Lā Ho'iho'i Ea

Hauʻoli Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea!

July 31st is the 180th anniversary of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, Sovereignty Restoration Day. This was the first national holiday that was celebrated in the Hawaiian Kingdom. Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea celebrated the day that the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom was restored after 5 months of illegal occupation by British naval captain George Paulett. Kamehameha III Kauikeaouli was forced to surrender the Kingdom under threat of bloodshed on February 10th 1843. When Lord Paulett took control of the ports, harbors and all government buildings, Paulett demanded that all Hawaiian flags be lowered, burned and destroyed and replaced them with the British Union Jacks. When Admiral Richard Thomas who was the commander of the British Pacific Navy fleet got word of what took place he set sail immediately for Hawaiʻi to investigate the situation. Admiral Thomas, who was Paulette's superior, recognized the rightful heir of Kauikeaouli to the Kingdom and held a ceremony at Kulaokahuʻa on July 31st in 1843, to restore the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

On July 31st, a flag ceremony was held at noon accompanied by a twenty-one gun salute as he lowered the Union Jack, and raised the Hawaiian flag. Kamehameha III Kauikeaouli went directly down the street to Kawaiahaʻo church and addressed the congregation by sharing his famous words “Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘āina i ka pono” The sovereignty of the land was preserved through the just actions of Great Britain. Kaukeaouli and his retinue traveled to Kaniakapūpū in Nuʻuanu where a grand feast was held to celebrate the occasion and to honor Admiral Thomas for his just actions.

The holiday of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea was celebrated on all the islands for 50 years, the park where the ceremony took place was named Thomas Square in honor of Rear Admiral Thomas and his role in this significant day. In 1893, after the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom took place, all Hawaiian national holidays were banned by the provisional government. In 1985 Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell resurrected the national holiday with a Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea celebration held at Thomas Square.

Currently, Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea celebrations take place on July 31 throughout the pae ʻāina of Hawaiʻi, and as far away as New York City.  Hauʻoli Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea! E Welo Mau Ka Hae Hawaiʻi!


Written by: Lāiana Kanoa-Wong

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