Hawaiian influence must be included

We keep hearing these days about the "Hawai'i sense of place."

Honolulu Advertiser
Friday, February 1,2002

By Kahu Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr.
Maui-based cultural practitioner

The tourists who come here see visions of "paradise" with rolling white-sand beaches and natives handing out mai tais and saying "Aloooha." It is only when they check out from the hotel and pay their rent-a-car do they realize how expensive their "paradise" vacation was.

They also realize that the only real things about Hawai'i are the sunsets, the ocean and the mountains. Much of everything else is "made up" for their benefit. Hawaiian culture is loosely used to entice them to Hawai'i, and when they arrive, they are stunned of the fact that many of the Hawaiian people are poorly treated and make up the social ills of Hawai'i and are disenchanted how America has treated them since their independent Queen Lili'uokalani was overthrown. They are shocked to learn that a lot of the hotels they stay in are still today keeping the native people of Hawai'i away from accessing the ocean to catch their ancestral foods from the sea.

If Butch Kerzner of Sun International and Greg Brenneman of the merged Hawaiian and Aloha airlines want to create a distinct Hawai'i flavor and portray how special Hawai'i is, then include the Hawaiians not as tokens but full partners in planning what Hawai'i should be like from a perspective of the people who are the caretakers of the culture.

In planning the future of Hawai'i, one must realize that bigger is not better. We must use Hawai'i's natural elements and the wisdom of the kupuna, which is to protect the natural beauty of Hawai'i, keep certain places pristine (insisting that the waters flow in the streams again, bringing back the endemic fauna and flora) and make sure that historical sites of old are preserved and their stories told.

Portions of the tourist dollars should be used to revitalize the Hawaiian culture in areas of hula, cultural festivals, canoe building, native plants and authentic Hawaiian games. These hotels should contribute to a yearly fund specifically for promoting the Hawaiian culture in Hawai'i.

We are in deep trouble if we don't collectively put our heads together and think Hawaiian and forget about the glitz and glitter. This is Hawai'i, with natural green rainforests, clear skies, white sand and deep-blue waters.

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