Rob Lafferty


A Government Rises From Exile
The Hawaiian Nation reclaims its place in the world


"Whereas the Kingdom of Hawai'i, having been in exile for one-hundred seven years due to an unlawful overthrow of its government de jure, has exercised perfect right to reestablish its proper station as an independent nation within the community of nations." 
- The Preamble of the Amended Hawaiian Constitution of 2000

The archipelago known as the Hawaiian Islands is either a state within the United States or an independent nation, depending upon your point of view. In the eyes of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the World Court, The Hague, Netherlands, Hawai'i is an independent, sovereign nation that has been occupied by the United States in violation of international law since 1893.

The Reinstated Hawaiian Government set out this summer to make that international perspective visible to the people of Hawai'i. Those signs and tents set up at Ho'okipa and Baldwin beach parks during the first week of November were part of a week-long "Vigil for Justice and Peace", along with similar locations in downtown Kahului, Hana and Lahaina.

Notices were posted on Sept. 9 in the Honolulu Advertiser to inform the public of the vigil, which was held from Nov. 2 - 9 on all major Hawaiian islands. Each location was on land that either the state or county now controls. According to Hawaiian Minister of Finance Kekoa Lake, the purpose of the vigil served "to introduce the public to the true and rightful owner of the national lands."

The Reinstated Hawaiian Government is one of several movements working to re-form a new government. While each of those groups have different ideas on the process and final form, they are all committed to the same goal of restoration. 

The current Constitution as defined and amended by the Reinstated Hawaiian Government is based on the Constitution of 1887 that was in effect before the overthrow of the lawful government in 1893. 

Exactly who fills the role of head of state is not an issue from an international perspective. There's considerable disagreement in the US and other countries over who actually won the last American presidential election, but there is no doubt as to the valid existence of the American nation.

The differences between the various movements who are claiming to represent the government of Hawai'i are not important in a larger sense, either. They can be compared somewhat to the Democrat and Republican parties in the US - groups of differing philosophies led by different individuals, but sharing a common purpose.


Who Are These Guys, Anyway? - or - A Nation and a People

There is a tremendous difference between a nation and a government. The nation of Hawaii has never ceased to exist - it was only the government that was taken over and driven into exile. 

There are four accepted standards to qualify as a nation that are described in international public law: territory, population, sovereignty, and government. Before it was occupied, the Kingdom of Hawai'i met all qualifications. Now that a government is in place and capable of functioning, Hawai'i meets all of those qualifications again.

A nation is essentially the physical area of the land as defined by its borders, and the citizens who reside within those borders. It's not the government - governments come and go, are overthrown and can be restored. The nation remains, existing above and beyond the government unless it surrenders its sovereignty to another nation.

That never happened in Hawai'i. The US government agreed it didn't happen in the 1993 document known as Public Law 103-150, stating that "...the indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands to the United States, either through their monarchy or through a plebiscite or referendum".

Depending upon whom you ask, the Nation of Hawai'i is composed of somewhere between 16 and 128 islands in a large archipelago. The offshore waters extending out 3 miles from the shore of each island are under the full jurisdiction of the nation, and the waters extending out 200 miles are under partial jurisdiction.

The Kingdom of Hawai'i joined the Family of Nations on Nov. 28, 1843, when England and France recognized it as an independent and sovereign land. By 1893 Hawai'i had more than ninety embassies or consulates around the world and had signed treaties with most of those countries.

The people who now make up the Nation of Hawai'i are those who currently hold citizenship in the nation. Citizenship has little or nothing to do with anyone's ethnic background or ancestry.

Because we humans are considered native to the country in which we were born, a native Hawaiian is any person born in the islands. An indigenous or aboriginal Hawaiian, a kanaka maoli, is someone whose ancestors lived in the islands before first Western contact in 1778. A naturalized Hawaiian is anyone who adopts the citizenship of the nation, regardless of where they were born. 

The Hawaiian people never had an internationally recognized government made up wholly of indigenous natives. The government that existed between 1840 and 1886 was a multi-ethnic mix of indigenous, native and naturalized citizens.

The reinstated government takes the position that citizenship is based on allegiance, not race. They offer citizenship not only to kanaka maoli, but also to Hawaiians (all persons born in Hawai'i who are not of aboriginal Hawaiian ancestry) and to foreigners (all those residents born elsewhere who are not of aboriginal Hawaiian ancestry). 


The Legal Process of Restoration

The process of organizing the Reinstated Hawaiian Government was based on "The Law of Nations", a text on international jurisprudence - the same text used by the framers of the American Constitution during their efforts to form a nation in the 1770's. By carefully following that process, the Reinstated Hawaiian Government has established a legitimate existence.

