Hawaiian Words Reflect Our Values (Part 3)

These entries to our Planning Department Blog are offered by Joaquin Gamiao, our Administrative Assistant known for his cheerful wit and efficient supervision. Here he shares his passion for things Hawaiian from his up-bringing here on the Big Island. [Be sure to visit Part 1 and Part 2]

joaquin gamiao administrative assistantIn my continuing attempt to share our cultural values, here is a compilation of the latest few months of Hawaiian words that remind us of these values that we all should embody. Please add, comment, or share if you like.

Word for December, 2011
Aloha (ah-low-ha):  This often misunderstood and misused word is my choice for the final Olelo of 2011.  Aloha is the overarching value for Hawaiians.

Aunty Pilahi Paki is remembered by many as the greatest proponent of “aloha.”  She was a kumu (teacher) to many who now lead our community.   Aloha, to Aunty Pilahi was the essence of all that there is.  There are a number of definitions but some say it is the “alo” (face to face, in the presence of) and the “ha”, (the breath of life, or the divine spirit); “In presence of the divine spirit.”

Aloha is not just a greeting, it is a way of life.  It connects us to each other and everything that exists.” ~ Pono Shim

Aloha holds the traits of character that express the charm, warmth, and sincerity of Hawaii’s people.  It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians.  Aloha is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation, it means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return.  It is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence.

Aloha means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.” ~Queen Lili‘uokalani

During this sacred Holiday Season, I wish you all a Mele Kalikimaka Meka Hau’oli Makahiki Hou (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year).  May the New Year keep you ‘in the presence of the divine spirit.’  Aloha!

Word for January, 2012
Ho‘o mao popo (ho-oh-mah-oh-po-po):  To understand, make plain or clear, tell clearly, cause to understand, pay attention in order to understand; to certify, inform, remember, recollect, recall, think about, remind, believe in, realize, ascertain, take care of, recognize, discover.

The pre-missionary Hawaiians did not have a written language.  The history of Hawai‘i and her people, their art forms, music, and crafts were perpetuated through oral presentation.  To insure that the correct information was taught to the next generation, na kumu (teachers) or na kupuna (elders) painstakingly taught their haumana (students) the ways of the ancients.  By carefully and repetitiously working to make them understand, it would insure that the lesson would be perpetuated into future generations.

As we take on a new year, ho‘o mao popo works its value in several ways within our lives.  Disputes usually happen because of a failure to make others understand.  Endeavoring to listen, learn and understand each other at work and at home can keep the peace and expand our appreciation for each other.  I remember my kukuwahine telling us, “nānā kou maka a pa‘a kou waha” (open your eyes and close your mouth) to learn.

In the public arena, the Planning Department staff should work with the kupuna or long time residents of a land area (ahu pua‘a) to ho‘o mao popo.  By understanding the land and its cultural history, I believe our planning efforts will be met with less resistance.  This same value is the basics for providing excellent service to our external and internal customers.

Seek, listen, understand, tell clearly and cause others to understand – ho‘o mao popo, will help to make a Happy and Peaceful 2012!  Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou!

Word for February, 2012
Ho‘o ponopono (hoh-oh-poh-noh-poh-noh):  Mental cleansing; family conferences in which relationships were set right (ho‘o ponopono) through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness.  Hoo – to make, to do, to cause, to bring about; Pono – balance, goodness, correctness, perfect order, righteousness.

In Nana I Ke Kumu (Pukui, Haertig, Lee), Hoo ponopono is referred to as an ancient Hawaiian practice common in Polynesian culture which believed that imbalances, like errors, hurts, guilt or anger, can cause physical symptoms.  Keeping the imbalance secret (holding it in) can give power to the physical symptoms.  The symptoms can affect a person directly and/or could present it in a family member or close associate.  Hoo ponopono was the “cure” for these imbalances.

Often, these conflicts are based on misinformation that is perpetuated by hau wala‘au or gossip.  Ho‘o ponopono was the venue used to address or correct this misinformation, calmly discussing perceptions or misperception, to bring balance back into the family/group/society.  In a Hawaiian society, each person is responsible for a specific job in support of the success of the society. If there is a conflict between members of the society, the entire society would be put at risk.  It is understood that all things are connected and that an imbalance in one causes imbalance in all.  In order to ensure the success of the society, ceremonies and rituals were put in place to maintain the balance necessary to survive…Ho‘o ponopono!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *