Friday, April 25, 2008


Today in Hawaiian history: April 25, 1885 Queen Emma dies at age 49

by Larry Geller

Almost everyone living on Oahu knows Queen Emma something related to Queen Emma. For most, it is Queens Hospital, founded in 1859 by Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV. Tourists may have visited Queen Emma Summer Palace. I sit here writing this from Queen Emma Gardens.

Emma Kalanikaumakaamano Kaleleonalani Naea Rooke was known in her own time as a great humanitarian. The hospital she founded continues to be supported by a trust consisting of 13,000 acres of land on the Big Island and in Waikiki. If you need to be in a hospital, the one to choose is Queens.

There's a biography of Queen Emma on the Queens Medical Center website.

How did the hospital get started?

In his first speech as king, Kamehameha IV stated the need for a hospital to treat the native population. Due to introduced diseases, the Hawaiian population had plummeted from 350,000 at the time of Captain Cook's arrival, to 70,000, with extinction a very real possibility. The treasury was empty, so the king and his queen undertook the mission of soliciting enough funds to establish a proper hospital in Honolulu. Within a month, their personal campaign had raised $13,530, almost twice their original goal.

To recognize and honor Emma's efforts, it was decided to call the new hospital "Queen's." The original building, housing just 18 patient beds, opened its doors on August 1, 1859. Within a year, a much larger building with room for 124 beds was built on the same site where The Queen's Medical Center stands today.

She did much more. Again from the hospital website:

She also helped found two schools, St. Andrews Priory in Honolulu and St. Cross on Maui. Her work included the development of St. Andrews Cathedral. She journeyed to England where she and her friend, Queen Victoria, raised $30,000 for the construction or the cathedral.

I strongly recommend reading the biography linked above, and the additional material Google will find for you all over the web.

(Many thanks to Scott Crawford over in Hana, Maui, and his Hawaiian Independence Blog, for starting a cultural and historical calendar, on which this is based.)


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