Belief: Queen Lili’uokalani


I greatly admire Queen Liliʻuokalani, First Sovereign Queen and Last Monarch of Hawai‘i.  Her core values were evident from a very young age and continued to guide her to the point of facing death for her “treason” and loss of her sovereignty. She was passionate in her service to her people and in her fight for their rights. 

Queen Liliʻuokalani’s country was not immune to the issues experienced by many Pacific Islands people in those times.  The fledgling sugar industry brought waves of Chinese and Japanese immigrants.  They, in turn, brought new strains of smallpox and influenza, decimating the indigenous Hawai’ian population by 85% in 50 years.  Imagine in the midst of these epidemics, a member of nobility going door-to-door to raise money to build Hawai‘i’s first public hospital, Queen’s Hospital, which opened in 1860.  That was the depth of her commitment to her people.


Queen Liliʻuokalani’s adherence to her own moral code often drove her to take on more responsibility for people’s wellbeing that was justified.  She would readily let the blame lie with her instead of with those who rightfully deserved it…unmatched grace.  She would take this even into the most personal aspects of her life.  Princess Victoria, sister to King Kamehameha IV, was set to marry Prince Lunalilo.  She was rather unstable in her affections and demanded David Kalakaua, Liliʻuokalani’s brother, instead.   Lunalilo and Liliʻuokalani then became engaged.  When this appeared to cause greater instability in Victoria driving her to alcohol and sorcery, she broke off the engagement.  Expecting that her sacrifice would unite the two together and bring happiness to them.  It was not to be.  In addition, Liliʻuokalani, then entered a marriage that was strained for the duration.

Powerful forces were changing the global political landscape and the tiny island nation became a very strategic port for the United States.  The movement to annex Hawai‘i began. The movement was organized by a group of American businessmen who called themselves “The Hawai’ian League,” and in 1887, they forced King Kamehameha V to sign a new constitution. This constitution stripped the King of much of his power and took away voting rights from Asian and indigenous Hawai’ians citizens, requiring land ownership in order to vote.

The sudden death of the King brought her to power, she had been Regent during his time.  The strength of humility and dedication to her people was evidenced by sending emissaries to speak with her people and determine ascertain what they required from their ruler.  They responded that they wanted a strong ruler they could comprehend, a security for their homeland and themselves and finally, not to be subjects of a foreign power.  She responded to their wishes with great force.  As head of the ‘Onipa‘a (meaning “immovable,” “steadfast,” “firm,” “resolute”) movement, whose motto was “Hawai’i for the Hawai’ians,” Liliʻuokalani fought bitterly against annexation of the islands by the United States.  The forces that opposed her and her people were so much strong and a proclamation deposing the queen was broadcast, calling for absolute abolition of the monarchy, establishment of a provisional government until annexation by the United States, and details for the composition of a new government.  Rather than continuing to fight, the Queen ever mindful of the impact of her actions on her people, surrendered.  Suffering imprisonment and possible execution for treason, she continued to work to regain what had been lost. 


Travelling to the US to appeal for the restoration of her throne, most eloquently pleading her case.  Whilst the President recognised the injustice and called for Liliʻuokalani re-instated. 


Congress rejected the proposal and the Queen then spent 8 months under arrest.  It took the heart and soul out of the Hawai’ian people.  The Queen never stopped serving her people, advocating for indigenous Hawai’ian rights and culture.  She established a bank for women, a fund for the education of indigenous Hawai’ian girls, as well as The Queen Lili‘uokalani Trust to support Hawai’ian orphans. 

In 1993, the U.S. Congress issued an apology acknowledging that the overthrow of Queen Liliokalani had been illegal.

Do you have Belief as one of your strengths?  If you hold to your convictions like Queen Lili‘uokalani you very well might.  This is a powerful strength with great potential for benefit to those around you.  Here are some questions you might want to ponder:

  • What do you want your legacy to be?
  • What are you doing to achieve it?


If you’d like to know more about your strengths and using them to make a difference for you and others, you can contact me here: 

About the Wayfinders' Blog

The Wayfinders’ Blog helps individuals, teams and organisations discover and develop their unique strengths. I provide valuable insights and practical tips to my audience empowering them to develop their talents into strengths and achieve their goals.

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