Archive for the ‘Hawaiian’ Category

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Presenting the past to preserve our future

February 13, 2009

Our last post, “How Do You See Yourself?” provoked an amazing response. Nearly a month later, we continue to receive emails and tweets from diametrically opposed camps. Some say we are helping to perpetuate stereotypes by ignoring gross prejudices. Others believe that we as a people must move beyond past grievances and take control of how we see ourselves as well as how others perceive us.

While I won’t go as far as to say we’re perpetuating stereotypes, I will agree that I am more likely than not to excuse political incorrectness from kūpuna. The understanding and wisdom they hold is far greater than any bias they may carry.

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With each passing of a hulu makua (literally feather parent – elder who is precious like beautiful feathers), we lose more of our foundational knowledge. Over the course of millennia, our kūpuna learned from their ancestors and environment, thereby forging an incredible culture that continues to thrive today.

However, for the Hawaiian culture to endure that knowledge must be transmitted and we must be the willing recipients of our kūpuna’s insight.

Nāna i wawaele i ke ala, ma hope aku kākou – He cleared the way, we came later

With this in mind, Kamehameha Schools’ Hawaiian Cultural Center Ka‘iwakīloumoku thankfully put together a program that provides our entire community with the opportunity to hear and honor the voices of our kūpuna.

Jamie Fong Coordinator of Ka‘iwakīloumoku and Nā Momi Ho‘oheno – the oral Hawaiian history series –shares, “In this fast changing world, the cherished mo‘olelo [stories] of our kūpuna and cultural practitioners can easily be lost and forgotten. Our goal is to capture some of these precious stories and to share them with current and future generations.”

jkaThe series began in January with the incredible story and music of Johnny Kameaaloha Almeida, one of Hawai‘i’s greatest composers. Called of the “Dean of Hawaiian music,” Almeida’s remarkable use of the Hawaiian language and “pure Hawaiian” melodies continue to move us more than a century after his birth.

marylou1.jpgOn Wednesday, February 18th on the Kapālama Campus, Nā Momi Ho‘oheno will present a short film on two master feather artists, the late Mary Lou Kekuewa and her daughter Paulette Kahalepuna. Known as the “Queen of Feathers,” Aunty Mary Lou and her protégé Paulette have shared the artistry of Hawaiian featherwork with generations of limahana hulu. Paulette will also be on hand with a demonstration of the artform to which she and her mother have dedicated their lives. The public is welcome and admission is FREE.

In the coming months Ka‘iwakīloumoku will host other events promoting Nohona Hawai‘i, Hawaiian ways of living and learning. In March, the oral history series will continue with a short film on Haili’s Hawaiian Foods, the famous eatery located at the Ala Moana fish market. Founded more than 60 years ago by Peter and Rachel Haili, today their daughters carry on the family’s rich Hawaiian culinary traditions. In coming months, we can look forward to programs such as Nā Lani ‘Ehā – the music of the four ali‘i Kalākaua, Lili’uokalani, Leleiohoku and Likelike – and an offering from our Māori cousins called “He Reo Aroha.”

For more information, please contact Ka‘iwakīloumoku at 842-8655 or email them at jafong@ksbe.edu.

As Jamie so eloquently put it, “I’m humbled that kūpuna would entrust Ka‘iwakīloumoku with their precious life stories. We owe it to them to portray their mo‘olelo with accuracy and integrity, so that their stories will live on for generations to come.”

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How Do You See Yourself?

January 16, 2009

Recently, having lunch with friends, I was struck by how much Native Hawaiian self-image has changed over the years.

There was nothing particularly unusual about this lunch – a typical get-together of the cronies gathering for a highly anticipated talk story session. However, on this occasion we were lucky to be joined by one of our hui’s Grandpa Joe.

A distinguished gentleman in his eighties, Grandpa Joe is one of those wonderful people you want at all of your parties. A raconteur at heart, his lifetime of experiences and wry wit combined to have us all rolling with laughter. Drawing us in as confidants, he would lean forward conspiratorially. His shock of white hair edging ever nearer and his eyes dancing, he wove amazing tales of the “old days.”

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During the course of the lunch, the conversation turned toward us. “What do you do?” he asked. A physicist, a lawyer, a writer, a professor and a flack (yes, I’m the underachiever of the bunch) were the answers.

“Wow, a group of smart Hawaiians,” he said completely devoid of irony.

“Grandpa!” his namesake mo‘opuna squawked. But, Grandpa Joe was nonplused. He had no idea why his grandson was upset.

Grandpa Joe wasn’t being racist though; he was simply reiterating what he’d heard for a lifetime. Graduating from Kamehameha Schools nearly 70 years ago, his was a world in which native opportunities were few. What we now consider commonplace – a group of college educated Native Hawaiian professionals from ordinary backgrounds – was unheard of in his day.

But more interesting to me, he did not see the very incongruity of his thinking. Here was a man – a Hawaiian man – who without the benefit of higher education used his intellect and will to forge a highly successful international career. There is absolutely no question that Grandpa Joe is an extremely “smart Hawaiian.” Yet, he was unable to place his own life example above the stereotypes embedded within him decades before. He continues to carry the century old bias that Hawaiians are somehow inadequate.

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A generation later, my father followed along the same path of self-deprecation. A recurring conversation in our house went something like this.

