Seated, from left, Jon Osorio, Punihei Lipe and Willy Kauai receive a ceremonial Hawaiian kava drink from UH Mānoa student Kaipu Baker near Bachman Hall.

Kūʻokoʻa Hawaiian Independence Day, was commemorated on the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus on November 28 with a number of events. On the same day in 1843, Great Britain and France signed a proclamation recognizing the independence and sovereignty of the Hawaiian nation.

To mark the 175th anniversary, the morning started with a ceremonial event at an ahu (Hawaiian shrine) on the Mānoa campus led by Hale Mua o Kūaliʻi on behalf of Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge Dean Jonathan Osorio and PhD student Kalaniākea Wilson. The gathering of Hawaiian leaders conducted an ʻawa (Hawaiian kava drink) ceremony near Bachman Hall to recognize the kūpuna who built the ahu and to remember their wise instructions in moving forward.

stone structure

The sacred ahu near Bachman.

“The purpose of this ceremony was for us to dedicate ourselves to making UH Mānoa a truly Hawaiian place of learning,” said Osorio. “That commitment means being willing to engage in deeper and stronger conversations to get everyone to understand how important it is to honor our sacred places and the places we care for.”

“We have set up spaces on this campus that really signify who we are, the descendants of a wise and vigorous people, and these spaces are meant to remind us of them, our ancestors, and to keep us in a relationship with them,” added Osorio. “So the spaces and the ceremonies are meaningful to us and we ask the whole university community to honor that and to treat these ahu with the respect that they feel for us and our culture.”

A shirt screen-printing activity was held at mid-day in the Campus Center courtyard by Native Hawaiian Student Services titled, “What does Ea mean to you?” Ea has multiple meanings, including sovereignty, rule, independence, life, air, breath and to rise.

The final Lā Kūʻokoʻa event at the Hemenway Hall courtyard was a panel discussion on ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi featuring noted Hawaiian educators Kaliko Baker, Kahikina de Silva and Keʻalaanuhea Ah Mook Sang, along with music and performances.