Practice the culture or lose it, Kapu tells Hawaiians after march
LAHAINA – Native Hawaiians who believe a higher power watches over them completed a 193-mile trek around the island on Saturday, March 7, battling cold weather much of the way but avoiding heavy rains.
At journey’s end at the Moku’ula historic site, a crowd of several hundred honored 36 kupuna who have passed away with prayers. As each name was called out, a young Hawaiian placed dry taro leaves to be consumed over a small fire ignited on the site.
Kupuna Ke’eaumoku Kapu, who organized and led the march most of the way with planning help from leaders of 12 moku (districts), said the clouds and rain often parted for the marchers. The group escaped heavy rains, with the spirits “washing away” their path, and then “washing the land again” after the group passed, Kapu said.
In a powerful statement at journey’s end, Kapu said that “if we don’t practice our culture, we are going to lose it. The old ways link us together. It is that simple.
“As Hawaiians, we realize that this is our time. We have problems, but we do not find the time to address them.”
To special interests that Kapu implied dominate the island, he said “enough already.
“We need to instill home rule. We can do this in the most peaceful manner if we link arms. We need to come together as an institution.”
Before the Royal Guard of King Kamehameha and a large crowd, Kapu noted in the closing ceremony, “We took this march not to prove anything,” but they did reach consensus in moku after moku. Native Hawaiians want “home rule.”
Darrell Naeole, on his first march, walked most of the way successfully over steep terrain but sprained an ankle tripping off a curb in Kihei.
Part of the well-known extended family that includes cultural advisor Clifford Naeole, Darrell said before his fall that the strain of the walk sent deep pain coursing through his legs one day.
In a Hana hale overnight, the pain mysteriously disappeared and never came back the rest of the march. “I call the place the ‘healing hale,'” he said.
Even though 100 percent Hawaiian, Darrell said he has never known much about his culture. His mother spoke fluent Hawaiian, but to protect him, refused to teach him either the language or Hawaiian ways.
Speaking Hawaiian was against the law and brought on punishment.
Riding a backup bus part of the way on Saturday, Naeole said the experience of meeting Hawaiians throughout the island made him want to learn more about the culture.
Marchers were supported by local communities who provided lomi lomi massages for tired limbs, food, shelter and showers – sometimes in their own homes.
Near the end, Louie Aquino pulled up on the highway shoulder a short distance from the finish with a load of coconuts and opened the tops to provide a refreshing drink as the sun finally emerged mid-morning.