‘O KD Alayna-Lynn Naleimelia Aipoalani ko’u inoa. I am a proud Nanakuli homesteader attending Kamehameha Schools Kapalama Middle School. More importantly, I am a proud Hawaiian who has the privilege of sharing my mana’o of and aloha for Hawaii’s beloved Queen Lili’uokalani.
“E ʻonipa‘a i ka ‘imi na‘auao” is a quote made famous by Queen Lili’uokalani. This essay is a culmination of online reference materials that I have read, experiences that I have had, and information that my dad and his mother have shared with me. I truly believe that the character or deeper meaning of the quote is represented in this essay.
Lili’uokalani was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on September 2, 1838 as Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamakaʻeha to the high ranking Hawaiian chiefs Analea Keohokalole (mother) and Caesar Kapaakea (father). She was adopted by Laura Konia (hanai mother) and Abner Paki (hanai father) at birth and became the younger sister to Bernice Pauahi Bishop. Like many other privileged youth, Queen Lili’uokalani was educated at the missionary-ran Royal School. This is where she learned how to speak proper English and received musical training. She had a deep passion for music and poetry. In fact, her love of music and poetry led her to produce more than 160 songs, including the lovely and enchanting “Aloha ʻOe”.
The Royal School was a great opportunity for Queen Lili’uokalani to grow and develop as a person and future leader. Her rise to mo’iwahine status was a result of two things. First, her brother David Kalakaua was King. Second, her brother William Pitt Leilehoku II passed away 14 years prior to King Kalakaua’s passing in 1891, thereby establishing Queen Lili’uokalani as heir apparent.
During her reign as queen, Lili’uokalani sought to amend the constitution in order to restore some of the power that the monarchy had lost during the reign of her brother. Out of fear of losing revenue and influence, local sugar planters and businessmen instigated an overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Selfless and in caring for her people, Queen Lili’uokalani abdicated her throne on January 17, 1893 to avoid major conflict. In 1895, Lili’uokalani was put under house arrest in her own home, ‘Iolani Palace for her alleged knowledge of a counter revolutionary attempt by her supporters. After several months of being imprisoned in her own home, Lili’uokalani was released on parole and confined to the island of O’ahu. On July 7, 1898, President McKinley signed into law a joint resolution of Congress that purported to annex Hawaiʻi to the United States. The legality of such act remains a bone of contention.
In Queen Lili’uokalani’s Deed of Trust dated December 2, 1909, which was later amended in 1911, Queen Lili`uokalani entrusted her estate to provide for orphan and destitute children in the Hawaiian Islands, with preference for Hawaiian children. Her lifelong legacy of caring for Hawaii’s children is perpetuated through the Lili`uokalani Trust.
Queen Lili’uokalani Trust has made such an impact on me and my family’s lives. I, personally, have had the privilege of learning about her and her life from my Grandma Merrie Aipoalani. Plus, the Lili’uokalani Trust afforded me and my twin sister, KC Layana-Mari Malakelina Aipoalani, a once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in a 6 week dance camp that was done in partnership with Alvin Ailey. Through this opportunity, my sister and I were also able to perform a special song that was taught to us by Aunty Vicky Takamine Holt at the September 2, 2017 birthday celebration at Mauna Ala and again on September 23, 2017 in celebration of Queen Lili’uokalani’s life and legacy.
As a way of showing my appreciation to Queen Lili’uokalani, my ohana extends the Queen’s philosophy of caring for others by holding once a month “Video Visit.” This community service project has been going on for several years. Our family enjoys doing this little part of connecting loved ones with family members who are incarcerated in mainland prisons.
Although they only see and speak to each other for 15 minutes, we know from the Queen’s experience that every second of every minute is precious.
The value of time is also reflected in a poem my father wrote entitled, “Breakfast with the Queen”. It has never been published. But one day it will be in bookstores and online for many to read about my father’s conversation with the Queen. It is rather bone chilling as it took place on the Sunday leading up to the Queen’s birthday in 1992.
In closing, I am so thankful for Queen Lili’uokalani. Without her act of courage and benevolence, I would not be where I am today and would not be who I am today. This is the reason why I am ending my essay without mentioning the death date of our beloved Queen Lili’uokalani…for she lives in in my heart forever.