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Hawaiʻi officially recognizes July 31 as Sovereignty Restoration Day or Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi
Imaikalani Winchester, organizer of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea in Honolulu, shares the significance of Sovereignty Restoration Day, the first ever Hawaiian Kingdom holiday.

Legislation designating July 31 as Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea or Sovereignty Restoration Day has become law.

The day recognizes the accomplishments of King Kamehameha III, who worked to restore the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom after a four-month occupation by the British in 1843.

Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea became the first national holiday of the Hawaiian Kingdom and continued to be celebrated in the islands until the overthrow in 1893.

ʻĪmaikalani Winchester, one of the organizers of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea in Honolulu, says the legislation provides an opportunity to advance a bit of history that belongs to everyone who calls Hawaiʻi home.

"I offer the challenge for the people of Hawaiʻi to learn and to understand our deep and nuanced history, to challenge the state to continue to seek to do what is right on behalf of the Hawaiian people of all ethnicities," Winchester said.

"So on behalf of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, who celebrates not just here in Honolulu but celebrates around ko Hawaiʻi paeʻāina and around the world and all the communities who rise in solidarity for peace and for justice, we accept this as a noble step forward in our path towards liberation," he said.

Winchester credits the late Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell and activist Soli Niheu for reviving the celebration of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea in 1987.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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