakaua. She reigned as the last monarch of Hawaii from 1891 to 1893 when she was overthrown. Her birthday is September 2.

Each Alii Sunday, the Hawaiian Royal Societies and other ahahui (Hawaiian clubs) walk in the  processional, and the front pews are reserved for them.

Yesterday I attended as a member of the Koolauloa Hawaiian Civic Club with Kamakea, our vice president. We rode in to Honolulu with her son Kaimana, who is a member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I.

This post shares the highlights for me. You may wish to go sometime. Visitors are welcome to Sunday worship service. Portions are in the Hawaiian language. Kawaiahao is part of the United Church of Christ.

Kawaiahao Church is on the corner of King and Punchbowl streets. A plaque describes its construction

Kawaiahao Church is on the corner of King and Punchbowl streets. A plaque describes its construction.

Kawaiahao plaque

The Hawaiian Royal Societies, or Aha Hipuu, are a special sight. They include:

Royal Order of Kamehameha I who wear red and yellow capes over black suits. The different patterns and lengths of the capes indicate rank.

• Hale O Na Alii O Hawaii, whose members wear white with red and yellow capes. Hale O Na Alii O Hawaii at Kawaiahao

Ahahui Kaahumanu, whose formal attire consists of black muumuus, black hats and deep-yellow lei resembling feathers.

Ahahui Mamakakaua—Daughters and Sons of the Hawaiian Warriors wear black with red, black, and yellow capes (some capes have green).

Other groups who were represented on Alii Sunday were the Daughters of Hawaii in their pure white hats and muumuus (they operate the Queen Emma Summer Palace), the children of Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center (QLCC is supported by Liliu’s estate, and its beneficiaries are the orphan and destitute children in Hawaii with preference to those of Hawaiian ancestry), and the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs that strung crown flowers into 52 strands of lei to drape on the statue of Queen Liliuokalani at the Hawaii State Capitol following the service.

Crown flower was Queen’s favorite. The lavender blossom drapes the left side of her portrait, at the top of this post, and the altar in the next photo.

Kawaiahao interior


At left are the Ahahui Kaahumanu ladies in their formal black in the foreground. Aunty Ilima and Aunty Millie in purple muumuu sing Liliuokalani’s compositions, “Tutu” and “Paoakalani.” [See comment below.]

The church service itself was more lively and less formal than the congregational ones I attended in high school, about the last time I went. Admittedly, that was a few decades ago!

Kalowena gave a tribute to Queen Liliuokalani, and in her remarks she wondered, if Liliu’s time and our time coincided, would Google have given her an edge in maintaining Hawaii’s place in the world? Would her compositions be on iTunes, and would she be blogging and twittering?

This Sunday there was frequent applause, lots of “Amens” by the whole congregation, a testimony by a recent member for the sermon, and a hip-hop dance performance of the Black Eyed Peas’s “Where is the Love” by the youth ensemble. Apart from the pipe organist and choir in the back balcony, there was an ohana (family) choir of anyone else who wanted to sing from the front of the church.

Until she became Queen, Liliuokalani led the Kawaiahao Church choir. She composed more than 150 songs. Some were lyrics only, some were melodies without lyrics, and the rest were full arrangements. At Sunday’s service we sang “The Queen’s Prayer.” A fitting recessional was her “Aloha Oe” now famous around the world. I felt so sad.  ~ Rebekah

[See comment at the bottom.]

If you go …

Do view the 20 original portraits in oil painted by Susan S. Hoffstot entitled “Alii of Hawaii — The Hoffstot Collection” that are displayed on the walls of the right and left balconies. These were a gift from the artist and her husband William H. Hoffstot, Jr., “… to the glory of God, the honor of the Hawaiian people and the enrichment of the State of Hawaii” and dedicated on September 2, 1973.

[UPDATE: The portraits were painted by Patric Bauernschmidt, not Susan S. Hoffstot. Please read the comment by Patric’s granddaughter André below.]

