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November 2006

Hawai`i News

Hau`oli Lā Hānau e Kalākaua

By Roy Alameida

David La‘amea Kamanakapu‘u Mahinulani Naloia‘ehuokalani Lumialani Kalākaua was born on November 16, 1836 in Honolulu and ascended to the throne at a crucial time in Hawai‘i’s history. During his reign, the native Hawaiian population continued to decline because of illness from foreign diseases, high infant mortality and the oppression of everything that was Hawaiian. Meanwhile, foreign powers made bold attempts to remove Kalākaua from the throne and take control of the Hawaiian government. The most ruthless of these were a small group of foreign businessmen who wanted to impose their own values and economic politics. But how can a culture be decimated and yet the people remain? Kalākaua fought the usurping changes in the kingdom. To prevent the extinction of his people, he adopted Ho‘ oulu Lāhui (Increase the Hawaiian race) as his motto. He chose the path of returning to the old traditions, but intuitively knew the fate of Hawaiians.

His sister, Lili‘uokalani wrote that

Kalakaua’s reign was, in a material sense, the golden age of Hawaiian history. The wealth and importance of the Islands enormously increased, and as a direct consequence of the King’s acts. It has been currently supposed that the policy and foresight of the “missionary party” is to be credited with all that he accomplished since they succeeded in abrogating so many of his prerogatives, and absorbing thelion’s share of the benefits derived from it…it should, however, be only necessary to remember that the measures which brought about our accession of wealth were not at all in line with a policy of annexation to the United States, which was the very essence of the dominant “missionary” idea. In fact, his progressive foreign policy was well calculated to discourage it…

Lili‘uokalani, 1898 (from Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii ’s Queen.)

After seventeen years as Hawai‘i’s progressive monarch, he sailed to San Francisco to help restore his failing health. He died there, at the Palace Hotel, in January 1891.


A 6.7 Lucky-You-Live-Hawai`i

By Rochelle delaCruz

Daniel "Milton" Tilton and Irene Lacy can still shaka and smile after a major earthquake hit all the Hawaiian Islands on October 15th. Even though many things fell and broke inside their house in Pa`auilo on the Hāmākua Coast of Hawai`i island, this stone wall surrounding their porch was the main structural damage.
Photo by Dan Crabtree

At 7:07am on Sunday October 15th, a 6.7 earthquake shook the entire chain of Hawaiian Islands, knocking power out on O`ahu, Maui and Hawai`i island. Many oldtimers said that the 15-second long quake was the worst they have ever experienced. And even though everyone reported being well shaken up, the miracle is that no one was seriously hurt and except for a couple of historic churches, buildings were not reduced to rubble. As we like to say in the Islands, “Lucky you live Hawai`i!”

The epicenter of the quake was about six miles off the west coast of Hawai`i island, southwest of Puakō which is near Kawaihae Harbor. Earthquakes on the island of Hawai`i are nothing new because of the steady volcanic activity, but the very active Kīlauea volcano which has been erupting since 1983 is located on the east side of the island which is the usual earthquake area. But this time, Kona and Waikoloa, high tourist areas on the west side with many expensive hotels, took the brunt of the quake. Agricultural areas of Waimea and Kohala also sustained heavy damage in reservoirs and irrigation systems which are still being assessed. And had there been life-threatening injuries, the toll would have been higher because hospitals in those areas were also damaged and might not have been able to treat those who were seriously injured.

All of the islands reported power failure but none as serious as on O`ahu, where the power outage shut down Honolulu International Airport. While some incoming planes were allowed to land, outgoing passengers arriving for scheduled flights were not only delayed, but also without water or bathroom facilities. Airports on the other islands were able to resume flights by early afternoon; unfortunately, most of the flights to the continental U.S. leave from Honolulu. By 9 pm on Sunday night, only half of O`ahu had power restored.

To make matters worse, O`ahu experienced heavy rains on the day of the earthquake, which moved on to Hawai`i island the next day, contributing to more land slides and road closures.

