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<b>Downtown Express</b><br><i>California’s Dana Outrigger team approaches the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.</i><br><br><i>Photo by Dana Edmunds</i>
Vol. 16, no. 6
Dec. 2013 / Jan. 2014

 

Tea by the Sea 

Story by Kris Bordessa
Photo by Jack Wolford

Throughout the nineteenth century Hulihe‘e Palace in Kailua-Kona was home to a succession of Hawai‘i’s monarchs. The Islands’ last king, the famed bon vivant David Kalakaua, would host luminaries from around the world on the palace’s lanai. Today Hulihe‘e Palace is a museum run by the Daughters of Hawai‘i—but some of the merrymaking of Kalakaua’s day has just returned to its lanai thanks to a Hawaiian horsewoman named Wilhelmina Kanaina Kamaileilanikehukaiopuna Rose Weight. Born in Papa‘ikou on Hawai‘i Island in 1890 Wilhelmina rode for the Territory of Hawai‘i in what is now California’s Rose Parade when she was just 15. Her granddaughter Faye Daniel remembers a spirited woman who took her to tea at the Wai‘oli Tea Room on O‘ahu when she was a young girl. “Nana drank tea,” remembers Faye, “but I preferred chocolate malts.”

Now all grown up, Faye helped launch Wilhelmina’s Tea at the palace in honor of her grandmother. Limited to just twenty people, the once-a-month tea starts with a docent-led tour of Hulihe‘e Palace and culminates in tea on the oceanfront lanai, served from Wilhelmina’s own heirloom silver tea service. Two of Wilhelmina’s grandsons bake the cake and shortbread. “We’re naming the tea for Nana,” Faye told her brothers in classic big-sister fashion, “so you have to make your goodies.”

While the past inspired Wilhelmina’s Tea, it’s the future that gave it momentum. The Daughters of Hawai‘i — including Faye —launched the tea as a fundraiser; they are intent on acquiring iPads to use with local students who are learning about the palace, convinced that the modern technology will encourage the students to delve deeper into history. Grandmothers and great-grandmothers alike donated a mismatched collection of china cups and saucers from their cupboards, relics with twining roses, chintz prints and gold trim. “It’s like having multiple generations here, in spirit and in person,” says participant Shan Quinn. Faye is pleased with how it’s all been received. “Nana,” she says, “would be having a blast!”

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