Sunday, March 29, 2015



Walking in the footsteps of royalty, dozens of residents and visitors alike soaked up Hawaii's culture, history and traditions Saturday at Puukohola Heiau in Kawaihae.

The sights and sounds of water and sand swishing inside of gourds soon to become ipu, machetes whacking coconuts open for samples, Hawaiian music and families enjoying themselves could be seen and heard around Pelekane court all in celebration of the Hawaiian Islands' unification.

Making an ipu in the traditional manner is exactly why 4-year-old Kahealani Lum-Lung, of Waikoloa, came to the Hookuikahi Establishment Day Hawaiian Cultural Festival. Now in her second year of hula, she needed the musical instrument, and, her mother, Pepper Lum-Lung wanted her to make it herself rather than purchase it from a store.

"If she makes it herself, she will get to experience her culture and will appreciate the traditional ipu," said Pepper Lum-Lung, who along with her daughter attended the event with husband, Danny, son, Seiji, 6, and daughter, Makana, 18 months. "We want them all to learn and actually experience their Hawaiian heritage and culture."

The free two-day festival was well under way Saturday as residents and visitors took part in various activities, including food tasting, coconut leaf and lauhala weaving, canoe rides and Hawaiian games, at Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site.

Now in its 39th year, the event brings kamaaina (residents) and malahini (visitors) together to commemorate the founding of the Hawaiian Kingdom some 201 years ago. The festival continues today at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the park located off Kawaihae Road.

The stone heiau that sits above the festival is said to have been constructed between 1790 and 1791 by King Kamehameha I after Kapoukahi, a kahuna from Kauai, prophesied that war between Kamehameha I and several relatives over the control of Hawaii would end if Kamehameha I constructed a heiau dedicated to the war god Ku.

In 1791, Kamehameha's cousin, Keoua Kuahuula, who was in contention with Kamehameha I for control of the islands, was killed at the heiau -- an event that, according to prophecy, led to Kamehameha I's conquest and consolidation of the Hawaiian islands. By 1810, Kamehameha ruled over all of the major Hawaiian Islands.

The festival opened just about sunrise with dancers from various hula halau from around the state performing a royal court ceremony at the heiau before dozens headed down to Pelekane, the royal courtyard located makai of the heiau, to take part in cultural demonstrations and workshops.

For Leon and Colleen Hamilton, who recently moved from upstate New York to Waikoloa, the festival was very special and exceeded their expectations. Colleen, who made herself a haku lei (head lei) and was getting started on a Hawaiian quilt depicting the Angels Trumpet flower, said it was the best festival she's ever attended.

"It's a great cultural festival, and there's a lot of information and things to learn because it's being taught by Hawaiians, which really makes you part of (the event)," she said. "This is the nicest festival I've ever gone to."

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Celebrating the treacherous murder of the man's own cousin who approached peacefully. Do they tell the kids the part about the tens of thousands of Hawaiians forced to leave their homes and gardens to build the heiau upon which Keoua was eventually sacrificed? just wondering what version of that story they get.
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