By Tuesday, federal relief and recovery assistance was assured when President Bush declared a major disaster for the entire state and dispatched a 90-person FEMA team. Estimates of damage are now past $74.2 million and costs are expected to continue rising. But there have also been rumors of older residents in remote areas not reporting damage for fear that they will be forced to leave their homes with no where to go.

The earthquake exposed many problems such as the dependence on electricity for major operations such as the airport and television and radio stations, which led to a breakdown in communication. Many islanders in the power and news blackout heard from friends and relatives on the continent who were able to watch CNN for coverage. But not all telephones were working either, so contact was sporadic and news coverage was thin.

The earthquake exposed a serious lack of emergency preparedness in the islands. But considering the force of the quake and the lack in infrastructure, injuries and damages could have been much worse.


Cyndi Pa Keeps the Tradition of Pā`ū Rider

by Rochelle delaCruz

Cyndi Pa, wearing the banner of the year she was Pā`ū Queen, rides again in the 2006 Aloha Festivals Parade in Honolulu, O`ahu.
Photo from John Caminiti

Cyndi Pa lives in Everett, Washington and just returned from Honolulu, where she was one of the pā`ū riders in the 2006 Aloha Festivals parade with this year’s theme of the Year of the Paniolo. The former pā`ū queens were asked to ride in this year’s parade and Cyndi is one of them. “It was an honor to be invited to ride again,” said Cyndi.

Cyndi was born on O`ahu and was a pā`ū rider for nearly 30 years. The first time she was asked to ride, it was because she owned a black, Arabian gelding. From then on, Cyndi rode in two to three parades a year on all the islands. She has also been a pā`ū rider in the Rose Bowl Parade, the Wisconsin City of Festivals Parade, the Fiesta Day Parade in Arizona and the El Dorado Parade in Las Vegas.

The beautiful pā`ū riders are the favorites of all parade watchers in Hawai`i . Each island is represented by a pā`ū princess, resplendent in the color and symbol of that island. The color of Hawai`i island is red, its symbol the `ōhia lehua; Maui is pink, symbol is lokelani; O`ahu is yellow, symbol is `ilima; Kaua`i is purple, symbol – mokihana; Molokai is green, symbol – kukui; Lāna`i is orange, symbol – kauna`oa; and Ni`ihau is white, symbol is pūpū. With six others on horseback for each island, the pā`ū segment of a parade has at least 50 horses and riders. All are wearing the colors and flowers, seeds or shells of the island they represent, even the horses. There is a pā`ū queen, elected by the princesses, who starts the parade. Cyndi was asked to be queen when she was only 39 years old, the youngest queen ever elected. While it is an honor to be chosen as queen, once a princess rides as queen, she cannot ride again as princess. So it was with special pride and pleasure that Cyndi returned to Honolulu to participate in this year’s Aloha Festivals Parade.

Cyndi Pa graduated from Radford High School on O`ahu and is the daughter of the late Joseph K. and Verna Pa with family ties to both O`ahu and Kaua`i. She moved to Everett eleven years ago and manages a restaurant. In addition, she is a caterer and wedding coordinator and owns a limo service. Cyndi has one son and a granddaughter.

What is a Pā`ū Rider? Scroll down to find out more from Roy Alameida


Beauty and Grace in the Saddle

By Roy Alameida

The next time you attend a parade in Hawai‘i, whether it’s the Aloha Festivals or the King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade, and see the lovely and gracious ladies draped in velvet or satin smiling and waving to the crowd while riding a horse—have pity. These women who represent each of the main Hawaiian Islands could be miserable.

Photo from Cyndi Pa
Cyndi Pa -- Princess of Maui

It’s for sure that these women, known as pā‘ū riders, are thirsty and famished since they must refrain from food and drinks at least 12 hours ahead of time before a parade. This has a practical purpose, so that once they are wrapped and on horseback, they don’t have to get off until the end of the parade. The tradition of being draped in yards of material dates back to the 1800s when ranch women draped themselves in yards of calico cloth as a dust cover to protect their fine clothing from dust as they rode their mounts to social gatherings. They did not ride side saddle but rather, rode astride and placed the cloth across their laps as protection. Today, velvet or satin are preferred because they have a graceful drape. The word pā‘ū (pronounced pah—oo) is the Hawaiian term for skirt, those flowing wrap-around garments worn by women horseback riders. Today, pā‘ū riders are an integral part of the floral parades in Hawai‘i and elsewhere such as Seattle, Oregon, and Las Vegas.

