Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, Celebrated on Maui with Memorial Paddle Out
Today marks 178th Anniversary of Hawaiʻi’s First National Holiday, Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, or Sovereignty Restoration Day.
Unique to the Maui celebration was a paddle out in honor of Kumu Haunani Kay Trask at Kāʻanapali Beach, which drew more than 200 participants. Trask, described as a “distinguished educator” and “fearless advocate of Native Hawaiian rights,” fought for self-determination for Hawaiians and was the founding director of Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies at UH Mānoa. She died earlier this month on July 3.
“Honoring Haunani Kay Trask today is fitting because she is one of the kumu that helped us decolonize (and) remember,” said Tiare Lawrence, who joined Lahaina families in organizing the event. “It feels right to remember and continue the legacy of our kupuna here at Kāʻanapali on a beach that we have been alienated from because of tourism’s symptom of American colonization,” said Lawrence.
Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea was established in 1843 under Kamehameha III, Kauikeaouli, recognizing his sovereign authority and restoring ea (life, sovereignty) to the Hawaiian Kingdom. It marks the day on July 31, 1843, when a five-month British occupation of Hawaiʻi came to an end.
It was on this day 178 years ago that Kauikeaouli was said to have rejoiced with his famous words, “Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono” (The sovereignty/life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness).
Participants in the paddle out raised their voices in unison, calling: “Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea,” recognizing the purpose of the day; “Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono,” the motto/phrase made famous by Kauikeaouli, “Ea Mai Kekai Mai,” (Arise from the sea!), and “We are not American,” a phrase tied to Trask from her 1993 speech during the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
Numerous Hawaiian flags were placed in the sand across the beach and along Puʻu Kekaʻa “Black Rock,” which is often crowded with tourists. “Our ‘ohana belong to these beaches, and we have to remember that,” said Lawrence. “We move forward to educate and find the courage to tell the truth and mālama our ʻāina and our people,” she said.
The celebration on Maui started at 9 a.m. with the raising of the Hawaiian flag. It also included the morning arrival of sailing canoes Moʻokiha and Manaiakalani and waʻa tours, beach games, music, and presentations by Kaleikoa Kaeo, Kanoelani Steward, and Kekai Keahi.
“Both waʻa arrived and have been part of the ceremonies of remembering our Independent Kingdom and kumu who aided in this process,” said organizers.