KAONA, a group of private citizens dedicated to teaching all laws relevant to nationhood, was created in June of 1996. Members gave presentations in every district of Hawai'i, and kanaka maoli from every island participated in a series of conventions.

On March 13, 1999, delegates representing all districts of the Kingdom of Hawai'i attended a convention in Punalu'u, O'ahu. Twenty-four kanaka maoli volunteered as district representatives in the House of Representatives pro tem. Another twenty-four volunteered to serve in the House of Nobles pro tem, completing the bicameral parliament of the Hawaiian government.

That legislature chose a monarch pro tem, Kekoa Lake, who appointed individuals to the Executive Cabinet pro tem and the Supreme Court pro tem. The temporary government formally agreed to not exercise any of the powers of their offices. Their responsibility was to educate and register people who wanted to become citizens of the nation. 

On November 6, 1999, all pro tem officers resigned their positions. Voters in each district then selected their choice for the House of Representatives. Voters on each island filled the at-large seats of the House of Nobles. The role of the monarchy was defined as a ceremonial position and left unfilled.

On January 15, 2000, an elected legislature of the Kingdom of Hawai'i, known as the Mana Kau Kanawai ("the body empowered to make laws") convened on Kaua'i for the first time in 107 years. The following officers were elected:

Henry Noa - Prime Minister and acting Head of State
Roselle Bailey - Foreign Minister
Gregory Tim Sing - Minister of the Interior
Nelson Armitage - Defense Minister
Promise Ka'anapu - Attorney General
Duke Enomoto - Speaker of the Legislative Assembly

The Maui region (Moku o' Maui) includes Moloka'i and Lana'i and has six voting districts. Keli'i Solomon is the director of the Maui Office of Communications and the island organizer who says that "We need to continue to educate the people in the process of law that is required for a government returning from exile. That's my main function."


Occupation of a Sovereign Nation

"Now to avoid any collision of armed forces, and perhaps the loss of life, I do this under protest and impelled by said force yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the Constitutional Sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands."

That was the official proclamation of Queen Liliokalani on Jan 17, 1893. The Legislature had been compromised and controlled six years earlier, but that statement from the Queen marked the beginning of exile for the true Hawaiian government.

President Grover Cleveland stated to the US Congress on Dec. 18, 1893 that a "substantial wrong has been done". He described the behavior of American officials as an "act of war" and called for the restoration of the true Hawaiian government.

Even in the presence of the truth, treason in Hawai'i joined with collusion and greed in the halls of Congress to prevail. The United States first occupied, then annexed Hawai'i and, in the opinion of the World Court, continues to illegally occupy Hawaii.

The constitution and laws that were in effect in 1887 are actually the true laws of the land. As an occupying power, by international law (Article 43, No. 4 of the 1907 Hague Convention) the US is required to enforce the existing laws of an occupied territory - just as the US did in Japan after WWII - and is not allowed to impose American law on the residents.

In 1988 the US Justice Department stated "It is unclear which constitutional power Congress exercised when it acquired Hawaii by joint resolution." In fact, the annexation of Hawaii was a prime example of domestic law imposed on a foreign country. That resolution violated both the U.S. Constitution and international law.

On Dec. 13, 2000, US Senator Daniel Inouye stated that "Sovereignty is inherent in the people. Its existence does not depend on recognition by another government... the process of reorganizing a government to represent the Hawaiian people should proceed without the involvement of the United States."

Those folks at the vigils on Maui agreed. They sent letters giving notice of their intention to occupy the lands to the mayor, the chief of police and other officials including the governor, but didn't file for any permits to assemble. The state drew up permits and brought them to the Kahului site after the fact, but the occupiers politely refused to sign, saying that they didn't need permission to occupy land that belongs to the Nation.

"But the whole body of the Nation, the State, so long as it has not voluntarily submitted to other men or other Nations, remains absolutely free and independent." - The Law of Nations (1758) 

In recent years the U.S., by choice and by default, has become "the world's policeman". One of the responsibilities that comes with that job is the obligation to obey the same laws that you are enforcing on others. The only way that the U.S. can adhere to international law is to cooperate in an orderly transition that returns the Hawaiian national land to the citizens of the nation. 

"The kingdom was never lawfully terminated, therefore the kingdom still exists and should be restored," says international law specialist Francis Anthony Boyle of the University of Illinois. "The critical point is the distinction between a state and a government," Boyle said in 1996.

"Their argument about the kingdom of Hawaii is correct - it was never validly terminated by the U.S. government. But assuming they regain their independence, what kind of government they want is for them to decide."

The Reinstated Hawaiian Government has a website on the Internet at:

Interested readers can also find a brief but comprehensive summary of the events during the 1880-1890's era that led to the unlawful occupation, annexation and statehood for Hawai'i at:


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