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Hoʻikeea Hale

Cover Image: Masthead of Ko Hawaii Pae Aina, published on January 3, 1880.

Aloha Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea!

On July 31, 1843, a ceremony was held to formally end a 5-month long British occupation of the Hawaiian Islands. To celebrate the occasion in perpetuity, the king at the time, Kamehameha III Kauikeaouli, declared the date a national holiday––Hawaiʻi’s first holiday, known as Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea. Within the next couple of years, after deciding to remove Hawaiʻi’s capital from Lahaina to Honolulu, Kauikeaouli purchased a stately residence from Mataio Kekūanāoʻa named Hanailoia. This building would become Hale Aliʻi, the predecessor to ʻIolani Palace. In addition to his new home, Kauikeaouli built two smaller bungalows surrounding the immediate area of Hale Aliʻi, one named ʻIhikapukalani, and the other Hoʻikeea Hale (also referred to as Hoʻihoʻikeea, or Hoʻihoʻikea)––the latter named in honor of the celebrated event some years earlier.

Though little is known of Hoʻikeea Hale’s fate following the construction of the current ʻIolani Palace, it long-served as the personal residence for the entire Kamehameha Dynasty, as well as a site for many of Hawaiʻi’s historic events.

Image: Image of Hale Aliʻi, later replaced by ‘Iolani Palace. The structure to the right of Hale Aliʻi may be Hoʻikeea Hale. Bishop Museum Archives. SP 45401.

Image: J. Kapena, “Haiolelo A Ke Kuhina O Ko Na Aina E No Ka Hoonohoia Ana O Ka Pohaku Kumu O Ke Kihi I Ka La 31 O Dekemaba, M.H. 1879.” Ko Hawaii Pae Aina, January 3, 1880, p. 1, excerpt.

The house [Hanailoia] was erected for the Princess Victoria Kamamalu, but Kamehameha III took possession of it as a palace, and from that time it was the home for the kings of Hawaii nei. At the time when Kekuanaoa erected the old palace, the grounds were not so spacious as they are at present. On the western corner was Kekuanaoa’s house, which he had named Haliimaile; subsequently, he commenced to erect a large stone house, the walls of which only appeared above ground; afterwards the stones composing them were sold by his son, Kamehameha V.

There, in the (south adjoining) premises known as Pohukaina, Kekauluohi, a premier, erected her house. When John Young was premier, he built and lived in Kinau Hale. There, in that house Hoihoikea, were transacted some of the most important affairs connected with the history of Hawaii and of the Hawaiian race; — there lived and died Kamehameha III, and within its walls were held many an important council to decide the interests of this nation, their advancement and their prosperity. The name Hoihoikea was in commemoration of the restoration of the sovereignty and the flag of Hawaii nei by Admiral Thomas. During the reign of Kamehameha V, cabinet councils were frequently held there. There was held the council which called the Constitutional Convention, the result of which was the abrogation of the constitution of 1852 and the promulgation of the present one. There Kamehameha V, he of the strong mind, humbly succumbed to his fate, and thus passed away the last of the Kamehameha dynasty. In that house also the present reigning family met with their first great grief, and far distant be the day when they shall be called to mourn another void in the family.

(English translation from Thrum’s Hawaiian Annual, 1906, p. 76.)

Image: Image of Kamehameha III, Kauikeaouli. Bishop Museum Archives. SP 111684.

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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