At a recent gathering at the Queen Lili‘uokalani Children’s Center in Wai‘anae, Keawe‘aimoku Koholokula Ph.D., speaks to men about the attributes and principles of Hawaiian male leadership. Photo by Josiah Patterson. All rights reserved.

Building Up

Through new leadership, a unique fitness program and resurrection of the hale mua concept, the role of Hawaiian kāne is being restored and redefined.

By daniel ikaika ito / photography by josiah patterson

According to mythology, Kū, one of the four major males in the Hawaiian pantheon, once lived simply, as a mortal man. When his family experienced a great famine and were on the brink of starvation, the loving father knew drastic measures were necessary to provide food for his keiki and wife, Hina. He stood on his head and sank into the earth. Hina cried for the loss of her husband, and her tears watered the ‘āina where Kū had disappeared. There sprouted the first ‘ulu tree, whose fruit saved Kū’s family and countless others from starvation. The story shows Kū’s sacrifice and strength, truly admirable qualities for a kāne. Continue reading

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Ka Pā Hula o Kaheakulani under the direction of kumu hula Kalani Akana on the day of their ‘ūniki ceremony in August 2014. photos by Kapulani Landgraf.

The Ties That Bind Us

Before a hula student graduates and becomes a kumu hula, he or she must go through the protocols of ‘ūniki. In 1971, the same year the hula competition began at the Merrie Monarch Festival, a special ‘ūniki class was formed—one that has shaped the modern hula world. For this story, MANA was honored to get a glimpse into this private and cherished tradition of ‘ūniki.

By Catherine Tarleton

A true study of hula demands total participation of mind, body and spirit. It is not available in books or videos, although there are plenty of both. It requires shivering shoulders standing in cold Waimea rain to feel the lyrics of a mele; rough hands from scraping and sand-polishing an ipu gourd; a hoarse throat from practicing a 100-line oli; sore legs from interminable ‘uwehe and tears from weariness, from discipline or from the first joyful breakthrough.

An ancient hula protocol, ‘ūniki can incorporate years of preparation, as students learn not only to chant and dance, but to craft their own rhythm instruments, lei and costumes. Only the most dedicated hula student is chosen to make the transition via ‘ūniki to ‘ōlapa (dancer), ho‘opa‘a (senior chanter) or kumu hula. The ceremonies themselves vary widely from kumu to kumu and hālau to hālau, but common elements might include fasting, bathing in the ocean, intensive rehearsals and sharing ‘ai lolo or ‘aha‘aina ‘ūniki, a ritual meal of a roasted suckling pig, followed by a performance in front of hula experts to evaluate the student’s readiness. Continue reading

Large portions of ‘Īao Stream have been left bone-dry by diversions. Photo by Ed Greevy. All rights reserved.

In Wai We Trust

Balancing Hawai‘i’s water is a constant tug-of-war.

By Alyssa S. Navares Myers

Diamonds and oil may be among the world’s most expensive commodities, but even they are worthless without water. Water sustains cultures and countries in our growing global population, and, although it may not always carry a price tag, it is undoubtedly the most valued resource on Earth.

Hawaiians understood the importance and value of wai long before Europeans arrived. It was respected and managed as a kinolau, or physical embodiment, of the god Kāne. As an essential source of life, wai stretched mauka to makai through ahupua‘a—from the wao akua, realm of the gods, to the wao kanaka, realm of humans. Being so integral to the lives of all, Hawaiians believed water was a gift to be shared by everyone. Continue reading