Celebrating Our Kupuna
By Kauinohea Kapuni Manera
On Sept. 30, ALU LIKE, Inc.’s Ke Ola Pono No Na Kupuna program for seniors celebrated its 25th anniversary. It was special to see kupuna of Molokai mingle with each other, reminiscing of days gone by, remembering the ones we have lost and looking ahead as to what the future may bring.
On that one day, we all managed to unite in aloha and acknowledged our community supporters, remembered Aunty Hannah Rodrigues Moritz’ hula “Ke Aloha,” welcomed the Na Puuwai daycare kupuna and witnessed the kihei ceremony of our na lei hulu mamo. Seven of our eldest Molokai kupuna were honored that day: Julia Flores Siu, Katherine “Kitty” Akutagawa, Lydia Noe Cluney, Alexander Bishaw, Violet Rodrigues, Clara Sabas and Elizabeth Kauila Reyes.
As part of the ceremony, I read an excerpt by Aunty Opuulani Albino as she described the term “na lei hulu mamo” in her usual poetic way:
“We mahalo all kupuna who have lived to fulfill a measure of their creation as well as those who fill a full measure of their creation. We honor all kupuna regardless. A hulu kupuna goes beyond the ‘age’ definition of kupuna, as all will be kupuna in their lifetime. Some distinction exist however. Hulu kupuna serve as knowledgeable individuals who have been trained by other kupuna whole life reflected expertise and knowledge not commonly known by the majority. They are carriers of generational knowledge, those who have embraced all the elements of the culture as best as can be expected… especially in preserving, perpetuating and sharing the art forms and mo`olelo of our culture. While we honor all efforts of kupuna, the hulu kupuna reflects the highest degree of knowledge of the culture, therefore much is expected of them. Their service to others in their respective community is selfless looking towards the good and wellbeing of all, not just a few. They are known to their peers and community, guided always and reflecting aloha for Ke Akua, kanaka, `aina and kai. Their talents and skills are evident in service to ‘ohana and community. This is the Hulu Kupuna.”
I added, “We all should aspire to be ka lei hulu mamo. The lei hulu is beautiful to behold, lovely when worn with distinction. It requires special care. It sets itself apart from other leis because of the hard work it takes to create the color and pattern schemes in your head and finally manifest them in your work. The lei hulu lasts a long time when cared for properly. So does the kupuna mana`o and ike when transferred to the next generation – if we ho`olohe, we will be enriched with ike that is 1,000s of years old. That is priceless.”
Mahalo nui to OHA Molokai Trustee Machado and staff for the all the kokua they had given us. Mahalo to all of our kupuna who took the time out to kako`o and malama one another. Mahalo to Kumu Farms for the fresh fruit. And lastly, to the folks at Ka Honua Momona, mahalo so much for helping the kupuna and staff set up for the day. Mahalo ke Akua.