by Lenora A. Hayman
During Easter week, April 2007, I travelled to Maui, Hawaii to learn how Hawaiians are perpetuating their culture. At Maui’s most Hawaiian hotel, the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, Lahaina, Mike White, the enthusiastic general manager has encouraged his staff to participate in Project Po’okela (excellence), which stresses the importance of knowledge and pride in Hawaiian Culture and provides hospitality, helpfulness, respect and honesty, giving visitors an enriched vacation experience.
I shared cocktails on the lawn with Luana Pa’ahana, Director of Sales and Marketing, Lori Sablas, Cultural Director and Mike White, the G.M. while watching Pu’ukekaa cliff divers holding flares plunge from Black Rock at the Sheraton Maui Resort.
Later we were treated to a lavish Hawaiian feast by chef Tom Muromoto and sous chef Chris Napoleon who accommodate culinary tourism in their native Hawaiian cuisine. The Opakapaka deep, sea snapper patty cakes included crab, scallops and shrimp with a port wine reduction. The seafood Lawalu came in a steaming taro leaf package, enveloping Opakapaka and lobster, sweet Maui onions, ginger and Hawaiian sea salt. Their banana caramel eruption, a hot fudge brownie with Macadamia nut ice-cream went from my lips to my hips.
We were invited to visit Lori Sablas’ tutu’s (grandmother’s) home for an authentic backyard barbeque. We cut pineapple into presentation boats (left), spiked flowers onto palm ribs and almost learned the hula.
During the Easter weekend my group was moved to the Ritz-Carlton at Kapalua for the Celebration of the Arts Festival. Long before Dr. Phil, the Hawaiians learned how to heal dysfunctional childhoods. On Good Friday at 5:30 a.m. we gathered on the D.T. Fleming beach for the Hiuwai and E. Ala E. Standing shoulder to shoulder in a circle we offered forgiveness to and asked to be forgiven by our ancestors. Then we entered the sea to cleanse our souls. Now rejuvenated, we faced the rising sun and chanted “E Ala E” to greet the new day.
Sam Kahai Kaai (right) blew the conch shell in the hotel courtyard to call the artisans and elders to drink the ‘awa (an intoxicating pepper plant) the sacred water of the god Kane and pledge to further promote all things Hawaiian.
Dressed in ceremonial cloaks, members of the cultural and arts community advisors welcomed tribal members to the hotel lobby for the unveiling of a stone carving by Hoaka delos Reyes representing the ancestral gateway between life and the hereafter. The creatures on the carving depict the return of ancestors in other forms of nature such as hawks, sharks and lizards.
There was a display of kiheipili patchwork quilts (left) and feathered capes and headdresses. I wore an air-dried clay flower in my hair. Highly prized Ni’ihau shell necklaces created from wee oyster pearls were on sale. A $15,000 multi-coloured strand caught my eye.
That evening, I attended the emotional musical ”The Queen’s Story” performed by the men and women of the Maui Community Correctional Centre which told the story of Queen Lili’u’okalani’s challenges during imprisonment and those of present-day prisoners.
The weekend concluded with the Celebration Luau with suckling pig cooked for hours in an underground imu. The Ahumani girls’ band opened the show and the Halau Hula Kauluokala of Maui with Uluwehi Guerrero singing some of his falsetto pieces provided the upscale entertainment.
“E Ola Ka Mana” – Let the Hawaiian spirit live!
For More Information:
Maui Nui – Hawaiian culture online
Go Hawaii – Visit Maui, the valley isle
Maui Tours Now Available:
Full-Day Maui Tour: Road to Hana Tour
Haleakala Sunset Tour and Dinner on Maui
Paddle, Snorkel and Learn to Surf – All in a Day on Maui
East Maui Waterfalls and Rainforest Hike
Maui Helicopter Tour Over Haleakala National Park and the Hana Rainforest
About the author:
Lenora Hayman is a Food/Wine/Travel writer based in Vancouver. She was born in New Zealand where she became interested in Maori and other Polynesian cultures which are similar but not the same. Since then, her travels have taken her to Hawaii, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tahiti, Niue, Tonga, the Marquesas and Tuamotus to study the differences. There is no truth to the saying “Once you have seen one island, you have seen them all”.
All photos are by Lenora Hayman.