By Virginia Beck
Kaua‘i is home to many unique communities; one of which is the native Hawaiian people. Many of us are unaware of how special and rare this culture and community is.
Visitors come for the relaxation, weather, the beaches, spectacular scenery and fragrant flowers. Visitors come for the luxury of being on Kaua‘i, one of the jewels of the planet.
It is our home. Families work very hard to live here and raise their children with a deep sense of respect for aloha. So as you visit us, you will want to learn about our foundational cultural values. And Aloha Week is a wonderful opportunity to do just that.
In the 1950s, Hawai‘i was challenged with the post-war economy. Recovering from WWII, and the major industries were tourism, pineapple and the military. Tourism focused on radio broadcasts of Hawaiian music, tours of the Dole Plantation, flower leis, luaus, and slack key. Kodak film had a group of Hawaiian Hula artists available for photos down by Kapiolani Park, but so many of the skirts were made of colored cellophane, not traditional ti leaves.
The visitor industry focused the visitor on hula, music, flowers, pineapple tours and commercial luaus. The aloha spirit was something to market, not something to respect. The respect for the Hawaiian Culture did not show up until the 1970s.
Consumers are trained to want what is advertised, and Hawai‘i was a gold mine for the travel industry.
Visitors were not the sophisticated world travelers of today. The soldiers and sailors who had passed through Hawai‘i on their way to the war in the Pacific and Asia returned. They came for the sweet Hawaiian music and the aloha. They brought their families. Few of them came as far at Kaua‘i.
Air travel was luxurious, rare and expensive. Ocean liners were the more common way to arrive.
When we first arrived in Hawai’i in 1957, courtesy of the US Army, we hung over the railings of the S.S. President Polk enchanted by the magical scene. Amazed by the fragrance floating over the water from hundreds of flower lei. It was the rich sweetness of plumeria blossoms that enveloped every passenger and tourist who arrived. Orchids were not so common.
The Royal Hawaiian Band and talented dancers greeted each and every one of us. The beautiful women came on board with arms draped in curtains of flowers. Each of us was embraced and welcomed with such fragrance. It was like heaven. Out of this world kindness and graciousness. We knew we were in another world. It is. And we share it with you.
The real life Moana and her relatives are all around you. They represent a culture more than a thousand years old on island, and thousands more before. Many Hawaiians on Kaua‘i can chant their genealogy back nearly to the beginning. Can you recite your family’s names and history from memory? Here, family is everything.
Each year, we have an Aloha Festival. This September, we celebrate the love for Hawai‘i’s children and the future with this theme, “He Lei Aloha Ke Keiki — Children Are Our Garland of Love.” You can learn more about this at alohafestivals.com, our statewide site.
The aloha spirit is only words, unless you feel it from the bottom of your heart. The ceremonial embrace of Hawaiians is the sharing of breath, the breath of life. It is not superficial, it is deeply felt, and shows respect for each other. It is their gift to the world. Don’t use the words unless you mean them. Aloha makes us great!
- 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.