- Dedication of Kamehameha III, A Sculpture by Thomas Jay Warren
For a period of five months in 1843 the Hawaiian monarchy was under the rule of a British commander, Lord George Paulet, who had threatened to attack Honolulu if Kamehameha III, Kauikeaouli, did not comply with demands. When Rear Admiral Richard Thomas of the British Royal Navy, Paulet’s superior, arrived in Hawai‘i on July 26, 1843, he reviewed the setting and restored rule of the Hawaiian monarchy to the king in a formal ceremony on July 31. The land where the ceremony took place is now a public park known as Thomas Square.
To commemorate these extraordinary events, the City and County of Honolulu commissioned a statue of Kamehameha III, installed it in Thomas Square, and dedicated it on July 31, 2018, the 175th anniversary of Lā Ho‘iho‘i Ea, or Sovereignty Restoration Day. The keynote historical speaker at the dedication ceremony was Puakea Nogelmeier, professor emeritus from the University of Hawai‘i’s School of Hawaiian Knowledge and a past-president of the Hawaiian Historical Society (2014–15). The following are his remarks. [End Page 151]
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[End Page 152]
Ha‘i‘ōlelo No Ka Lā Ho‘iho‘i Ea
175th Anniversary, Thomas Square, July 31, 2018
Welina ke aloha iā kākou pau loa, e ka hanohano me ka ha‘aha‘a, e ko luna me ko lalo, e ko uka a kai, e ko mua a hope, e ka hi‘ikua me ka hi‘ialo, aloha kākou. I am Puakea Nogelmeier, and I am both honored and humbled to be here today.
The historical event we celebrate today happened in 1843, and the park was established seven years later. The events that inspired it occured right here, 175 years ago today. This area was called Kulaokahu‘a, and it was the open land between the town of Honolulu and the cultivated wetlands and royal compounds of Waikīkī.
The event was a big thing, and was a pivotal turn in Hawai‘i’s history. But it’s the story leading up to that day, and the outcomes of that day, that make Thomas Square worthy to celebrate.
It is not a story about “Little Hawai‘i” being threatened by “big guns,” but a glimpse into how an emerging nation saw itself in the bigger picture of international relations. It highlights Hawai‘i’s understanding that there was a larger justice than the “bully in the bay.”
So there are three parts to my talk—a back story, coverage of actual events, and a bit of followup.
What we commemorate today happened during the reign of Kauikeaouli, titled Kamehameha III. His name and title are both used, so please don’t get tangled. Kauikeaouli means—Placed In The Dark Cloud—Kau I Ke Ao Uli—you don’t have to master it, just don’t let it confuse you.
Kamehameha III was only about 12 years old when he took the throne in 1825, so most external crises, like demands from irate ship captains, were handled by the Kuhina Nui, the Regent, and by the other powerful chiefs of the King’s circle. The Kuhina Nui was Kauikeaouli’s step-mother Ka‘ahumanu until 1832, then his half-sister Kīna‘u, and by the time this happened in 1843, another half-sister/aunt, Kekāuluohi, had been Regent for a few years.
But a lot had changed in the nearly twenty years since Kauikeaouli came to the throne. Both he and his kingdom had grown up. Kauikeaouli was 30 by the time Lord Paulet arrived in 1843, and he had [End Page 153] been ruling a maturing nation for 18 years. Christianity was widely embraced, education was a national project, and foreign relations and trade had steadily expanded, while the native population of the islands continued to diminish. Governance, both internal and external, was an ever-growing concern while Hawai‘i moved, as a nation, into the...