Dad: “Hawaiians are lazy.”
Child: “Dad, aren’t we Hawaiians?”
Dad: “Yes.”
Child: “Is anyone in our family lazy?”
Dad: “No.”
Child: “So what Hawaiians are you talking about?”
Dad: Silence

Coming from a household of incurable workaholics, I never understood how my father could make such an outrageous statement. However, in speaking with Grandpa Joe, I began to better understand my own history. My father, like Grandpa, could not reconcile the gulf between his own experiences and the prejudices of long ago.

Yet – even though they could not see it within themselves – both of these smart, hardworking men are part of changing how Native Hawaiians are perceived. Amazing examples like theirs are the lens through which my friends and I view ourselves and our people.

Now, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that others of our generation, as well as the next, deliver on the potential we so clearly see.

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What Makes a Good Blog?

January 8, 2009

Let me begin with I don’t have the answer. But, it’s something I’ve been pondering ever since we began our foray into the blogosphere.

What makes a good blog? Is it one that engages readers far and wide or one that draws like-minded people to a particular nexus? Does it inspire positive action or purely entertain? Is the sign of success tens of thousands of readers or a smaller number of active participants in an intriguing dialogue?

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These are the questions I posed to our little hui of native bloggers. Inevitably, our discussions led to more questions than answers such as, “Why are we doing this anyway?” Hubris aside that any of us could begin to portray the depth of Native Hawaiian thought, why indeed are we doing this and can we hope to be successful?

“I think we’ll be successful if we can get people to expand their ideas of who Hawaiians are,” shared contributor extraordinaire Ikaika Macy. “I’m proud to be one full on moke, but I’m also proud that I’m using the skills and education given to me by my ancestors (both Hawaiian and haole) to make a difference in my community.”

“That’s why I’m part of the hui,” continued fellow blogger Caroline Ka‘ahanui. “There are so many really impressive Hawaiians who need to start speaking up. And, if we can at least help to get conversations started, to me that’s success.”

Mulling over these discussions, it occurred to me to look at the blogs I read and ask why I follow them. What makes them successful for me?

kam-mastWhile I read a lot of blogs for work (like Mack Collier’s Viral Garden and Chris Brogan) and for news (e.g., The New York Times’ The Lede, and KCRW’s Left, Right and Center), I love reading about what makes Hawai‘i Hawai‘i (like Ryan Ozawa’s Hawai‘i Blog and Nathan Kam’s Kam Family). Note, Native Hawaiian bloggers, send us your links. We would love to hear what you’re saying.

melissaThere is one constant I noticed among these diverse blogs – each has a particular voice. If you’ve ever read Melissa Chang’s Urban Mix Plate or Amber Naslund’s Altitude Branding you know right away who wrote it. Like most of the bloggers I follow, their voices (and hence personalities) are clear and consistent.

So with only these few criteria for success, we humbly put it before you the readers, what makes a good blog? Share your thoughts, we’re eager to learn.

Mahalo

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Hawaiian Arts & Implements for Sale

November 18, 2008

Many people have written asking where to get Hawaiian implements like the ones in our header. These were made by the artisans of Kumulau.

Kumulau will be having a private sale in Honolulu on Saturday, December 6 and Sunday, December 7, 2008. At the sale, there will be all sorts of Hawaiian arts and crafts such as kahili, kūpe‘e, ihe, hīha‘i and ki‘i pōhaku. They will also have the some of the supplies necessary to make your own implements. From cordage to sharks’ teeth, it’s a great place for Hawaiian artisans to get hard to find supplies.

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If you would like to know where the sale is, please send us an email at aina.aloha at yahoo dot com.

Mahalo

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Keiki Mahalo Cirque du Soleil for coming to Hawai‘i

November 13, 2008

In appreciation for bringing their artistry to Hawai‘i, Mayor Mufi Hannemann and the children of Kawaiaha‘o School gave the cast of Cirque du Soleil’s Saltimbanco a warm mahalo – Hawaiian style.

After the performance on Thursday evening, the children and Mayor joined cast members on stage. Bearing lei, the keiki first offered an oli mahalo in which they chanted their gratitude for the show choosing to come to Hawai‘i. After the oli, the children presented each of the 50 cast members with lei and honi (the traditional touching of the noses to share the breath of life). Mayor Hannemann presented singer Nicola Dawn (representing the entire cast) with a pū‘olo or bundle of sweet potato and Hawaiian salt wrapped in ti leaves. This gift symbolizes the fullness of life with staples from the mountains and the sea.

“We are thrilled our keiki have the opportunity to experience one of the world’s best shows here in Hawai‘i nei,” shared Kawaiaha‘o program director Wailani Robins. “Because Cirque du Soleil shared with us the joy of seeing beyond the ordinary, we wanted to share with them one of Hawaii’s greatest gifts – the aloha spirit.”

Hawaii’s appreciation was summed up by Mayor Hannemann. “I would like to thank Cirque du Soleil for bringing such a first rate production to Honolulu. The cast and crew have left audiences awe-struck.” The Mayor added, “I believe Honolulu has once again shown it is a truly great city when it comes to supporting the arts. A vibrant arts sector shows the true heart of a city, and I hope this bodes well for Cirque du Soleil returning to Honolulu with other extraordinary productions.”