Tuesday, October 30, 2012


The Pineapple

Named Hala kahiki by the Hawaiians,  a tropical plant with edible multiple fruit consisting of coalesced berries, named for resemblance to the pine cone, is the most economically important plant in the Bromeliaceae family. Pineapples may be cultivated from a crown cutting of the fruit, possibly flowering in 20–24 months and fruiting in the following six months.
Pineapple may be consumed fresh, canned, juiced, and are found in a wide array of food stuffs – dessert, fruit salad, jam, yogurt, ice cream, candy, and as a complement to meat dishes. In addition to consumption, in the Philippines the pineapple's leaves are used as the source of a textile fiber called piña, and is employed as a component of wall paper and furnishings, amongst other uses.
Unlike many other fruits, pineapple does not ripen post harvest, so it is picked when it is ripe. Recently I heard two people talking about this wonderful fruit and their discussion went to the origin of this delectible treat. One said to the other, "I think the Dole family invented it genetically and started a farm in Hawaii." The other did not disagree but said they heard a similar story but it was the Delmonte family. Thinking this was an absurd assessment on the subject of the origin of the Pineapple I decided to look it up. What I found was surprising. Was the origin indeed Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Indonesia or just where? If you don't know, venture a guess, you may be surprised.

Mahalo for the visit.

Palolo Bob

Friday, October 26, 2012

Priest - Kahuna

The Priest - Kahuna

Kahuna - http://www.huna.org/html/kahuna.html

Kahuna is a Hawaiian word, defined in the Pukui & Elbert (1986) as a "priest, sorcerer, magician, wizard, minister, expert in any profession".Forty different types of kahuna are listed in the book Tales from the Night Rainbow. Kamakau lists more than 20 in the healing professions alone, including for example "Kahuna la'au lapa'au" (an expert in herbal medicine) and "kahuna haha" (an expert in diagnosing illnesses).
With the revival of the Hawaiian culture beginning in the 1970s, some native Hawaiian cultural practitioners call themselves kahuna today. Others, particularly devout Christians, disdain the term. The word has been given an esoteric or secret meaning by modern followers of Max Freedom Long and Huna to emphasise a priestly or shamanic standing, however, those interested in true Hawaiian traditional mysticism must understand that "Huna" is not Hawaiian and should be wary of anyone using the term.

Many myths have grown up around kahuna. One is that kahuna were outlawed after the white man came to Hawai'i. Kahuna can be divided into three categories: "craft" kahuna, such as kalai wa'a, an expert canoe maker, and ho'okele, an expert navigator; "sorcerers" including kahuna 'ana'ana; and healers. Craft kahuna were never prohibited; however, during the decline of native Hawaiian culture many died out and did not pass on their wisdom to new students. As an example, when the Hōkūle‘a was built to be sailed to the South Pacific to prove the voyaging capabilities of the ancient Hawaiians, master navigator Mau Piailug from Satawal was brought to Hawai'i to teach the Hawaiians navigation.
Share your personal experience or bit of knowledge regarding these keepers of the culture.
Palolo Bob

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Great Moa of Aotearoa (New Zealand)


Flightless giant island-living bird was the New Zealand giant moa  a member of the ratite family. There were several species of moa, some taller than the elephant bird at 7 ft (2 metres) to the middle of the back and 13 ft (4 metres) to the head (twice the height of a tall man), although their necks probably projected forwards like a kiwi rather than upwards as usually depicted. They were more lightly built than the elephant bird, but still three times the weight of a large man at up to 200 - 275 kg. The Giant Moa's eggs measured 10 inches (24 cm) long and 7 inches (18 cm wide). Females were 1.5 times the size and almost 3 times the weight of males, leading scientists the revise moa classification and the number of moa species. In the past, the males and females had been erroneously considered different species due to this size difference. The moas occupied similar niches to mammalian herbivores elsewhere.
New Zealand was even more isolated than Madagascar and had no land mammals except bats. The first Polynesians arrived in New Zealand around the 10th century, becoming the Maori. The dominant life-forms were the giant land birds that lived in the fringes of the semi-tropical forests and on the grasslands and which the Maoris called 'Moas'. Encountering the huge birds, the Maoris made legends of the giant moa, calling it the Poua-Kai and describing it as a huge bird of terrific size and strength which, in a great battle, destroyed half the warriors of a powerful tribe with its terrible rending talons and thrusting bea.
Moas were huge ratite 'running birds' like the Elephant Bird, but they inhabited the grasslands and forest-fringe in extraordinary numbers and variety. Scientists later gave them the family name Dinornithidae, 'terrible birds'. The aggressive Polynesian invaders became a Moa-hunting culture and for the moa, which had had no predators in 100 million years, the effect was devastating.
Does anyone know why the Moa were not able to survive in this land so well suited for their existance?
Please offer your information and comment.
Aloha, Palolo Bob

