Mai ka moku o Keawe, a i ka moku o Kāhelelani, a hiki i kē ia ‘āina nui, aloha nō kākou.
As he was hidden in the cliffs of ‘āwini, and raised in the pristine valley of Pololū in Kohala, a true visionary resided growing strong, gathering mana from his kahuna, ‘ohana, kupuna, and the land. This young child was born out of a prophecy and became our people’s most powerful leader and fierce conqueror, Ka‘iwakīloumoku, the snatcher of islands. For over 200 years, his legacy for our people remains as bright as the hulu mamo that covers his ‘ahu ‘ula. As he trained in the sacred art, philosophy, and science of lua to become the greatest warrior, abled to tie his enemies’ bodies in knots, he also trained his mind for politics and diplomacy, the greatest game of kōnane.
But he could not have done it alone. He had many protectors and supporters. The love of his mother, Keku‘iapoiwa, who gave her child away for his ultimate safety, Hikuikekualono with her powerful prayers, Nae‘ole with his swift feet, Kaha‘ōpūlani who provided the child with sustenance, Kekūhaupi‘o who raised him in the world of lua, his elite troupe of the mighty Kīpu‘upu‘u warriors, the marriage to Keopuolani with her ancient and powerful lineage of nī‘aupi‘o, and, finally, the advent of Western tools and knowledge. Therefore, we know that Kamehameha in his solitude could not have risen to power alone.
Once he united our ‘aupuni, the good king returned to the people. Submitting himself as servant to the ultimate ali‘i, the ‘āina, our ancestral provider. Hānau ka ‘āina, hānau ke ali‘i, hānau ke kanaka, the land, the chiefs, and the people belong together. He let law govern the people moving forward, ushering in a new era.
Since the wrongful overthrow of our kingdom’s government and the illegal annexation of our nation, the upward trajectory of our people set in motion by Kamehameha was derailed, leaving our people destitute and our traditions in disarray. But as we decolonize our minds in the margins of society and bring forth what our ancestors have left for us, we thrive once again.
So much has been done by our communities to make a better life for our people. For as many years we have been lost, we have also been fighting to hold on to what we love and value. Pūpūkahi i holomua, unite to progress.
But as far as we have come, the path to complete freedom is still beyond the horizon. There is so much more to do. And as our world has changed, so must our people. The rules have changed and now we must adapt to ensure our people’s survival, secure what is ours, and protect everything that we value. In these trying times, with the great needs of our people, may we remember the legacy of Kamehameha, mō‘ī o ka lāhui, and all of those who helped him to achieve self-determination. With all that lies ahead, I am reminded of the African proverb, “if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.”
I ho‘okahi kāhi ke aloha, be united in the bond of love, and mahalo nui no kou aloha a me ka hana nui a ‘oukou.