Maui News

State designates July 31 “A Special Day of Observance” remembering Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea

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Left to Right: Kalani Kalima, Juanita Mahienaena Brown Kawamoto, Leimomi Khan, Rep. Mark Nakashima (speaking), Daniel Anthony (with Puea Aea, son), Imai Winchester. PC: Hawaiʻi House of Representatives

A bill was signed into law, recognizing and designating July 31 of each year as Lā Ho‘iho‘i Ea, “a special day of observance.” 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.

Lawmakers say it also provides an important opportunity for Hawaiʻi residents to learn more about a unique and meaningful chapter in history.

HB 2475 was introduced by Representative Mark Nakashima (Hamakua, North & South Hilo), who chairs the Committee on Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs. The Bill was signed into law on June 17, 2022 as Act 82 by Governor David Ige who held a Commemorative Bill Presentation in his office on Monday morning.

Bill signing ceremon. PC: Hawaiʻi House of Representatives

In 1840, the British Ambassador to Hawaiʻi 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 Admiral 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, Lā Ho‘iho‘i Ea.

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“From Hamakua to Honolulu and other places near and far Hawaiians have made great efforts to preserve the memory of this day. 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,” said Rep. Nakashima

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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 Lā Ho‘iho‘i Ea in Honolulu said the legislation provides recognition to past community leaders that worked hard to connect people with history long before he got involved. “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 who calls Hawaiʻi home.

Lynette Cruz, a retired educator and one of the primary organizers of Lā Ho‘iho‘i Ea events in Waiʻanae, said, “Final passage of this legislation means the general public will have an opportunity to learn about Hawaiʻi’s history while giving Hawaiians another avenue to share it.”

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Healani Sanoda-Pale is a member of Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi and was an early supporter. She says continued perpetuation will be a hallmark of the new law. “Those of us who have worked to ensure Lā 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.”

“Each year, this proclamation will present an exceptional opportunity to inform all of Hawai’i and especially our future generations of the important and uniquehistory of our islands,” said Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey. “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 Hawaiʻi by the United Kingdom,” said Lindsey.

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