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Kumu Keli'i Tau'a


Though he didn't set out to become an expert on Hawaiian culture, Keli'i Tau'a may be the most revered teacher of hula and chant you never heard of.

It wasn’t until young Keli‘i Tau‘a’s feet hit the water that he remembered he’d never learned to swim.

The thirteen-year-old student at Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu had been raised in Kula, far from the ocean, but when, on a Saturday excursion to Waikiki Beach, his mates ran to the end of the concrete- and-stone breakwater and jumped off, he leaped too.
“Any human being does the natural thing—the dog paddle,” he chuckles. “But I was struggling. I let myself sink and thought, ‘Well, this is it,’ then I kicked myself up and started going again. When I looked ahead and saw all the tourists on the shore, I thought, ‘Man, I got a long way to go.’”

It wasn’t the last time Tau‘a would dive into something without knowing how deep it would be.

Today the sixty-six-year-old Ha‘iku resident is an acknowledged master of Hawaiian music and chant, and an expert in traditional ceremonies. Some of the Islands’ most respected cultural leaders consider him a mentor.

Because of his knowledge of ancient protocols, Tau‘a’s been called on to bless everything from new canoes to a jetliner. He’s led his hula halau, Maui Nui o Kama, for thirty-six years, and taught Hawaiian language and culture at Maui Community College for more than a decade. One of the most prolific Hawaiian-language songwriters living today, he has recorded more than a dozen albums of Hawaiian music and chant, collaborating with Hawaiian music greats like Roland Cazimero and Gabby Pahinui.

But while Tau‘a is revered by students of Hawaiian culture, many people outside that community don’t even recognize his name.

“He just flies under the radar,” says Clifford Nae‘ole, cultural advisor to the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.

Nae‘ole learned hula from Tau‘a, and says that, as a teacher, Tau‘a was strict, exacting and old school. “What mattered to him was the culture, the protocol. We would practice in the morning, early, before the sun came up sometimes. Sometimes we’d practice late at night. He was saying, ‘How much do you want this? Show me what you want, and that’s what you will receive.’”

Nae‘ole says Tau‘a’s humility, a product of the Hawaiian spiritual traditions he follows, and his intense devotion to studying and teaching rather than self-promotion, are some of the reasons he isn’t better known in the wider community.

That may be changing. Tau‘a recently returned to the recording studio after more than a decade. He released a lyrical album, Cloud Warriors, in 2008, and a new album of chant, E Ala Hawai‘i, earlier this year. An album of songs inspired by the voyaging canoe Hokule‘a is planned for release in September. And last April, at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua’s Celebration of the Arts, Tau‘a received Na Mahana Award of Excellence in recognition of his lifetime of dedication to Hawaiian culture.

This fine man, champion of Hawaiian Studies and accomplished musician, helped me enormously while I was writing my book. Please take a moment to visit his website to learn more about him and his work at, http://www.keliitaua.com
Mahalo and Aloha
Palolo Bob

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Great Wa'a - Once the rulers of the Pacific

Timeless Craft
From Maden Voyage Productions, this short video represents a glimpse into the past regarding the methods, skill and spirituality associated with the design, building and launching the great Polynesian canoe.

Polynesia began with the voyaging canoe. More than three thousand years ago, the uninhabited islands of Samoa and Tonga were discovered by an ancient people. With them were plants, animals, and a language with origins in Southeast Asia; and along the way they had become a seafaring people. Arriving in probably a few small groups, and living in isolation for centuries, they evolved distinctive physical and cultural traits. Samoa and Tonga became the cradle of Polynesia, and the center of what is now Western Polynesia.
More than two thousand years ago, Polynesians exploring eastward, during times when winds shifted away from the prevailing easterlies, discovered the Tahitian and Marquesas Islands. From these "centers of diffusion" explorers reached outward as far as Hawai'i to the north, Easter Island to the east, and New Zealand to the southwest. Before European open ocean exploration began, Eastern Polynesia had been explored and settled.

