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‘Aha Kūpuna 2010

Kristy Perez-Kaiwi
June 2010

He Hulu Ali‘i – Royal Feathers

Said of the adornment of a chief, or of an elderly chief himself who is one of a few survivors of his generation and therefore precious.

(Kawena Pukui, ‘Ōlelo No‘eau, 599)

Our kūpuna are precious and valuable to us, just like “hulu ali‘i”—which is one of the main reasons I opted to attend the 2010 ‘Aha Kūpuna—coordinated and hosted by Ka Lei Pāpahi ‘o Kākuhihewa. It was such an experience being amongst kūpuna from all over the islands! With a number of activities ranging from ceremonial protocol to “hands-on” cultural activities, the ‘Aha Kūpuna is surely a conference I’ll never forget.

Held in the 3rd week of June 2010, the ‘Aha Kūpuna was formulated to bridge the generation gap between kūpuna and ‘ōpio, create intergenerational learning opportunities, identify cultural sites in Wai‘anae, identify cultural issues, create cultural expression using mele, and develop interest in ahupua‘a research. Each day was dedicated to a specific focus and carefully themed to fit the conference’s goals and objectives.

Monday, June 21, 2010, marked the first day of the conference that started in the early morning at the Honolulu International Airport. Guests from the neighboring islands were lovingly greeted with lei and music as they boarded the bus to begin the annual conference.

Our first stop was at Mauna‘ala; a befitting location to connect with one another while honoring our beloved ali‘i. Delegates from Hawai‘i, Maui, Kaua‘i, and O‘ahu presented ho‘okupu, oli and mele at this sacred location. Representatives wore his or her group-assigned kīhei dyed in their respective island color. It was an appropriate and memorable way to begin this 4-day excursion.

Reconvening at the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, everyone settled in for orientation and sign-ups. Themed “Health and Wellness for Native Hawaiians,” Dr. Claire Ku‘uleilani Hughes gave tips on how to eat moderately, guidelines on how to teach keiki to eat good food, and advice on low fat dieting. She explained how 75–78% of one’s plate should consist of vegetables and carbohydrates, 12% comprised of fish or protein foods and 10% of fat. “Kawena Pukui explains that the food of our po‘e kahiko were kinolau of the gods,” thus, “When the Hawaiians ate, they ate in reverence.” Growing up in her family home, bad-talk was not permitted at the kitchen table when the family’s poi bowl was present. Older children made sure that bad-talk did not occur, or the poi would be covered and removed and ho‘oponopono was indeed needed.

Kūpuna received free lomilomi sessions from Ke Ola Mamo staff members. How great it was to participate in these free sessions! Bodily aches and pains slowly diminished, leaving kūpuna feeling refreshed and energized. With more than 50 people in attendance, Ke Ola Mamo was readily equipped with materials and brochures to keep attendees informed of important health screenings and check-ups. Click here for updated information on Ke Ola Mamo’s services.

The day’s activities ended at the Dr. Agnes Kalaniho‘oka‘a Cope Traditional Hawaiian Healing Center in Wai‘anae. We met kupuna Agnes Cope and members of the healing center who shared the story of the center‘s beginnings. Kupuna Agnes played an instrumental role in the center’s establishment. An offshoot of the Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, this center services over 11,000 patients. 71% of employees are Native Hawaiian, making it the largest Native Hawaiian healing center in Hawai‘i and the world! It is such a sight to see! The beautiful garden is full of native plants and has an amazing view overlooking the Mā‘ili coastline.

Dining at the Ka ‘Aha‘āina Café and fellowshipping with kūpuna was a great way to end the evening. The sun was setting on an eventful day with more activities still to come . . .

(Be on the lookout for our short story series on the visits to the Wai‘anae wahi pana.)