Ka Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea:
Celebrating our Abundance, Embracing our Kuleana, Breathing Ea into Our Future.
By Noʻeau Peralto,
Hui Mālama i ke Ala ʻŪlili
July 2016: Every morning when I go out into our māla ʻai, a community garden space created and cultivated by the youth of our community in Paʻauilo, Hāmākua, I am reminded of the abundance that emerges from our ʻāina everyday in kīpuka like this, in every corner of this Pae ʻĀina. Looking towards the east, I see a beautiful mural, vibrant with hues of red and orange, matching the bright eastern sky as the sun rises. The mural depicts a scene from the moʻolelo of ʻUmi-a-Līloa, Hāmākua’s beloved chief, famous for cultivating great abundance on this ʻāina. It is painted on the wall of an old plantation storage vault, which once held the maps and blueprints for the occupied state we now actively plant and paint against. To the west, an American flag flies over the steps of the local post office. I figure if we stay out working in the māla all day, we’ll get to see the sun set upon that flag soon enough.
An open letter
to my future keiki, moʻopuna, mamo, pua, kawowo…
As you look back on our actions
now as free Kānaka, of a free Hawaiʻi
know that your ancestors were human
like you, kanaka,
and that we looked to our kupuna too,
like you, kanaka,
for wisdom and strength.
We looked to our ancestor-gods
Models for our actions.
Models of ea.
July 1843: The ea of Ko Hawaiʻi Pae ʻĀina was rebirthed through an act of pono on July 31, 1843. As the reigning Mōʻī at the time, Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III), said, “Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono.” The ea (sovereignty, independence, life, breath) of the ʻāina, never ceased to exist. It continues on, because it is pono. But for a little over five months leading up to that joyous day in July, the ea of this ʻāina was suppressed, as our beloved Hae Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian flag) was lowered and burned, and the British flag raised in its place.
On February 25 of that same year, under duress, Kauikeaouli temporarily ceded his sovereign authority as Mōʻī (reigning monarch) of the Hawaiian Kingdom to Great Britain, after Lord George Paulet had landed his warship in Honolulu and threatened the Mōʻī with violence. Paulet was the commander of the British frigate Carysfort, and had been called to Hawaiʻi by the British Consul to the Hawaiian Kingdom, Richard Charlton, to investigate claims of a property dispute between Charlton and the Hawaiian Kingdom government. Acting on his own accord, Paulet had demanded an audience with Kauikeaouli. After Kauikeaouli refused to comply with his demands, Paulet threatened to attack the town of Honolulu with military force, compelling Kauikeaouli to temporarily surrender his sovereign authority to Great Britain. As history tells us, Paulet proceeded to lower and destroy all the Hawaiian flags in his reach, raising the British flag in their place. This wrongful act marked the beginning of a five-month occupation of Hawaiʻi by the British.
By now, you can surely look back
upon the clouds that hung over
our Pae ʻĀina for generations
Stingy clouds that gave no rain
Just shaded out our growth
and the growth of our ʻāina.
Made us hungry.
First we ate what little ʻai we had,
then we ʻai Kanaka.
Consumed each other.
Because we were so hungry
for ʻāina, life, food, kuleana, sustenance,
But some of us kept on
ʻO nā kumu akua a pau
i hānau ʻia i ka pō i ka lā hiki kū.
Ea mai ke kai mai.
And then the kūpuna responded,
they emerged from the sea
blew away some of the clouds,
let the sun shine in a bit
woke us up
to our own humanity.
July 1865: In a speech delivered before ʻŌiwi royalty and foreign dignitaries alike on July 31, 1865, William Charles Lunalilo described the scene of that five-month occupation. “Dark and gloomy indeed were those days,” Lunalilo remembered, “how the nation mourned during those few months of trial, thinking the government was gone perhaps forever in the hands of a foreign power. For five long lingering months, things remained as they then stood, until on the 31st day of July, the day we are now commemorating, we saw the flag that ‘had braved a thousand years the battle and the breeze,’ lowered by the hand of one of England’s sons” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Aug. 5, 1865).
That “son of England” was Admiral Richard Thomas, who, after hearing of Paulet’s criminal act, immediately sailed for Honolulu. After his arrival, on July 31, 1843, at the place now called “Thomas Square” in Honolulu, Thomas alongside Kauikeaouli lowered the British colors and raised the Hae Hawaiʻi once again—returning the symbol of the Kingdom’s independence to its rightful place of prominence in the islands. With this pono act, “ke ea o ka ʻāina” was also returned to its rightful place, and as Kauikeaouli proclaimed at the celebrations to follow in Nuʻuanu that day, “Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono.”
