The state Legislature, for the first time in state history, is recognizing a holiday established during the Hawaiian monarchy.
Lawmakers approved House Bill 2475 during the 2022 legislative session, designating July 31 of every year as Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea. The special day of observance is meant to remember the accomplishments of King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III and his role in restoring Hawaiian rule to the islands after a British coup and honor contributions made by upstanding members of the Hawaiian community.
“Some of the things we know as common place today are due to the events of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea,” state Rep. Mark Nakashima, who represents Hāmākua and North and South Hilo on the Big Island and is chairman of the state House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee, said in a press release. “This includes the state’s motto and the creation of Thomas Square in Honolulu. I believe that by writing this historic day into modern law it will serve as an ever-present and enduring opportunity for Hawaiians and the rest of the people of Hawaiʻi to learn of the Hawaiian past and make personal connections with each other in the process.”
In 1840, the British ambassador to Hawaiʻi along with a captain in the British Royal Navy raised the union jack in the capitol to symbolize they took control of the islands, according to the press release. In response, Kamehameha III dispatched diplomatic envoys to explain their case to the Court of Queen Victoria, which ultimately sided with the Hawaiians. Adm. Richard Thomas was dispatched to the islands later and removed the ambassador and captain, and the Hawaiian flag was once again raised.
“To commemorate this positive outcome for his kingdom, Kauikeauoli established the date of restoration as its first national holiday,” the press release said.
The historical event has been remembered and celebrated informally by communities large and small since the mid-1980s.
“From Hāmākua to Honolulu and other places near and far, Hawaiians have made great efforts to preserve the memory of this day,” said Nakashima in the release. “While they clearly do not need it, it is only right that soon Hawaiians will have an official banner of recognition from the state under which they can celebrate this momentous occasion.”
HB 2475 has been sent to Gov. David Ige to be signed into law.