A Kalaupapa Commemoration

Photo by Rick Schonely

On June 26, the Kalaupapa community celebrated the Lei Hali’a Ho’olaulea, commemorating 50 years since all remaining patients were released from the settlement to live wherever they chose.

For 103 years previously, the Act to Prevent The Spread of Leprosy exiled those afflicted with Hansen’s disease to Kalaupapa. In 1969, after a cure was found and the disease was declared no longer a threat, the forced isolation was lifted. June 30th marked 50 years since the repeal. Some patients left, some remained living in Kalaupapa, and many have since passed away. Lei Hali’a, meaning a Lei of Remembrance.

“The Kalaupapa community, friends and relatives joined together in five days of events that helped deepen our understanding and appreciation for the sacrifice made by over 8,000 people, to ensure the survival of Hawaiians today,” stated the Kalaupapa National Historical Park Facebook page.

On June 30, more than one thousand lei were placed on the 1300 marked grave sites, while lei were also laid to commemorate the thousands of unmarked graves in the settlement. The multi-day event was a time of remembrance, prayer, song and shared memories.


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