Celebrating Lā Kūʻokoʻa, Independence Day

Nov. 22, 2021

Contributed by Communications Staff

In this Kūkahekahe, we celebrate Lā Kūʻokoʻa, the Independence Day of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Lā Kūʻokoʻa is celebrated every year on November 28, honoring the national holiday  that marks the date in 1843 when the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi was formally recognized by England and France through the signing of the Anglo-Franco Proclamation, and through a verbal acknowledgement with the United States as a result of the efforts of emissaries Timoteo Haʻalilio, William Richards, and George Simpson.

Lā Kūʻokoʻa represents an affirmation of identity and joyful pride in being a part of the lāhui of Hawaiʻi. It is an assertion of deep aloha ʻāina (patriotism) that will continue to reverberate in our naʻau (hearts) for generations. Aloha ʻĀina is multifaceted and deeply layered; it is the passion, the love people have for their homelands, birth lands, or lands to which they feel an ancestral or spiritual connection.  It is patriotism, love of one's country and people. 

Esteemed patriot Joseph Kahoʻoluhi Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu wrote the following article in the very first issue of his nūpepa, “Ke Aloha ʻĀina.” It ran on May 25, 1895, just two years after the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani and a few months after she was imprisoned in ʻIolani Palace under false charges of treason. At this time, tens of thousands of poʻe aloha ʻāina, Hawai‘i patriots, were seeking ways to restore monarchial governance under the Queen and resist the self-proclaimed Provisional Government’s attempts to have Hawaiʻi annexed to the United States. Nāwahī writes:

Ke Aloha Aina; Heaha Ia?
O ke Aloha Aina, oia ka Ume Mageneti iloko o ka puuwai o ka Lahui, e kaohi ana i ka noho Kuokoa Lanakila ana o kona one hanau ponoi…Pela ke aloha iloko o ka puuwai o ke kanaka no kona aina hanau ponoi. Aole i ike maka ia ia mea he aloha, aole hoi hiki ke hoopaaia, aole hoi e hiki ke haha ia; aka, ua laha wale aku oia, a ua lele wale aku a pili i kona aina hanau ponoi iho, me he ume la o ke kui Mageneti.

Aloha ʻĀina; What is it?
That which we call Aloha ‘Āina is the magnetic pull in the heart of the patriot which compels the sovereign existence of the land of his birth. That is what the heart of a Hawaiian feels for his own native land. His aloha cannot be seen, held, or felt; but it is widespread, and it points inevitably to the land of his ancestors, just like the needle of a compass.

Visit our Kaʻiwakīloumoku website to read Nāwahī’s entire article in Hawaiian, with an English translation!

Check out the resources below for more information on Lā Kūʻokoʻa!

Kanaeokana: Lā Kūʻokoʻa, Hawaiian Independence Day

Ka Wai Ola (OHA): Lā Kūʻokoʻa: How Timoteo Haʻalilio Helped Secure Hawaiian Independence