Talk Story on Leadership in Old Hawaii

Katherine Smith tells history as a story.

By Marie Nowell

Several community members gathered at the Molokai Public Library last Wednesday to hear a talk story by Katherine Kama’ema’e Smith, author of “The Love Remains.”

The author wrote her first novel on leadership in old Hawaii. It is a book of history with a twist, as Smith fictionalizes the characters in terms of appearance and dialogue.

“The Love Remains” is about twenty-year-old Ali'i Kale Davis, torn between her Hawaiian and Caucasian roots, who lacks the confidence of her abilities and leadership. With determination and help from her five husbands, Davis leads her people through the transformation of Hawai‘i from Kamehameha's kingdom into the industrial age.

In the book, Smith emphasizes place and language as the two most important things to the future of Hawaii. Place deals with the communication through the land and people, becoming one. Language, passed down orally through generations, makes up the belief system and history of a culture.

There is a “need for more cultural practices to end in action,” says Smith. Goals can be met by looking back into history while “living and learning ancient Hawaiian leadership principals.”

Projects should follow these principals, with leadership and direction from a single manager. A Hawaiian leader could be a haku, kaulana, kumu, kilo, kahuna, or ali’i. The manager holds responsibility of building the team and distributing the work among the skilled team members. Everyone must work together towards the initial goal, according to Smith.

The author said the book was a 5-year process of gathering research, but once she began writing she was able to complete the novel within 6 months. A hired editor was working with her chapter-by-chapter, teaching her how to write along the way.

Smith is currently obtaining research for her next book, which takes place in Honua’ula (Makena). Archeologists Lucienne De Naie and Theresa Donham are asking Smith to present their current research efforts, Project Ka’eo, as a story. Project Ka’eo is collaborative information of Makena’s historical and cultural significance. She will take on her goal of creating another novel that “brings history to the casual reader.”

Copies of “The Love Remains” can be found at Molokai Public Library or can be purchased online.

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