HONOLULU — House Bill 2475, signed into law by Gov. David Ige as Act 82, recognizes and designates July 31 of each year as La Ho‘iho‘i Ea, a special day of observance.
It also provides an important opportunity for Hawai‘i residents to learn more about a unique and meaningful chapter in history.
The day recognizes the accomplishments of King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III, who worked to restore the sovereignty of the Hawaiian kingdom, and seeks to honor upstanding members of the Hawaiian community today.
The bill was introduced by state Rep. Mark Nakashima (Hamakua, North and South Hilo), who chairs the Committee on Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs.
In 1840, the British ambassador to Hawai‘i along with a captain in the British Royal Navy raised the union jack in Honolulu to symbolize they had unilaterally taken control of the islands.
In response, Kauikeauoli dispatched diplomatic envoys to Britain to explain their case to the court of Queen Victoria, which ultimately sided with the Hawaiians.
Later, British Adm. Richard Thomas would arrive in Honolulu to remove the ambassador and the captain, allowing for the Hawaiian flag to once again be raised, with the official return of power to the king taking place on July 31, 1843. To commemorate the occasion for his kingdom, Kamehameha III established the date of sovereignty restoration as its first national holiday, La Ho‘iho‘i Ea.
“From Hamakua to Honolulu and other places near and far, Hawaiians have made great efforts to preserve the memory of this day,” said Nakashima.
”While they clearly do not need it, it is only right that now there is an official day of recognition from the state under which they can celebrate this momentous occasion,” he said.
Modern celebrations began in 1987 started by Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell, and activists Soli Niheu and Imai Kalahele; all of whom have since passed. But their work lives on with celebrations at Thomas Square and beyond as a way for Hawaiians of today to connect with their cultural heritage.
Imaikalani Winchester, one of the organizers of La Ho‘iho‘i Ea in Honolulu, said the legislation provides recognition to past community leaders who worked hard to connect people with history long before he got involved. Said Winchester: “This kind of recognition is important to our collective identity, and we have a responsibility to advance a piece of history that belongs to everyone that calls Hawai‘i home.
Lynette Cruz, a retired educator and one of the primary organizers of La Ho‘iho‘i Ea events in Wai‘anae, said, “Final passage of this legislation means the general public will have an opportunity to learn about Hawai‘i’s history while giving Hawaiians another avenue to share it.”
Healani Sanoda-Pale is a member of Ka Lahui Hawai‘i, and was an early supporter of the measure. She says continued perpetuation will be a hallmark of the new law.
“Those of us who have worked to ensure La Ho‘iho‘i Ea was perpetuated and cared for over these many years are happy to know this new law of the state makes it a day of honor so that future generations can continue creating connections to our cultural past,” she said.
“It was King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III who established this first national holiday of the Hawaiian kingdom following the return of the government by the United Kingdom, proclaiming ‘Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘aina i ka pono — the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness,’ which would become the motto of the monarchy and in 1959 the official motto of the state of Hawai‘i,” said Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey, chair of the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
“Each year, this proclamation will present an exceptional opportunity to inform all of Hawai‘i and especially our future generations of the important and unique history of our islands,” she said.
“It has been said that only by remembering our past can we breathe ea — sovereignty and independence — into our future. Mahalo to Rep. Mark Nakashima for introducing this bill, to our state legislators and to Gov. Ige, by signing it into law, recognizing the importance of King Kamehameha III’s established holiday in a days-long celebration following the rightful return of sovereign government to Hawai‘i by the United Kingdom.”
Source: The Garden Island