From the darkness,
face like the moon,
back like the cliff,
leaves of the ʻulu unfurled,
each branch from the kumu,
a unique reflection of the collective,
he lau hui,
ka lāhui Kanaka.
And within each of us,
is a kuamoʻo
a lineage, a genealogy,
made of this ʻāina,
strengthened by the bones
of our ancestors, our gods,
unfaltering, like Palikū,
transformative, like Haumea,
we are the culmination
of all those who make us
gods in our own right,
the soil beneath our feet,
and the water in our bones,
From that day forth, July 31 was celebrated as “Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea” (Ea Restoration Day) in Hawaiʻi, becoming Hawaiʻi’s first national holiday. Throughout the nineteenth century citizens of the Hawaiian Kingdom celebrated this holiday with great enthusiasm. These Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea celebrations, as can be read about in the Hawaiian-language newspapers of the nineteenth century, often took the form of large community gatherings featuring song and chant, formal speeches, games, competitions and races on both the land and sea, and large feasts. In an 1865 newspaper article, John D. Kamanowai of Kunawai, Oʻahu, described Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea as: “Ka la hoi i hoihoiia mai ai ka hanu ola o keia Aupuni; ka la no hoi a kakou i ike aku ai i ka haule malie ana iho o ke Kalaunu o Beritania. O ka la keia a kakou i ku ai iluna a hooho ae ai i na leo me ka lanakila, ‘E Ola ka Moi i ke Akua. E Ola o Hawaii nei i ke Akua. Ua mau ke Ea o ka aina i ka pono.’ O keia ka la makahiki hou o ko kakou mau Mokupuni mai Hawaii a Niihau” (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, July 29, 1865). (The day that the breath of life was returned to this Nation; the day that we all witnessed the graceful fall of the British Crown. This is the day that we stand up and call out with our voices in victory, “Life unto the Mōʻī from the Akua. Life unto Hawaiʻi from the Akua. The Ea of the ʻāina continues on in pono.” This is the new year’s day of our Islands from Hawaiʻi to Niʻihau.) On Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, our kūpuna not only commemorated the end of a wrongful occupation. Our kūpuna held this day as a celebration of ea—that breath of life that emerges from our ʻāina, fills the lungs of our people, and sustains pono in our relationships as communities and nations. Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea represents a time of rebirth—a time in which the word ea gained new meanings for our people as we re-emerged from the darkness of ancestral night to see new sails and currents upon our horizons.
The sun emerged at Kumukahi,
First rays touched the piko,
ka mauna a Wākea, Kūkahauʻula,
the light made its way down the steep trails
of Hāmākua at Koholālele,
to the water-laden plains of Kaʻohe,
to the dark forests of Hilo,
and the fiery flows of Pelehonuamea
in Puna and Kaʻū,
to the sun-caressed coasts of Kona,
and the wind swept hills of Kohala.
Then to Maui’s famous peak,
Alehelā, kū kilakila,
and the four life giving waters
of Nā Wai ʻEhā.
To Kohemalamalama o Kanaloa,
Lānaʻi and Molokai-nui-a-Hina.
To Oʻahualua, from Kalama to Mākua.
To Kauaʻi o Manō, from Nohili to Hāʻena.
And there that sun set again,
At Lehua, Nihoa, Mokumanamana,
Back to pō, the realm of our kūpuna,
and with the setting of that ao,
the wisdom returned.
It should come as no surprise, however, that many of us today grew up never hearing of this great day of celebration. Most of us never learned about Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea in school, and like other national holidays of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea was not acknowledged by the governments that have occupied our homelands since the overthrow of our beloved Queen in 1893. In fact, it was not until last year that the County of Hawaiʻi first officially recognized Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea as a holiday, thanks to the vigilant efforts of a number of Hawaiʻi’s poʻe aloha ʻāina. Government recognition, however, is not all we seek. Regardless of whether or not the government recognizes this significant day in our history, it is our kuleana to honor Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea and celebrate all that ea means for the future of our lāhui Hawaiʻi.
