LIHUE — Many Kauaians still think of Queen Liliuokalani as their queen, and Friday night, they came together.
The Niumalu Canoe Club and students brought the memory of their ruler back to Kalapaki Beach through a mosaic and torch-lighting ceremony at Nawiliwili Bay.
“I think she was an amazing being,” said Kathleen Ho, fine arts manager for Hale Opio Kauai Inc. “Her motto was ‘onipaa,’ being steadfast. Even though she suffered great losses in her life, she still had hope, always had hope.”
Queen Liliuokalani toured the Hawaiian Islands after she was crowned. Hawaii’s last reigning monarch arrived before dawn at Nawiliwili Bay on July 8, 1891. Because there was no break wall, it was unsafe for the queen to come ashore. To help their queen, the Kauai people lit torches along the Nawiliwili shoreline to illuminate the bay for her safe travel.
The Niumalu Canoe Club and members of the Hale Opio Kauai Inc. re-enacted the torch lighting ceremony Friday night to commemorate the monarch’s arrival and to spread her message of hope.
The ceremony was also filmed and its video will be presented to the public on April 18 in addition a mosaic established to honor the queen.
“At that time there was so much hope that the people had, that she had as queen,” Ho said. “Tonight, we’re doing it to recognize and remember that hope, especially for the children because over 100 children helped on this mosaic and the queen had an incredible love for children.”
Ho and Hale Opio Kauai Inc. worked with the canoe club’s co-founder, Tao Chow, who helped to establish the ceremony.
“I feel that it’s a great thing for everybody,” said Chow, who is also the coach for the Niumalu Canoe Club. “I think it’s important to bring awareness cause that’s what the filming of this is going to be, not only to reenact when the queen visited Kauai but to bring awareness to the kids about self-sustainability to keep our island clean, to keep this area clean for the future.”
Chow’s wife, Roberta Leong Chow, came up with the idea for the ceremony while she and Chow were watching a KIF high school race after Hale Opio Kauai Inc. asked the canoe club to participate in the ceremony.
Students from middle and high schools across Kauai also honored Hawaii’s queen by creating a mosaic depicting her arrival in Nawiliwili Bay. The project was created by students from Island School, Kauai High School, Kapaa High School and Kauai Community College.
The image took six months to create.
“It was really interesting,” 16-year-old Christina Carney said. “I didn’t expect it to be like that and it was pretty hard at first and when I got the hang of it, it felt like, it was like a puzzle I had to make up myself.”
Carney’s sister, 17-year-old Nicole Carney, looked forward to honoring Queen Liliuokalani.
“It was awesome, I’ve never done any art work like that before, putting little intricate pieces together, it was a learning experience, not only about the art but the history behind all this,” she said. “I think she was an amazing woman, she was very brave.”
The mosaic will be placed on the Niumalu Canoe Club’s wall on April 18.