Liliuokalani’s “Aloha Oe,” 1929.

The True Story of “Aloha Oe”

As everyone starts to donate their dollar for the building of a memorial to this famous song composed by Queen Liliuokalani, perhaps it is well to speak about some of the information on the origins of this song, the beginnings of the penning of the lyrics, and it being set to music.

The monument was proposed to be the words in Hawaiian stone that would stand close to the first home of Queen Liliuokalani, now lived in by the Governor of Hawaii.

Now, some intimate with the Queen in days past, and travelling companions of the Queen when they were young, have spoken. This is the story that was told, and it was published in the paper or book called the “Paradise of the Pacific:

In 1878 [1877?], when Kalakaua reigned, and his sister was but a princess and heir to the throne, she travelled to the Koolau side, to well-known Waimanalo. With her was Likelike, Kale Wilikina, Mr. Boyd, and many attendants.

They travelled by horse on horse trail; this was a bad trail.

They arrived at their destination and spent several days there. They spent some days at some friends of the alii, and were welcomed with great gaiety.

Just as the with the kupuna of old, they were welcomed. A feast was laid out by the friends of this home which the alii were visiting.

When were making ready to return to Honolulu, lei of all kinds of flowers were placed about their necks, as was a custom amongst Hawaiians. They were adorned with flower lei, not like the paper lei popular during the time of this article.

When they all were going from the house to exit the estate, they saw one person fall back, and another lei was placed about the neck of the one at the entrance of the yard.

When this beautiful Hawaiian girl was seen giving a lei to the one leaving it also was seen her being embraced.

Because Princess Liliuokalani witnessed this scene, she was overjoyed. While they were headed back to Honolulu, she started to hum a melody, while being full of emotion over what she had seen.

The one next to Liliu heard her humming, and was curious, and asked what she was humming, as it reminded her of an old song. That song was “Rock Beside the Sea” [Pohaku ma ka Lihikai].

When they each returned to their homes, the Queen returned to hers, where she finished this song.
“One embrace” is charming for what was seen at the gateway–one person of their party tarrying as that beautiful young girl hugged the one on horseback.

As was said by the kupuna of yore, mele are composed while travelling, if something that catches ones eye is seen.

Our alii mother, Kamehaokalani Kane was a composer in her lifetime who made songs on horseback. Some of her compositions were well sung back in her time.

This is something written in the book known as the “Paradise of the Pacific.”

[As found in the “Paradise of the Pacific,” 42 (4): 31, 1929; 42 (10): 9, 1929.]

(Hoku o Hawaii, 4/23/1929, p. 2)


Ka Hoku o Hawaii, Buke XXII, Helu 45, Aoao 2. Aperila 23, 1929.