“Wanna be Hawaiian”

I have a favorite picture on the living room wall of our house. It’s actually a photocopy from a magazine of a rare portrait done by Herb Kane in which he depicts Kamehameha on his death bed holding both hands out to his beloved and aged haole friend John Young. In this portrait John Young is dressed in western style clothes, however he is sitting in a uniquely Hawaiian style displaying humility and reverence to his king and dear friend.  The portrait gives evidence of two warriors who have faced death and life together. The deep sense of aloha that is portrayed between these two men is impossible to ignore.

While the history of Hawaii is full of stories of the treachery of American and European Business men and of the manipulation and steeling of lands from the descendants of missionary families, history fails to recognize the many haoles and other foreigners who became a part of Hawaii, who spoke the language, and lived the culture. Some were maka‘āinana and some ‘ali‘i. This is what made Hawaiian culture so unique. The culture of this ‘āina was not exclusive.  It’s arms were open wide to the stranger. Everyone was taken care of.

Sadly we are all victims from the abuses of such hospitality. We now live in a much more complicated world in which we are forced to find a balance between the ways of the west and that of the true nature of Hawaii. While the modern world tells us to buy, sell and make good now, traditional Hawaiian culture teaches us to love God, be stewards of our ‘āina and to be generous in all things. It is a culture where integrity of character is worth far more than one’s financial status. Ultimately, the Hawaiian culture is about pono. Do I want to be part of a culture that’s values are rooted in pono? Absolutely, and by doing so I believe that it allows me to show gratitude and respect to our host culture and hopefully encourages others to help reverse the damaging cycle that has cursed us for the last two centuries.

In regard to pono and traditional values, it is my perception that the perilous road that the Ranch’s “Community Master Plan” has been heading down is because of its failure to place these values at the forefront of its mission.  In 2004 Kumu John Ka‘imikaua stated that if the Master Plan was not pono, it would fail and dissolve. Kumu John also warned about the destructiveness of hidden agendas within the Plan.

Although elusive, it appears as though the prize of obtaining land has become more important than the integrity of the Molokai EC or the new Molokai Land Trust. Consequently, we have seen a manipulation of power and a refusal to recognize the majority voice of the community. Much of this has been through the insistence and pressure from outsiders who demonstrate little regard for our culture or island. The Ranch and the Molokai EC have assumed to be the conscience of our island without the island’s consent and although the Ranch has publicized its Master Plan, requests by the public to see documents and agreements that present the real purpose and intent of the Molokai Land Trust have been denied.

Although not Hawaiian by blood, I have a sincere love for this island and its people. I have come to respect the Hawaiian values of the first inhabitants of these islands and believe that if we will really adhere to these principals, everyone will benefit.

‘O ka manawa keia e ho’i mai ai i ka pono / It is time to return to the pono.


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