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Hawaiian Patriotism Lives On: Mrs. Vakeki Heleluhe Joins the Queen in Washington, D.C.

Cover Image: Masthead of Ke Aloha Aina published on May 8, 1897, as seen online (digitized from microfilm copy).

Aloha Nūhou Monday!

In 1897, the newspaper Ke Aloha Aina announced that the long-time retainer of Queen Liliʻuokalani, Mrs. Vakeki Heleluhe, was to join her in Washington, D.C. The Queen left for America at the end of the previous year accompanied by her lady-in-waiting, Mrs. Kia Nahaolelua and Mr. Joseph Heleluhe. Their stay in foreign lands had far exceeded the duration of time that was expected and Mrs. Nahaolelua needed to return home to Honolulu to care for her husband and large family. The Queen granted her leave. As her replacement, Mrs. Vakeki Heleluhe left Honolulu on the steamship Australia to rendezvous with the Queen. Mr. James K. Kaulia made all the proper arrangements to prepare Mrs. Vakeki for the journey. Heeding the call of the Aliʻi ʻAimoku is an honorable endeavor not to be taken lightly.

The Queen writes in her diary on June 19, 1897—

“Wednesday the 16th of June, the Annexation Treaty was signed by President McKinley and John Sherman, and sent that afternoon to the Senate…. Next day I sent a protest [to the U.S. Secretary of State], accompanied with one from J. Heleluhe on the part of the Lahui, by whom he had been commissioned the right to act for them.”

Mrs. Vakeki Heleluhe along with her husband Mr. Joseph Heleluhe and Julius A. Palmer all signed as witnesses to the petition in protest of the treaty of Annexation the day following the submission of the treaty.

Image: “Ola no ke Aloha Aina,” Ke Aloha Aina, May 8, 1897, p. 2.


These are words regularly spoken by some parents when they see clever deeds done by children of others. They feel admiration for those prized deeds of this child for the benefit of the parent, so that he will say he has a child but the child does not do clever things like the child of that parent, and this is why we say, Ke Aloha Aina, you live on through your children, and that the deeds of your President James K. Kaulia, the leader of the Patriotic League, shows us how to be vigilant, wise, alert, and prepared, seeing him in the afternoon last Wednesday, makai of the Australia, and when escorting Mrs. Vakeki Heleluhe, to fulfill the Queen’s call from across the Pacific Ocean, to come find her in unfamiliar lands.

Half an hour before the ship was to leave the harbor, President James K. Kaulia went to retrieve Mrs. V. Heleluhe at the Queen’s residence at Washington Place and brought her by hack to the steamship.

Due to the alertness of the leader of the people, while the members of the Hawaiian Women’s Patriotic League stood gathered in the room, the waiters were sent for, and the women were entertained, and with daintiness beyond compare, the room was decorated with flowers of all sorts.

This brings us joy, the expressions of aloha extended to the lady whose husband is determined to bring about the rights called for by the people.

And to the President of the Hawaiian Patriotic League and the Women’s Patriotic League goes our gratitude, and we have no doubt that should the Queen hear of the acts done out of love for her subject who is sailing alone across the ocean, her tears will flow for Her love of Her people, and while Her lady servant comes bearing the prayers of Ke Aloha Aina for their Queen, give her aloha with warm embraces from our hearts.

(Ke Aloha Aina, 5/8/1897, p. 2)

Image: Photo of Queen Liliʻuokalani with Mrs. Kia (Elizabeth Kahele) Nahaolelua, her lady-in-waiting, Joseph Heleluhe, her secretary, and Julius A. Palmer, far left, 1897. Bishop Museum Archives, SCP 39718

Image sharing on social media is welcome. For all other uses please contact, Bishop Museum Archives.

Image: The steamer Australia, operated on the San Francisco, California to Honolulu, Hawaiʻi run. 1889. Bishop Museum Archives, SP 30855

Image sharing on social media is welcome. For all other uses please contact, Bishop Museum Archives.

Vakeki Heleluhe was born on Maui and served Queen Liliʻuokalani for decades until the Queen passed. In this article, she is referred to as Vakeki but she also is known as “Wakeki,” “Waikiki,” or “Wakeke” Ululanihilimoe Pauli Kaoleioku Keaweopala Heleluhe. She was previously married, but following her marriage to Joseph Heleluhe, secretary to the Queen, she had two children. Unfortunately, there aren’t any identified photos of Vakeki. However, her son Jack Heleluhe became a singer and worked in America and there are multiple accounts of him in the newspapers and otherwise. Vakeki also had a daughter, Myra Iona Heleluhe who was also a companion to the Queen. Vakeki Heleluhe passed away at her home in Kaimukī in the evening of November 21, 1921. This post is done to remember Vakeki Heleluhe on the day of her passing 102 years later.

Image: “Pumehana,” Queen Liliʻuokalani’s home, Washington Place; Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. Reception upon the Queen’s return from Washington, D.C., where she sought unsuccessfully, U.S. support for the recovery of her throne. August 2, 1898. Bishop Museum Archives, SP 31113

Image sharing on social media is welcome. For all other uses please contact, Bishop Museum Archives.

This post is part of He Aupuni Palapala: Preserving and Digitizing the Hawaiian Language Newspapers, a partnership between Bishop Museum and Awaiaulu with assistance from Kamehameha Schools. Mahalo nui loa to Hawaii Tourism Authority for their support. Learn more about this project here.

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