Hawaii's Remarkable Women: Eleanor Prendergast
Kaulana Na Pua -- a song that stood the test of time.
Written in 1893 as a symbol of resistance to the provisional government who took over the kingdom, removing the queen from her throne.
As grief rapidly spread across the Islands, one of Lili'uokalani's ladies in waiting was asked to compose a mele ku'e, or song of protest.
Composer Ellen Prendergast put pen to paper at the request of the royal band who refused to sign an oath of loyalty to the new government.
The lyrics that she wrote are very very clear and poignant, and express the sorrow the Hawaiians were feeling at the time -- how crushed and betrayed they felt.
Although an upbeat melody is intertwined with Prendergast's five verse composition, her words portray how strongly Hawaii's native people opposed what took place.
Ua lawa kakou i ka pohaku
Ika'ai kamaha'o o ka 'aina
We are satisfied with the rocks
the wondrous food of the land.
When you look at that you literally look at someone eating rocks, but it's not that. It's the foundation. That's what it is saying. We'd rather have our foundation. We don't need your money. We want our land back.
Po'oloa Tolentino is Prendergast's great great grandson. He knows first hand how meaningful his tutu's words were to kanaka at the time. Although the monarchy was never restored, Tolentino says the song's significance survives.
"This is a gift I believe to myself and to my generation to continue the feeling that our people had even 100 years ago. To communicate what it is to be a Hawaiian and to be connected with the land," said Tolentino.
Prendergast was laid to rest at O'ahu Cemetery in Nu'uanu. Historian Nanette Napoleon is planning a special tribute to some of Hawaii's most notable composer, including Prendergast this Friday and Saturday. The event will showcase her contribution to Hawaii's history.