September second marked the 175th birthday of Queen Liliʻuokalani. The queen was the last monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom and is celebrated by Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike. Not only was the queen skilled in Hawaiian and international governance but she was also a skilled musical composer. As one of the Nā lani ʻehā (four related ali‘i composers Kalākaua, Lili‘uokalani, Likelike and Leleihoku), she authored hundreds of songs and translated the Kumulipo, a creation chant over 2000 lines long, into English. She also started a trust for destitute and orphan children called the Queen Lili‘uokalani Children’s Center which still exists today. After the overthrow and annexation of the kingdom, Liliʻuokalani continued to advocate for the kingdom to be returned and for the rights of her people to the land.
Today the life of the queen and her legacy of politics and culture is internationally celebrated. One such celebration is ʻOnipaʻa held annually the weekend around her birthday. ʻOnipaʻa, meaning steadfast and determined, describes the queen and her actions. It was also one of her mottoes.
This year Native Books/Nā Mea Hawaiʻi, Queen Liliʻuokalani Trust, Hawaiʻi State Public Library System along with other sponsors present: He Lei, He Aloha ~ “A Lei of Love”. This 45-minute program held at different library locations will include readings from Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen and songs composed by the queen sung by various groups. Be sure to catch this powerful event. You can download the schedule here He Lei, He Aloha poster (PDF).
Above is a clip from Her Majesty: Lili‘uokalani, a documentary held in our collection about her life, with interviews with people and manaleo (native speakers of the Hawaiian language) who knew her intimately, including kupuna Alice Namakelua who talks about singing for the queen.
Hauʻoli lā hānau iā ʻoe, e kuʻu mōʻī! Happy Birthday to the cherished queen!