July 29, 2023
180 Years – Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea
July 31st marks the 180th Anniversary of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea - Sovereignty Restoration Day! On this day in 1843, King Kamehameha III was restored to his rightful position as the ruling King of the Hawaiian Islands by Admiral Richard Thomas of the British Royal Navy, ending “the Paulet Affair”, a four-month-long unlawful occupation of the Hawaiian Islands instigated by British naval officer Lord George Paulet.
Upon being restored, King Kamehameha III declared Lā Hoʻihoʻi a national holiday and all over the realm, there was a massive celebration of sovereignty that lasted for 10 days.
Four months later, on November 28, 1843, the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of France issued a Joint Proclamation officially recognizing the Hawaiian Kingdom as an equal, sovereign state and Lā Kuʻokoʻa – Independence Day also was declared a national holiday.
Other countries jumped on board, confirming Hawaii’s sovereignty and entering into treaties, agreements and diplomatic exchanges with the Hawaiian Kingdom. By the end of the 19th Century, Hawaii had 46 treaties with other countries and 137 diplomatic posts (embassies and consulates) all over the world.
Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, the trigger for Hawaiian sovereignty was a testament to the brilliance and foresight of Kau'ikeaouli, Kamehameha III. A year before the Paulet Affair, and unbeknownst to Paulet, Kamehameha III had sent diplomatic envoys from Hawaii — Timoteo Ha’alilio, William Richards and Sir George Simpson — to Europe to negotiate with the governments of Britain and France for formal recognition of the Hawaiian Kingdom as a sovereign nation. The diplomatic team was already in London when word arrived that Paulet had seized Hawaii for the British Crown. In fact, by that time, British officials had already decided to recognize Hawaii’s sovereignty, but had not yet prepared the formal proclamation. Thus, the dispatching of Admiral Thomas to return control of the Hawaiian Islands to the Hawaiian Crown, was an ideal opportunity to demonstrate the British Crown’s recognition of the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
Thomas Square was dedicated commemorating Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea. Even through times when the holiday was forgotten, the place has been living, physical evidence and testament to the fact that the Hawaiian Kingdom is a sovereign state in continuity. Then, on July 31, 2018, the City and County of Honolulu unveiled the statue of King Kamehameha III at Thomas Square, honoring our great king and his great accomplishments.
Then last year, the State of Hawaii Legislators passed a resolution acknowledging Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea as a national holiday of the Hawaiian Kingdom. At the ceremony for the legislation, Imai Winchester, one of the organizers of the annual celebration at Thomas Square said:
"I offer the challenge for the people of Hawaiʻi to learn and to understand our deep and nuanced history, to challenge the state to continue to seek to do what is right on behalf of the Hawaiian people of all ethnicities.
"So on behalf of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, who celebrates not just here in Honolulu but celebrates around ko Hawaiʻi pae ʻāina and around the world and all the communities who rise in solidarity for peace and for justice, we accept this as a noble step forward in our path towards liberation."
The celebrations of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea and Lā Kuʻokoʻa and other holidays of the kingdom are not only reminders of events past, they serve as proof and affirmations that, standing on those firm foundations, the Hawaiian Kingdom still lives today.
“Love of country is deep-seated in the breast of every Hawaiian, whatever his station.” — Queen Liliʻuokalani
Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono.
The sovereignty of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.
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