Celebrating Lā Kūʻokoʻa


Aloha mai kākou,

Dr. Sylvia Hussey

On November 28, 1843, the governments of Great Britain and France formally recognized Hawaiian independence with what is known as the Anglo-Franco proclamation. Upon securing a formal recognition of independence from these major European powers, the Hawaiian Kingdom freely entered into treaties with other nations, beginning with Denmark in 1846. By 1882, the Hawaiian Kingdom had friendship treaties with most major European nations, as well as with Japan, Russia and the United States. And by 1893, the Hawaiian Kingdom had diplomatic representatives (consulates or legations) living abroad in 26 countries, while it hosted foreign consulates from 15 countries.

Securing formal recognition of Hawaiian independence was no small feat. In the mid-19th century, encroachment by foreign powers on Hawaiian territory was increasingly a threat. So King Kamehameha III set out to do what no other Pacific island nation had been able to do: secure recognition of his nation’s independence from Europe. To accomplish this, he commissioned a Hawaiian delegation to travel to America and Europe. The delegation included Timoteo Haʻalilio, the king’s childhood companion and personal secretary; the Reverend Richard Williams, a stalwart friend to the kingdom; and Sir George Simpson, a British citizen and supporter of Hawaiian independence. The remarkable story of their travels and achievements are detailed in this month’s feature story by Kauʻi Sai-Dudoit.

The recognition of Hawaiian independence via the Anglo-Franco proclamation was so significant that thereafter, November 28th was proclaimed Lā Kūʻokoʻa, or Hawaiian Independence Day. Lā Kūʻokoʻa was celebrated in the Hawaiian Kingdom each November for the next fifty years with parades, speeches, songs and feasts. After the overthrow of 1893, this jubilant national holiday slowly faded into oblivion, and for nearly a century was the whisper of a distant memory. Today, the resurgence of Hawaiian language, culture and history has ushered in a new awareness among kānaka maoli, and once again Lā Kūʻokoʻa is being celebrated at our Charter Schools, Universities and in communities across our pae ʻāina.

This year, 2019, Lā Kūʻokoʻa coincides with the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, November 28th. So as we prepare with our ʻohana for a day of feasting and launa, let’s also pause to remember that at one time Hawaiʻi was a fully recognized member of the world’s family of nations, and to reflect on what kūʻokoʻa can and should mean to our lāhui in this present generation. E mau ke ea o ka ʻāina.

Sylvia Hussey, Ed.D.
Ka Pouhana Kūikawā/Interim Chief Executive Officer