|Native name: Stewart Islands|
NASA picture of Sikaiana Atoll]
|Area||2 km2 (0.77 sq mi)|
Sikaiana (formerly called the Stewart Islands) is a small atoll 212 kilometres (132 miles) NE of Malaita in Solomon Islands in the south Pacific Ocean. It is almost 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) in length and its lagoon, known as Te Moana, is totally enclosed by the coral reef. Its total land surface is only 2 square kilometres (0.77 square miles). There is no safe anchorage close to this atoll, which makes it often inaccessible.
Sikaiana is a remote tropical coral atoll located at Latitude: 8° 25' 0 South and Longitude: 162° 52' 0 East, over 200 kilometres from any other islands. The main island at Sikaiana atoll, located at the easternmost corner, is called Sikaiana. The three small islands in the west of the atoll are Tehaolei, Matuiloto and Matuavi. There are also two artificial islands on the reef, Te Palena and Hakatai'atata.
Administratively Sikaiana is governed as an outlying region of Malaita Province in Solomon Islands. Sikaiana's population is approximately 300 people of Polynesian descent — not of the Melanesian descent prevalent in the main Solomon Islands.
In 1856, the Kingdom of Hawai‘i under King Kamehameha IV was formally offered sovereignty over the Stewart Islands (now at Sikaiana Atoll) by their chiefs. No other country had claimed sovereignty over the atoll. Hawai‘i was then an independent Polynesian kingdom. The Hawai'ian Privy Council voted to accept the cession of the Stewart Islands to Hawai‘i, and King Kamehameha IV formally approved the action, making Hawai‘i an imperial power of sorts. There may have been second thoughts due to the great distance of the atoll from Honolulu, which could make administration difficult, and the cession may not have been further formalized. Stewart Islands residents have claimed to be native Hawai‘ians and citizens of the United States. According to these residents, because the Stewart Islands were given to King Kamehameha IV in 1856 and accepted, the islands therefore were part of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i and its successors. The Hawai'ian monarchy was overthrown in 1893 and the Kingdom was replaced by the Republic of Hawaii by 1895. Records of the Republic list the individual Stewart Islands as being part of the Republic of Hawaii: "Ihi Kai Ana, Te Perena, Taore, Matua Ati and Matua Ivoto". (Hawaii State Archives, M-313). Since the time when the United States annexed all of the Republic of Hawaii by the Newlands Resolution in 1898, the United States has not ceded the Stewart Islands by treaty to any country, and no United States or international court opinion has addressed the sovereignty question. (In the similar case of Palmyra Island acquired by the Kingdom of Hawai‘i in 1862, the United States Supreme Court has upheld American sovereignty.) However, some officials have argued that the 1898 Resolution annexed only the "Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies", and that that law defined dependencies as the islands named by a certain report by the Hawaiian Commission — that omitted the Stewart Islands. In 1996, some Stewart Islands (Sikaiana) residents applied to register to vote in Hawai‘i as native Hawai'ans, but their applications were turned down by the Hawaiian Sovereignty Election Council. At present, Solomon Islands claims sovereignty and exercises de facto authority over Sikaiana.
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