Third-grader Kauila Shimabukuro, center, practices a hula with Kumu Hulali DeLima’s class that will be presented today in honor of Queen Liliʻuoklani.
With a book about Mōʻī Wahine Liliʻuokalani on his desk, third-grader Kauila Shimabukuro carefully began to write a letter addressed to Hawaiʻi’s last reigning monarch. His classmates in Kumu Hulali DeLima’s papa were diligently doing the same.
When asked what he wanted to tell the beloved aliʻi on her 184th birthday, Shimabukuro said, “You were a good queen.”
He opened the book to a photograph of ʻIolani Palace that was taken when the flag of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi was lowered following Liliʻuokalani’s illegal overthrow. “That’s when they put up the American flag,” he said, pointing to the photo that marked the beginning of the Territory of Hawaiʻi.
The letters written by Shimabukuro and haumāna from across the KS Maui campus will be delivered to ʻIolani Palace as part of today’s commemoration of her lā hānau. Haumāna at Māhele Lalo (K-5) will hold a celebration of mele and hula in her honor, as will the haumāna at Māhele Luna (6-8).
“We’ve been telling the story of Liliʻuokalani at piko every morning for the last month,” DeLima said. “It’s so important that our ʻōpio know this history because it colors so much of what it means to be from this ʻāina.”
Checking the clock for the time left in her period, DeLima asked her haumāna to set aside their letters and line up in their hula formation. They’d been learning the words to “E Liliʻu ē” along with a hula kahiko, which they will be presenting during today’s celebration. Staff and kumu at Māhele Lalo have also been practicing hula to present for Liliʻuokalani.
The haumāna sat reverently awaiting DeLima’s kāhea. And with the sound of the ipu, together the haumāna rose from their seated positions and began their oli, moving to the rhythm of DeLima’s taps.
A few haumāna giggled when they forgot a step, and some weren’t shy about watching other haumāna who seemed to have the moves down. Emmalani Fabregas was one such haumana. When DeLima placed the class into four groups, Fabregas helped her hui refine their movements and learn their words.
With just a few minutes left in class, DeLima ushered the haumāna back to their desks to finish up their letters to Liliʻuokalani. Fabregas, beaming with a smile, held up her book on Queen Liliʻuokalani.
“This is my favorite page,” she said.
On it was the lyrics to “Ke Aloha o Ka Haku,” penned by Liliʻuokalani during her imprisonment in ʻIolani Palace.
Your love is in heaven and your truth perfect.
I live in sorrow, imprisoned;
you are my light, your glory my support.
Behold not with malevolence the sins of humankind,
but forgive and cleanse.
And so, Lord, beneath your wings be our peace forevermore.
Third-grader Emmalani Fabregas holds up her favorite page from Liliʻuokalani’s biography that includes the lyrics to “Ke Aloha o Ka Haku,” penned by the queen during her imprisonment in ʻIolani Palace.
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