One may wonder what keeps the wraps of material from unraveling as these women ride along on a mount in pouring rain or sweltering heat. It’s the nuts. Kukui or candlenuts to be precise. There are six total that keep the nine to twelve yards held together—two in front, two in back and one on each side twisted into the draped garment. That is all that holds the material together—no pins, no buttons, no strings attached. The nuts are cupped in small pockets of material stuffed through a cord wrapped around the rider’s waist.

This is not only uncomfortable, but could be disastrous if the material becomes unwrapped. If this should happen, the rider could try to correct the situation herself and through it all maintain grace and dignity. The rider cannot wrap herself with the material. It can take an expert with an assistant approximately ten minutes to do a complete a rewrap.

Why would anyone endure pain and aggravation without complaint or financial reward? For many it’s the love of doing it. It’s the excitement. For many riders, it’s the experience of taking part in a part-equestrian, part-Hawaiian cultural event, continuing a Hawaiian tradition, and following in the footsteps of the kūpuna (the elders). Pā‘ū riding is not only knowing how to put on the skirt. Women must have lei-making ability since many will spend up to a week making lei for the event, including one for the horse that is about 58 inches long and 10 inches wide. And being able to ride a horse is the most important aspect of the experience. But, this experience can be expensive. The horse alone could cost $300 to $500 for the parade, and some riders also rent horses for practices.

Despite being wrapped in yards of material, expenses, long stretches without a meal or drink, pā‘ū riders take things in stride. They carry themselves with charm and grace because that’s the way to do it.


UH-Hilo to Offer PhD in Hawaiian

By NWHIT Staff

The University of Hawai`i at Hilo just announced its new PhD program in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization. It is the first PhD in Hawaiian language and the first to be offered at UH-Hilo. It is also the first doctorate in the United States in a Native American language and the first in the world in language revitalization.

The new PhD program will be part of UH-Hilo’s Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani, established in 1998 and named in honor of Ruth Ke`elikōlani Keanolani Kanāhoahoa, a 19th century chiefess known for her strong advocacy of Hawaiian language and culture (UH-Hilo website). The doctoral program is the logical next step for the Pūnana Leo Hawaiian language immersion schools that began in the 1980s. According to Senator Clayton Hee, the chair of the Hawai`i Senate Higher Education Committee, “Saving the language was always the top priority of our kūpuna…It began with the babies in Pūnana Leo [and] we have now reached the highest possible credential within the university system. It has been an amazing journey.”

According to Dr. Kalena Silva, director of Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikolani, “Linguists are predicting that some 2,500 indigenous languages could go extinct in this century, but we are not going to let Hawaiian be one of them.”

On the website for Ka Haka `Ula O Ke`elikōlani is `O ka `ōlelo ke ka`ā o ka mauli: Language is the fiber that binds us to our culture and identity.

For more information, contact UH-Hilo at (808) 974-7342 or www.uhh.hawaii.edu/academics/hawn/


Hawai`i-Born Punahou HS Grad May Run for
President of the
United States

Even though the U.S. Presidential elections won’t take place until 2008, excitement has been building around the possible candidacy of Illinois Senator Barack Obama (D).

Obama was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961 and graduated from Punahou High School in 1979.

He does not appear to have a strong connection to the Islands but when Hawaiian sovereignty (the Akaka Bill) came up in the Senate, Obama spoke in support of it.

Senator Obama is among those in the Senate (including Senator Daniel Akaka -D-Hawai`i) who has actively opposed the war in Iraq, and is gaining visibility as a rapidly rising star for the Democratic nomination.


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