Welcomes Her People Home.
In this issue I’d like to take you on a journey of a few incredible places on O’ahu, the Island I call home. On this particular visit, the Kealoha’s and Scullion’s prepare for Punahou’s 2018 E Mo’olelo Kakou Holoku Pageant.
Over the next four days, I'll introduce you to a few special places. They are as much of our family identity as water is life to every living creature. I will also visit places I haven’t seen in a long time. But I hope they are places that remember me and return me to a time I fondly remember.
Today is the first day for all hands on deck. The work begins Wednesday afternoon with my brother in tow. We head to the innards of Waimanalo. Waimanalo is a valley rich with agriculture. It is also home to a kind family friend who shares their abundance of king ti, haleconia, and red ginger. Driving along the uncurbed pot-hole muddy road, we arrive at the base of the Ko’olau’s. It feels like time rolled back a few decades.
As the sun sets, dripping from the sweat of the heavy plumeria scented dew, we scratch our mosquito bitten legs. The engine running, we climb into the truck. We make our descent out of the valley, the mist caressing our face, we fill our eyes with the pristine waterfalls of Waimanalo. Soon we hit Kalaniane'ole Hwy to the gorgeous Tahiti blues of Makapu’u. Finally we hit the home stretch through Kalama Valley and rest our eyes on the rare greens of Koko Head.
The next morning a quick swim at Outrigger Canoe Club (OCC) before 8:00AM start time. In the rain we harvest monstera and heliconia from the amazing grounds of Punahou School. Back out to Hawaii Kai we clean our riches and then return to Punahou to stage our bounty.
It’s Friday and we harvest more monstera and red ginger. Then off to the west side to meet a wonderful practitioner to collect 22 strands of Pikake (jasmine). O’ahu experienced an unusual amount of rain which is not good for growing Pikake. No one had the delicate aromatic white flower, except for a small farm in Waianae on the leeward side of the island. We knew we found GOLD!
It’s been a few years since Waianae and I embraced and she remains beautiful and steadfast in her grandeur. Her oceans are breathtaking, mountains spectacular and people gracious.
’Auwe (ugh), 5:00AM hits us like a Joe Foreman knockout punch and we’re on the road by 6:00AM. Walking into the Punahou Gym with 60 seconds to spare, people gather for a pule (prayer). My job with several of the pall bearers and volunteers, started with more than 2000 pua melia hand-picked from a farm on Molokai. We tooth-picked (tooth picks inserted in the stem) each blossom and placed 500 in each of the four kahili.
The same weekend as Holoku Pageant is the Punahou Relays. An annual ILH track event to qualify relay runners into the ILH Championships next weekend. Switching gears to the 4x200 relay race, we witness Kealoha and her three teammates break the record with a new time of 1:43:42. Two hours later, she and three other teammates place first in the 4x100. Their time of 50:17 is less than one second off the record of 49:45 set by Punahou in 2010.
A Hui Hou
It’s been an incredible 2-1/2 weeks in the place I was raised and the island hasn’t forgotten one of its own. Each ahupua’a, her mountains, skies and oceans continue to teach, nurture and love me unconditionally. She welcomes her people with an open heart reminding you to never forget your place.
From early morning and afternoon dips in the ocean to the fond embrace of Waianae mountains, she says, "Hele mai.". From Makiki valley and Ka Punahou to pau hana at OCC she says, "Welina wai". Then the drive along Kalaniana’ole Hwy to a fond embrace of Diamond Head, Cromwell’s, Wailupe, Kawaikui, Niu and Maunalua, she says, "A hui hou teetah”.
At the homestead, music and mele lift our spirits. Family pau hana warms our hearts, and laughter eases our souls. We reminisce about childhood antics and family holo holo. Through our parents we look to the future and we are graced with a sense of pride and purpose. We are grounded because of our family practices, our Hawaiian traditions and a strong sense of place.
I'll be returning to Morro Bay in a few days. And it reminds me how much place and people breathe life into our mind, body and soul. Look to your place, the place that grounds you. Look to the place that embraces you, the place that charts your course. And you’ll never lose your way.