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Celebrating the Birth of a Beloved Queen of Hawaii

January 2, 2014

Queen Emma, born January 2, 1836.

On January 2, 1836, a girl was born who would leave a lasting legacy to Hawai’i. This girl, Emma Kalanikaumakaamano Kaleleonalani Naea Rooke, was the granddaughter of John Young, a stranded British sailor who became a trusted advisor to King Kamehameha the Great and to the king’s sons. Although part British, she was also an ali’i (chief) and she later married King Kamehameha IV in 1856. She and her husband founded the Queen’s Hospital (now the Queen’s Medical Center), the first hospital in Hawai’i. Traveling throughout the world visiting various heads of state, Queen Emma became the first queen to visit the White House and she eventually developed a close friendship with Queen Victoria of England, who served as the god-mother of Queen Emma’s son, Prince Albert Kamehameha.

Additionally, Queen Emma and her husband were instrumental in the founding of the Anglican Church in Hawaii. This also included the founding of  St. Andrew’s Priory School to educate girls at the same level as boys. The school continues to operate to this day. Because of their contributions, November 28 in considered a “Feast Day” in the Anglican Church to honor Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV

King Kamehameha IV

Her husband, Hawaii’s king, died about  a year after the death of their only child. In 1874, now widowed and without children, Queen Emma tried to become queen in her own right as a candidate in a “Royal Election”, in which she was defeated by David Kalakaua, the last king of Hawai’i. In 1885, at age 49, Queen Emma died, yet her legacy continues to live on.

In 1972, the Queen Emma Foundation and the Queen’s Medical Center (which Emma had founded) donated 34 acres to the United States Government for the creation of “Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site”. Through an act of Congress on August 17, 1972, the lands surrounding Pu’ukohola Heiau, including the John Young Homestead, officially came under the protection of the National Park Service. Later, in the 1990’s, the Queen Emma Foundation donated an additional 26.5 acres to the Park. The influence of Queen Emma continues through the lifesaving work of the Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, through educational institutions and churches, and through the preservation of Hawaii’s unique cultural history at Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site.

The preservation of Pu’ukohola Heiau, a legacy of Queen Emma. (NPS Photo by Dave Boyle)

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