In addition to the church building are other historical structures. One is the tomb of King Lunalilo. Read the plaque explaining why Lunalilo is not buried at the Royal Mausoleum with the other monarchs.

Lunalilo's tomb

Another is a fountain on the King street side of the church. That’s the Library of Hawaii and Honolulu Hale city hall in the background.

Kawaiahao fountain

Kawaiahao fountain sign

The motto translates, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."

And a third is the seal on the gate to Lunalilo's tomb. "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono." This motto became the Hawaii state motto, and it means, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

Rev. Rebekah Luke has a healing ministry and is ordained by the Universal Life Church. The only two tenets of the ULC are “Freedom of religion” and “Do the right thing.” For more information, click on REIKI HEALING BY OELEN on the menu bar.

Suggested reading:

Liliuokalani. Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen. Mutual Publishing, 1991. ISBN 978-0935180855 Paperbound.

Liliuokalani, Her Majesty Queen. The Queen’s Songbook. Honolulu: Hui Hanai, 1999. Edited by Dorothy Kahananui Gillett and Barbara Barnard Smith. ISBN 0-9616738-7-7 Clothbound Edition and ISBN 0-9616738-8-5 Paperbound Edition.

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7 responses

19 05 2013
Rebekah's Studio

Aloha! If you are referring to “Alii of Hawaii — The Hoffstot Collection” that is displayed on the walls of the right and left balconies of Kawaiahao Church, perhaps not, as they are quite large and difficult to photograph. If I recall, they are also low key (dark). The best way is to view them in person, as you know, and the church is always open. The artist was the now late Patric Bauernschmidt. Mr. and Mrs. Hoffstot purchased the paintings from the artist and donated them to the church.

19 05 2013
Donna

Is there a way to VIEW these paintings online? I tried the Kawaiaha’o official site, but they were not viewable there either. Mahalo.

29 12 2009
André

Oh how wonderful! Thanks so much and thank you for sharing your story/remembrance of her =D

27 12 2009
Rebekah

Thank you SO much for correcting me. How could I have forgotten? Patric mentored me when I first became a member of the National League of American Pen Women, Honolulu Branch. I was 28, and she was fond of advising, “Do it!” She also asked me to pose for her once. It makes sense that the paintings were made by Patric, as she was the foremost portrait artist. Again, my apologies.

26 12 2009
André

Very nice article but I must point out an error. The paintings of the Ali’i are not by Susan S. Hoffstot, though they were given to the church by the Hoffstots in a dedication in 1973. The paintings were simply commissioned by the Hoffstots and in fact painted by my grandmother, Patric Claiborne Bauernschmidt.

Patric, along with her husband and daughter, Katherine Claiborne Clarke, were long time residents of Honolulu and her paintings can be found in many important collections not only in the islands but across the country.

Thank you for reminding people to enjoy the paintings on the upper level, they are certainly a wonderful glimpse into the beauty and history that is Kawaiaha’o.

mahalo, André

4 09 2009
Barbara Vlachos

Very impressive, Rebekah…I am sorry that I did not make this Ali’i Sunday. To hear Millie and Ilima sing is such a treat in addition to seeing all the Hawaiian Societies in full regalia. Thank you for preparing such a wonderful web-and blog-site…You take wonderful pictures and your photography is terrific.

31 08 2009
Rebekah

Dear Readers,
Since I mentioned The Queen’s Songbook, I browsed through my copy again and found that the original title of “The Queen’s Prayer” is “Ke Aloha O Ka Haku —Liliuokalani’s Prayer.” Further, that the “Paoakalani” sung on Alii Sunday was actually “Kuu Pua I Paoakalani.” Both were composed in 1895 while Liliuokalani was imprisoned at Iolani Palace. “Paoakalani” is the title published over another song that Liliuokalani wrote the lyrics to; it is less popular and not as melodic.
The Songbook is a wonderful resource if you are interested in Hawaiian music and the Queen’s life. RL

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