Onipa‘a: Hawaii Celebrates Queen Liliuokalani’s Birthday and Heritage

The Hawai‘i Ponoi Coalition presents ‘Onipa‘a, a celebration for Queen Lili‘uokalani. The festivities will include local Hawaiian musicians, the Royal Hawaiian Band, prayer service, and cultural demonstrations.

Here’s the details:

What: ‘Onipa‘a: A Birthday Celebration for Queen Lili‘uokalani Where: ‘Iolani Palace Grounds, Honolulu When: Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. How much? Visitors receive free admission to Iolani Palace from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.

What’s on the schedule?

  • Ecumenical prayer service
  • Hula and mele (music) performances
  • Daytime guided tours of the Iolani Palace
  • Evening guided tours (Mai Poina, free to the public)
  • Costumed guides and role playing performances

Who was Queen Liliuokalani?

Queen Lydia Liliuokalani was Hawaii’s last monarch, who reigned from January 29, 1891 – January 17, 1893. In addition to ruling her Hawaiian nation, the queen was a celebrated author and composer. Her most renowned song is “Aloha Oe,” though she also penned nearly 200 songs, including  ”Onipa’a“, meaning to “stand firm.” The queen believed in empowering Native Hawaiians and populations that were marginalized in the islands. She also During her rule, the influence of American and European businessmen was not to be overlooked. In fact,  when Liliuokalani proposed a new constitution to restore veto power to the Hawaiian monarchy, as well as re-establish voting rights Native Hawaiians and the Asian population, the first signs of an overthrow took hold.

The illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian nation

Liliuokalani recorded her experience of Hawaii in the autobiographical book, Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen. Not only did she become the first published Hawaiian female author, but the forced annexation of the Hawaiian nation was well documented. In fact, Queen Liliuokalani was charged with three so-called “intolerable measures”, including one action which was argued to be an attempted overthrow of her own government. The real case was, Liliuokalani wanted to satisfy the voices of her people, who wanted rights under a new, or revised, constitution.
“Such, in brief, is the history of constitution making in Hawaii; and from this mere statement of the facts it will be seen that of all the rulers of the Hawaiian Islands for the last half-century, I was the only one who assented to a modification of the existing constitution on the expressed wishes, not only of my own advisers, but of two-thirds of the popular vote, and, I may say it without fear of contradiction, of the entire population of native or half-native birth. Yet, with the above historical record before them in a book written and printed by one of their own number, the missionary party have had the impudence to announce to the world that I was unworthy longer to rule, because on my sole will and wish I had proposed to overthrow ‘the constitution.’” —Queen Liliuokalani, “Hawaii’s Story By Hawaii’s Queen”
But the American and European businessmen were already searching for an opportunity to overthrow the Queen, and thus initiate a new government influenced by economic and agricultural motives. On January 16, 1895, Liliuokalani was illegally arrested at her home, Washington Place, imprisoned at Iolani Palace, then held in confinement at Washington Place. She lived here for the remainder of her life, during which she made several appeals to the United States President to reinstate the Kingdom of Hawaii and her throne. Her protests to the illegal annexation of Hawaii to the US went unsuccessfully, and Liliuokalani later died in her residence.

Remembering the Queen

In her memory, a large, Edo-style Japanese garden park was built in Hilo on the Big Island. The Liliuokalani Gardens are a peaceful escape that pays tribute to the queen and the Japanese immigrant workers of Hawaii. The Onipa‘a celebration is open to the public. Admission to the Iolani Palace is free during the event.

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