Mai Poina: The Annexation Debate

Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī Coalition Presents

Mai Poina:
The Annexation Debate

Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center, at Aliʻiōlani Hale

Click here for reservations

In 1898, Hawai‘i was annexed by the United States in a most unorthodox and deeply controversial manner. Citizens of both nations debated the issue then as well as today. Join us for an enlivening debate, ripped from the pages of Hawai‘i’s recent past.

February 22, 23, 24 & 25
March 1, 2, 3, 4

All performances begin at 7 p.m. except for the 2 p.m. matinees on Sunday, February 25 and Sunday, March 4.


Please email for more information.

Co-sponsored by the Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī Coalition and the Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center.

For Immediate Release: January 29, 2018


Mai Poina: The Annexation Debate to be staged

HONOLULU – Historical figures Joseph Kaulia and Emma Nāwahī lead a compelling visit to pre- annexation Hawai‘i in Mai Poina: The Annexation Debate, a living history presentation to be staged February 22–25 and March 1–4 at the Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center in Ali‘iōlani Hale.

The vivid re-enactment of the discussions and actions that eventually resulted in Hawai‘i becoming a territory of the United States is presented by the Hawai‘i Pono’ī Coalition, and co-sponsored by the Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center. Admission is free; reservations are strongly recommended.

This living history portrays the points of view of both the proponents of annexation and the members of the Hawaiian Patriotic Leagues who fought against it. The result is an engaging fact-based portrayal of a turning point in the history of Hawai’i.

Drawing on primary historical documents—debate transcripts, newspaper reports, and personal correspondence—playwright Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl uses costumed role-players to present the perspectives of Hawaiian patriotic leaders Kaulia and Nāwahī, as well as Senator Richard F. Pettigrew (South Dakota), Senator John Tyler Morgan (Alabama), William O. Smith (Republic of Hawai‘i), and San Francisco journalist and feminist Miriam Michelson.

“This presentation takes place in the historic courtroom of the Judiciary History Center in Ali‘iōlani Hale, which makes it even more meaningful,” said Hawai’i Pono’ī Coalition member Yuklin Aluli, Nāwahī’s great-niece. “Ali‘iōlani Hale served as the legislature for the Kingdom of Hawai‘i, and it was in this building that Queen Lili‘uokalani proposed a new constitution for the Kingdom of Hawai‘i, touching off the events that led to her overthrow and eventually to annexation.”

After each presentation, Hawaiian historians and political scientists will lead the audience in a discussion of these events of the 1890s that profoundly shaped Hawai‘i’s future. Detailed Viewers’ Guides will provide background information, interpretive essays, and translations of Hawaiian language documents from the period.

Performance dates and times:

Thursday-Saturday, February 22–24, and March 1–3 2018 at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 25, and March 4 at 2:00 p.m.

Judiciary History Center Ali‘iōlani Hale417 South King Street

Admission: free. Reservations are strongly recommended.

Please email for more information.

The Hawai’i Ponoʻī Coalition is a consortium of Native Hawaiian-serving organizations dedicated to presenting Hawai‘i’s true history to all who live in and visit the islands.

Mai Poina: The Annexation Debate is the third in a trilogy of living history programs presented by the Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī Coalition. For the past nine years, the Coalition has Mai Poina: The Overthrow, a walking tour on the grounds of ʻIolani Palace tracing four pivotal days leading up to and including the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. Mai Poina: The Trial of the Queen has been presented at Aliʻiolani Hale in 2013 and 2015. Mai Poina: The Annexation Debate was first presented in 1998 as part of Kaulana Nā Pua, an Exhibit and related programs about the Petitions Against Annexation, held at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. It was remounted in 2012 at Aliʻiōlani Hale.


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