Ea, as ʻŌiwi scholar Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua tells us, “is an active state of being.” Ea is life, breath, sovereignty and political independence. It is emergence, and like breathing, Goodyear-Kaʻōpua says, “ea cannot be achieved or possessed; it requires constant action day after day, generation after generation.” Ea cannot and will not be returned to us by someone else. No goverment recognition, whether domestic or foreign, local or international, will return the ea to our ʻāina. We must understand the “hoʻihoʻi” in Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea as an active movement of our own—a returning of ourselves to our selves and a restroation of our ʻāina to a state of ea. Contemporary ʻŌiwi leaders, like Kaleikoa Kaʻeo and Leilani Basham have reminded us that when Kauikeaouli spoke on Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea in 1843, he celebrated the restoration of the “ea o ka ʻāina,” not the ea of a government. Our ʻāina is abundance. We are abundance. And the breath that we share with each other—inhale, exhale—is our ea. Ea mai kākou.
You know who you are
because we had forgotten,
and your birth
that this lāhui was not
written into existence
by the hands of scholars
this lāhui emerged
from the depths of Kahoupookāne,
from the piko o Wākea,
born at Waiau.
We are everything we need
Ea mai kākou.
We are Kamehaʻikana and Hāloa,
Hinahānaiikamalama and Kūʻula,
the ʻai of our ʻāina.
We are Kāneikawaiola and Kanaloanuiākea,
Lonoikamakahiki and Kūikeolowalu,
the sources of our collective abundance.
We are Papahānaumoku and Wākea,
Pele and Hiʻiaka,
Akahiakuleana and Umi-a-Liloa,
our models of resurgence and transformation.
We are Moananuiākea,
Our sea of islands
A genealogy of emergence
woven together by ancestral pathways
that reflect the origins of our movements
past, present, and future.
We are the aloha felt in our kūpuna’s embrace,
and the pain felt in the birth of new life.
We are the kuleana upheld on the backs of our forebears,
and the pono of pō and ao.
We are the mana of countless prayers,
and the fruits of planting with intention.
We are mountain peaks and valley floors,
sheer cliffs and sandy shores.
We are the collective breath of our lāhui,
Ea mai kākou.
And we will continue to breath mana
of this ʻāina
with this ʻāina
to this ʻāina
until we become a part of this ʻāina.
July 1871: In his stirring speech at a Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea gathering in Mānoa, Oʻahu, in 1871, Davida K. Kahalemaile called upon all of us, the people of this ʻāina, to remember this day for the many generations to come. “Auhea oukou,” Kahalemaile called out, “e na makua mea keiki i loaa ka pulapula, i puka i ke ao, ulu i ke ao, kawowo i ke ao…a hiki i ka hopena o kou kanikoo ana, hai aku oe i kau pulapula, ke noho la i ke ao malamalama, e hoomanao oe i ka la i hoihoiia mai ai ke ‘Ea o ke Aupuni,’ ke ola o ko Hawaii Pae Aina, ina no aole malama na Poo Aupuni, malama no kakou, o ko kakou malama ana, o ko ke alii malama ana no ia. Nolaila, e olioli kakou, a e hauoli pu me ka manao lokahi. E ola Ka Moi i ke Akua!!! Ua mau ke Ea o ka Aina i ka Pono!!!!” (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Aug. 12, 1871).
(To all of you who are parents with children—those of you who have offspring that have emerged into this world, grown in the light, and multiplied in the light…Until the end of your days of walking with a cane, tell your offspring, ‘for as long as you live in the light of day, you should remember the day on which was returned the ‘Ea of the Nation,’ the life of all who live in these Hawaiian Islands.’ And if the Heads of the Government do not observe this day, we shall care for it. For our care and respect is indeed equal to that of the aliʻi. Therefore, let us celebrate and rejoice in unified thought. Life unto the Mōʻī from the Akua!!! Ua mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono!!!!). It is in this re-membering of our past that we breath ea into our future. And that ea never dies…a hiki i ke kawowo aloha ʻāina hope loa.
So when you look back
on the deeds of your ancestors,
And you look through the scrolls
and the rolls
Of our history
Know that my name is absent from one
For a reason.
And that reason is
That I believed in you.
I believed in your ea.
In a time when many of us
lost hope in ourselves,
I gleaned hope from you,
hope from your ea.
Because I knew that you
Would be everything you need
Ea mai kākou.
