(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi will officially recognize Lā Ho‘iho‘i Ea, or Sovereignty Restoration Day, with a special day of observance every year on July 31st.
House Bill 2475, introduced by State Representative Mark Nakashima (Hamakua, North & South Hilo), was signed into law by Governor David Ige on June 17, 2022 as Act 82. A Commemorative Bill Presentation was held on Monday morning.
According to a Hawaiʻi House Democrats news release, the day “provides an important opportunity for Hawaii 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 House wrote:
In 1840, the British Ambassador to Hawaii 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.
“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
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 Hawaii home.”
Lynette Cruz, a retired educator and one of the primary organizers of Lā Ho‘iho‘i Ea events in Waianae, said, “Final passage of this legislation means the general public will have an opportunity to learn about Hawaii’s history while giving Hawaiians another avenue to share it.”
Healani Sanoda-Pale is a member of Ka Lahui Hawaii 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.”
Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey provided this statement on the Commemorative Bill Presentation:
At the state capitol this morning, Gov. David Ige held a commemorative bill presentation marking the passage of HB2475, which designates July 31 of each year as a special day of observance in honor of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, or Sovereignty Restoration Day. In 1843, Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea commemorated the reinstatement of the government of the Hawaiian Kingdom after the British ambassador and a British Navy captain illegally seized control of the nation. 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 ʻāina 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 Hawaiʻi. 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. 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.