Thursday, September 9, 1999

100 Who Made A Difference

Star Queen Liliuokalani Star

Star-Bulletin file photo
On Jan. 29, 1891, King David Kalakaua's sister,
Lydia Kamakaeha Liliuokalani, became queen nine
days after his death in California.

Hawaii’s last monarch inspiring

By Pat Omandam


TO appreciate the impact Queen Lydia Kamakaeha Kaolamalii Liliuokalani made in Hawaii this century, all you need to do is listen.

You can hear it in the haunting words of the song "Aloha Oe," one of a number of songs written by Liliuokalani during her long life from Sept. 2, 1838, to Nov. 11, 1917.

You can hear it in the growing collective argument from Hawaiians passionate about restoration of a Hawaiian government, more than a century after Liliuokalani was dethroned during the Jan. 17, 1893, overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom.

And you can hear it in the unwavering voice of Brandon Bunag, one of many Hawaiians today who were helped by the Queen Liliuokalani Children's Center, a trust Liliuokalani founded to help orphaned Hawaiian children.

"Over a hundred years ago, Queen Liliuokalani had a vision to benefit the less fortunate of our race," said Bunag, keynote speaker at the 161st anniversary of Liliuokalani's birthday a week ago today.

"The Queen Liliuokalani Children's Center helped me become more proud of my Hawaiian heritage," said Bunag, who wants to become a social worker to help others.

'Queen Liliuokalani had a
vision to benefit the less
fortunate of our race.

Brandon Bunag



If anyone was witness to the expanding foreign presence in Hawaii in the 1800s, it was Liliuokalani, who was born in Honolulu during King Kamehameha III's reign. She was just 5 when the islands were seized by a British navy captain for five months in 1843 until British Adm. Richard Thomas officially restored the kingdom at what is now Thomas Square.

Liliuokalani was age 10 when the Great Mahele of 1848 forever changed the division of land in Hawaii.

In 1874 at age 35, Liliuokalani -- who was then married to John Owen Dominis for 11 years -- watched her brother David Kalakaua become Hawaii's final king, as Kalakaua named her as heir to the throne.

Liliuokalani became queen Jan. 29, 1891, nine days after Kalakaua died on a trip to California. Seven years later, Hawaii's last monarch watched from her home at Washington Place as the Hawaiian flag was lowered at Iolani Palace and replaced with the American flag during the U.S. annexation ceremonies Aug. 12, 1898.

Liliuokalani was said to be a strong-willed queen who firmly believed the rights of royalty. But she was also a very warm person who appreciated music and art, said Larry Kimura, assistant professor of Hawaiian studies at the University of Hawaii-Hilo.

Kimura said Liliuokalani serves as a role model for women today. Kimura, who did a documentary two years ago featuring interviews with seven former subjects who were the "last living links" to the queen, said Liliuokalani understood education was very important as a leader, and embraced it.

"Her ability to compose was basically self-taught by being exposed to the music of that time," Kimura said.

Haunani Apoliona, a noted musician and a trustee at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said Liliuokalani's human and spiritual limits were tested by individuals who seized political, economic and social control of Hawaii.

Still, she continued to inspire Hawaiians with high principles and Hawaiian values in overcoming injustices, Apoliona said.

"Queen Liliuokalani, the Hawaiian woman, serves as a model to all Hawaiians on how the Hawaiian journey to secure political, economic and social self-determination and sovereignty in the 21st century must unfold," Apoliona said.

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