Ke Kanawai Mamalahoe – Law of the Splintered Paddle

22 08 2015

E hele ka `elemakule, ka luahine,
a me na kamali`i a moe i ke ala
`a`ohe mea nana e ho`opilikia.

Let the old men, the old women, and the children go
and sleep on the wayside; let them not be molested.

The Law of the Splintered Paddle,
King Kamehameha I.

The law of the splintered paddle declared that old men and women and children may lie on the roadside and they shall not be molested. A royal edict of Kamehameha the Great, thus began the era of freedom from violent assault.

In ancient Hawai‘i, there were no laws as we know them today. The sacred kapu, traditions, respect for one another and love for the land kept order and harmony among men and women long before the haole (foreigners) arrived, bringing their varieties of civilization. It was only with the changing times and contact with Europeans that laws came to be written down. As a tribute to his people, the very first law proclaimed by Kamehameha the Great was a law that protected them all, from the elderly to the very young.

Mamala means “splintered”; hoe means “paddle.” Kanawai refers to water and the responsibility the Hawaiians had of controlling and conserving their streams. It was the closest word they had to “law.”

There are many stories of how this law came about. One tells of a commoner who taught Kamehameha that human life — any human life — was precious and deserved respect, and that it was wrong for the powerful to mistreat those who may be weaker.

The teacher was a fisherman. The student was Kamehameha as a warrior before he united the islands. The lesson was not written in a book or on a chalkboard. It was delivered with the whack of a wooden canoe paddle. It was a harsh lesson, but Kamehameha never forgot it, because he later turned that lesson into Hawai‘i’s first official written law.

Used with permission from “The Law of the Splintered Paddle,” Copyright 1994 Hawaii Legal Auxiliary

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Queen Lydia Liliuokalani

28 01 2015

`Onipa`a.

Stand firm.

Motto of Queen Lili`uokalani.

(September 2, 1838 – November 11, 1917)

Queen Liliuokalani was the last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian Islands.

She was born in Honolulu to high chief Kapaakea and the chiefess Keohokalole, the third of ten children. Liliuokalani was adopted at birth by Abner Paki and his wife Konia. At age 4, her adoptive parents enrolled her in the Royal School. There she became fluent in English and was influenced by Congregational missionaries. She also became part of the royal circle attending Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma.

Liliuokalani married a ha’ole, John Owen Dominis on September 16, 1862. Dominis served the monarchy as the Governor of O’ahu and Maui.

Upon the death of her brother, King Kalakauam Liliuokalani ascended the throne of Hawaii in January 1891.

One of her first acts was to recommend a new Hawaii constitution, as the “Bayonet Constitution” of 1887 limited the power of the monarch and political power of native Hawaiians. In 1893, Queen Liliuokalani sought to empower herself and Hawaiians through a new constitution. A group led by Sanford B. Dole sought to overthrow the institution of the monarchy. The American minister in Hawaii, John L. Stevens, called for troops to take control of Iolani Palace and various other governmental buildings. In 1894, the Queen, was deposed, the monarchy abrogated, and a provisional government was established which later became the Republic of Hawaii.