KAPALUA — “The voices of the people are the voices of God.” Queen Liliuokalani, respecting her subjects, said it.
Practitioners of Hawaiian culture quoted it and then — for the 18th consecutive year — added their own words of wisdom at talk story sessions Easter weekend at the annual Celebration of the Arts at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. Among notable nuggets of truth, lively dialogue and just plain interesting — all well worth repeating — were these:
On Hawaiians’ unhurried sense of time: “In Hawaii, things get done when they are supposed to be done. For the next few days, free yourself. Go with the flow,” said Ritz-Carlton Cultural Advisor Clifford Nae‘ole, director of the festival. (The columnist is tempted to add, “That explains a lot.”)
“The Hawaiian chiefs were servants of the people. Some of our politicians today could learn from that.” — Cultural Practitioner.
“If Hawaii were without our culture, this would just be another beach,” said Chanter and Culture Practitioner Charles Kaupu.
“We Hawaiians come from every color of the rainbow. They all do not look like me.” — Charles Kaupu.
“We will not have a fire dance at tomorrow night’s luau. There is no Hawaiian fire dance. That’s Samoan.” — Charles Kaupu.
“When you are tasting Hawaiian food at a luau, do not go ‘eeeeewwww.’ That will hurt our feelings.” — Charles Kaupu.
“You want to be part of the community? You have a desire to belong — to fit in? This begins with you. We really are quite welcoming. We love the same things — the land, the sea, the sunsets, the flowers. We enjoy the same things. Realize this and the doors will be open,” said Kumu Hula Hokulani Holt.
“To fit in, observe the Kamehameha (the native born). Observe the way we do things. If I am in Japan, and everybody is wearing gray and green, I do not wear bright colors. This is a decision to stick out.” — Hokulani Holt.
“What a struggle it is to be a Hawaiian. Skateboard parks are not Hawaiian. Hawaiians have to have three jobs. Some have to migrate to Las Vegas far from the culture. We have lost the opportunity to gather our traditional plants. There are times we would like to do a ceremony without a tourist asking a question. There are times when it just has to be us,” said Kumu Hula Napua Greig-Makua.
“Why do I teach hula? To know who we are. We charge hardly anything for a hula lesson — $30 a month for two lessons a week (less than $4 a lesson). Piano teachers get $60 a lesson. Fourteen years ago, we charged $25.” — Napua Greig-Makua
“If I had a choice, I would not teach hula at Kamehameha Schools (in Kula). I taught six years in my home. But now we can’t do that. We are banned from teaching in our home. We can’t do that, because our neighbors complain about the traffic. People ask, ‘What are all those cars doing here?’ But where else are my students going to practice? We can’t use a county facility. We need a cultural center in every community.” — Napua Greig-Makua
“We are products of the ‘ohana (extended family). No make shame (is our credo). Do not do things the ‘ohana will be sad about.” — Hokulani Holt
“Our kings and queens left us many great gifts... the establishment of a maternity hospital, Queen’s Hospital. These are the legacies we must protect.” — Clifford Nae‘ole
“Our people were here 2,000 years ago. There was a Hawaii, but there was no France or Italy.” — Cultural Practitioner
The Voices of Maui and Hawaii. Want to be a part of this place? Observe, listen, understand and appreciate the culture.
Na Kupuna made up of Lahaina senior citizens provided lively music and hula between sessions on Hawaiian culture at the 18th annual Celebration of the Arts.