Canoe Design Evolution

Because the exploration and settlement of Eastern Polynesia originated from the same centers, the design of the canoes must have been much the same throughout. But that design disappeared. Ships are as mortal as their makers. Except for fragments of ancient canoes excavated on New Zealand and pieces of a large canoe recently unearthed from a bog on Huahine, there is no hard evidence.1 Except for a petroglyph on Easter Island, and passing references in the old legends, there is no descriptive record.

Taken from the pages of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the above is a quote from the legendary Herb Kawainui Kane.

Share your experience with these majestic vessels. Share how you are connected to these wooden sailing craft that were at one time the absolute rulers of the waves.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ancient Hula - Kahiko

Hula Kahiko
Hula kahiko performance at the pa hula in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hula kahiko, often defined as those hula composed prior to 1893 which do not include modern instrumentation (such as guitar, `ukulele, etc.), encompasses an enormous variety of styles and moods, from the solemn and sacred to the frivolous. Many hula were created to praise the chiefs and performed in their honor, or for their entertainment. Types of hula kahiko include ʻālaʻapapa, haʻa, ʻolapa, and many others.
Many hula dances are considered to be a religious performance, as they are dedicated to, or honoring, a Hawaiian goddess or god. As was true of ceremonies at the heiau, the platform temple, even a minor error was considered to invalidate the performance. It might even be a presage of bad luck or have dire consequences. Dancers who were learning to do such hula necessarily made many mistakes. Hence they were ritually secluded and put under the protection of the goddess Laka during the learning period. Ceremonies marked the successful learning of the hula and the emergence from seclusion.
Hula kahiko is performed today by dancing to the historical chants. Many hula kahiko are characterized by traditional costuming, by an austere look, and a reverence for their spiritual roots.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Halau

The Halau -
A hālau is Hawaiian word meaning a school, academy, or group. Literally, the word means "a branch from which many leaves grow." Today a hālau usually describes a hula school (hālau hula).

The teacher at the hālau is the kumu hula, where kumu means source of knowledge, or literally just teacher. Often you will find that there is a hierarchy in hula schools - starting with the kumu (teacher), alaka'i (leader), kokua (helpers), and then the 'olapa (dancers) or haumana (students).

The word was also used for the long open-air houses, often constructed at the shores, where the instruction took place.

The responsibility of each hula dancer is to develop a deep sense of humility, commitment, dedication, discipline, respect, and love for others. It is equally important for each student to develop a good attitude and self-respect.
The goal of the Halau is to share the love of Hula and Hawaiian traditions as inspired and preserved from our Kupuna , and to teach from the heart,so it will carry forward for future generations.

“I mohala no ka lehua i ke ke'ekehi 'ia e ka ua“

Translation: The Lehua blossom unfolds when the rains tread on it.
Explanation: People respond better to gentle words than to scoldings.

You see Hula is not just a dance, hula it is a way of life to which many kumu and haumana dedicate their lives to the study of Hula. To be chosen as a student of hula is a great honor. Both the kumu, and haumana are highly respected and often make a life long commitment to the Hula.

Training in a hula school of old was strict, with adherence to kapu (forbidden) rules, being stringent. The kapu varied through the different schools, however certain codes of conduct such as personal cleanliness, not cutting hair or nails, abstinence from sexual activity, and restrictions of certain foods were usual. The rules of today are not quite that stringent but they are strict.

The study of Hula is not just dancing, it is the study of the Hawaiian Culture, Language, History, Legends, Traditions of the Hawaiian people. Kumu Hula in the present day are referred to using the title "kumu hula". This wasn't always the case, however. In the old days, a kumu hula was an individual who had undergone extensive training that culminated in an `uniki graduation ceremony. Nowadays, anyone who teaches classes may call himself or herself a kumu hula. And anyone who directs a halau tends to be automatically called a kumu hula, regardless of whether or not the teacher considers himself or herself to be a kumu hula.

For those who are involved in a Halau, as Kumu or Haumana, I invite you to comment on your experiences, your Halau and how it has enriched your life.