Fit for a Queen
By Molokai High School Hawaiian Immersion Staff
A three-person conch shell ensemble harmoniously signaled the beginning of Ka La Hanau o Lili`uokalani, the annual observance of Queen Lili`uokalani’s birthday on Sept. 2, 1838. The occasion is observed every year by Molokai’s Hawaiian Language Immersion students from grades pre-K to 12. This year’s celebration was held on Sept. 14 at Lanikeha, Ho`olehua with almost 150 of Molokai’s Hawaiian-speaking student population in attendance along with kupuna and family members.
This year’s theme Ka Mamakakaua Hanohano – “the honorable band of warriors” – was chosen to highlight the unwavering loyalty the Hawaiian monarchs enjoyed from their subjects long after the kingdom’s demise in 1893. The refrain of “ku`e, ku`e, ku`e” (revolt, rebel, go against) was heard as children lifted their voices in song in honor of Robert W. Wilcox, a Hawaiian subject born in Honua`ula, Maui and trained as a lieutenant in Italy in the 19th century. Wilcox supported Lili`uokalani’s unsuccessful attempts to appeal to the United States to restore Hawaiian sovereignty.
Started in Sept. 11, 2002, this year marked the 10th anniversary of the observation spearheaded by `O Hina i ka Malama 7-12 grade Hawaiian Language Immersion Program at Molokai High School and Molokai Middle School. In collaboration with Queen Lili`uokalani Children’s Center (QLCC) staff and Kualapu`u teachers, this co-curricular event brings together the island’s Hawaiian speaking students, elders, and community to ho`okupu to the Queen. They also celebrate in particular her musical legacy and her profound commitment to the social welfare for orphaned and destitute Hawaiian children. Since 2004, the Molokai unit of QLCC has co-sponsored the event by providing transportation for students and a lunch reception.
The ho`okupu took the form of lei, hula, speeches, chants, songs, and even a “laina mo`aukala” or historical timeline of the Queen’s life. As a finale, the students performed a rousing rendition of Ka Mamakakaua composed by Palani Vaughan. In attendance at the event were the principals of Molokai Middle School and Molokai High School, Mr. Gary Davidson and Mr. Stan Ha`o, and Dr. Claire S. Asam, Trustee for the Queen Liliuokalani Trust. The program concluded with a blessing in Hawaiian by Kualapu`u teacher Lokelani Han of Ho`olehua.