Ho‘okupu — Bring a Gift of Respect

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Ho‘okupu — Bring a Gift of Respect

By Virginia Beck

‘I Hele i kauhale, pa’a nu’olo i ka lima. When you go to someone’s house, take a gift.’ — ‘Olelo No‘eau, by Mary Kawena Pukui

‘I Hele i kauhale, pa’a nu’olo i ka lima.
When you go to someone’s house, take a gift.’
— ‘Olelo No‘eau, by Mary Kawena Pukui

Hawaiians are some of the most generous people on Earth. Alone in small numbers on this tiny group of remote islands; they nurtured the Earth and each other, so that the people, the ‘aina and the culture could prosper. The deeply felt values and traditions of this unique culture are carefully preserved in the amazing book ‘Olelo No‘eau, brought to us through the dedication of Mary Kawena Pukui.

Great insight can be obtained from reading even one of the many included in this treasury of Hawaiian proverbs, curated with care and diligence. Food for family discussion will enrich a dinner or a vacation. Presented as a gift in graceful, poetic translations, the deep meanings of Hawaiian sayings, the kaona, or hidden meanings, reveal new understanding for the present day people of all cultures.

Good reminders for all of us to be more thoughtful, more considerate, more kind.

unnamed-4Remnants of an ancient oral tradition, proverbs are a way to transmit culture through time for future generations. This collection of wisdom contains the mana‘o, the deeper thoughts of past generations, for reflection by all. The wisdom and skill of translation make this collection a work of art, priceless for any family library.

Recently, a former curator for the University of Hawai‘i said she couldn’t keep the book on the shelves because copies kept walking away. Don’t steal from the libraries! Borrow or buy one for your family and friends, a gift for lifetimes. It might even be a collector’s dream for your grandchildren. But not every gift needs to cost money; your thoughtfulness is what touches hearts. Your time, your company, your invitations; all are welcomed.

The holidays give us many occasions to share our gifts, whether hand-crafted, purchased or simply found in your garden. Living on a Pacific island, things don’t last forever, and before refrigeration, there were few ways to store food, besides fishponds. The tropical environment causes all our avocados, starfruit and oranges to ripen at once, and we hasten to give them away before they spoil.

Virginia Beck

Virginia Beck

In the past, fishing was a group project, with many hands working the nets, and fish were shared by all. The lo‘i, or taro ponds, needed many hands to plant and produce poi. It only lasted a few days, so better share some now. Your gift is valued for your thoughtfulness, your consideration, your time.

For newcomers to our islands, the generosity can be overwhelming, as Mainland folks live in much larger communities, without the tightly knit web of relationships that exist on Kaua‘i. Gifts are common and everyone gives and shares. When visiting, don’t go empty handed. Bring something, flowers, even a few pieces of fruit. You are giving so much more than the object. The gift is symbolic, but the relationship is real.

We don’t always want or need stuff. Let’s spend more time and less money on each other! And remember to buy local!

  • Virginia Beck, NP and Certified Trager® Practitioner, offers Wellness Consultation, Trager Psychophysical Integration and teaches Malama Birth Training classes. She can be reached at 635-5618.
By | 2016-11-10T05:40:51+00:00 December 22nd, 2015|0 Comments

About the Author:

Léo Azambuja, editor of For Kaua‘i, has won multiple journalism awards in the state of Hawai‘i, including investigative and enterprise reporting, spot news and feature writing, photojournalism and online reporting.

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