I knew that the clouds
would eventual pass
and that new clouds would come
birth of new life,
and a regeneration,
with each new hānauna,
of this ʻāina aloha,
because while we were the kīpuka
struggling to breathe
now you are ulu koa
breathing new life into existence
and when the time comes for you
to join us in pō
that your kawowo
will be everything we need
Ea mai kākou.
July 2016: The ea of Ko Hawaiʻi Pae ʻĀina is being rebirthed through the pono actions of our people. With the emergence of a new generation of aloha ʻāina, cultivated in kīpuka across this Pae ʻĀina, the ea of our ʻāina is breathing stronger than it ever has in the past century. From Kumukahi to Papahānaumokuākea, we are part of a collective resurgence of aloha ʻāina, and many of the poʻe aloha ʻāina who are leading the way in this movement are those who, “rather than demanding that the land be given back to Hawaiians, [are] getting Hawaiians back on the land.” This is what “hoʻihoʻi ea” looks like. These poʻe aloha ʻāina are actively cultivating the regenerative processes of “cultural kīpuka”—like Waipā Foundation, Hanakēhau Learning Farm, Hoʻoulu ʻĀina, Paepae ʻo Heʻeia, Hikaʻalani, Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana, Hui o Nā Wai ʻEhā, Kilakila ʻo Haleakalā, Kīpahulu ʻOhana, Pōhāhā i ka Lani, Protect Mauna Kea, Ulu Mau Puanui, and many more—rebirthing old and new spaces of refuge and freedom, from which “ke ea o ka ʻāina” is re-emerging once again.
One of these kīpuka of resurgence, in particular, has been cultivated by a group of aloha ʻāina for the past thirty years at “Thomas Square” in Honolulu—the site of the first Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea celebrations. According to the group’s website, “In 1985, Hawaiian patriot, Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell, renowned leader of the modern Hawaiian movement, reestablished the celebration of La Hoihoi Ea, Sovereignty Restoration Day, at Thomas Square, as a vehicle to reclaim and restore Hawaiian independence.” Over the past three decades, this kīpuka has harbored the seeds of our lāhui’s political history and the potential for its future ea—resembling the great Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea celebrations of our kūpuna in our not-so-distant past. And over the past few years these seeds have spread to other islands, as far as Kalapana, and now, Paʻauilo, Hāmākua. Ea mai kākou.
Inspired by this movement to “hoʻihoʻi ea,” Hui Mālama i ke Ala ʻŪlili (huiMAU) is organizing a community celebration of the 173rd anniversary of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, on Sunday, July 31, 2016, in Hāmākua, at the Paʻauilo School Field. Our hope for this event in Paʻauilo is to bring our Hāmākua and Hawaiʻi Island community together to celebrate our own ea—the abundance of knowledge, skills, values, and life-giving practices in our community, past and present, that hold the potential for our return to a thriving Hāmākua and Hawaiʻi Island community in the future. Our intention is not only to celebrate this important national holiday and its link to our history of a sustainable, independent past, but more importantly, we want this to become a day for us to gather annually as a community to share, learn, and envision the ways in which we can create sustainable, interdependent, thriving futures for our ʻāina and people here in Hāmākua. We welcome all in our community to come share in this family-friendly, drug and alcohol-free event, featuring local food vendors, Hawaiian craft vendors, games for the whole ʻohana, educational activity booths for all ages, speakers, and live music by Kainani Kahaunaele, Ho-a, and Jon & Jamaica Osorio. For more information, find Hui Mālama i ke Ala ʻŪlili on Facebook or Instagram, or check out our website: http://www.alaulili.com/la-hoihoi-ea-hamakua.
Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, Noelani. “Introduction.” In A Nation Rising: Hawaiian Movements for Life, Land and Sovereignty, edited by Ikaika Hussey Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, Kahunawai Wright. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014.
———. “Kuleana Lāhui: Collective Resposibility for Hawaiian Nationhood in Activists’ Praxis.” Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture and Action 5, no. 1 (2011): 130-63.
McGregor, Davianna P. Na Kua’aina: Living Hawaiian Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007.
 Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, “Introduction,” in A Nation Rising: Hawaiian Movements for Life, Land and Sovereignty, ed. Ikaika Hussey Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, Kahunawai Wright (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014), 4.
 “Kuleana Lāhui: Collective Resposibility for Hawaiian Nationhood in Activists’ Praxis,” Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture and Action 5, no. 1 (2011): 156.
 Davianna P. McGregor, Na Kua’aina: Living Hawaiian Culture (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007).