A Reminder of What “Aloha” Looks Like


NaHHA would like to share a feature from one of our Lamakū Hoʻokipa, our Beacons of Hospitality who are making a positive impact through the value of mālama and as a contributing member of the Native Hawaiian community.

By Kaleiopuaonālani ʻUwēkoʻolani

ʻO ka pono ke hana ʻia
a iho mai nā lani.
Continue to do good
until the heavens come down to you.
– ʻŌlelo Noʻeau #2437

Every time I look at my wrist, there she is – my mother. An inscription written on a solid piece of gold. A piece of gold that serves as my daily reminder to continue to do good until the heavens come down.

My mother, so lovingly called “Aunty Susie,” wasn’t from my one hānau (birth place). She didn’t have koko Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian blood). Nor did she have any idea that she would lead people to understand what aloha meant.

Originally from Victoria, B.C., this blonde-haired, green-eyed woman found herself married to a kanaka from Puʻunēnē. By the time we lost her 62 years later, she had embraced the culture, the traditions, and the language so much so that her aloha was never second-guessed. She had taken the word, the idea, the actions of aloha and had given people one of the greatest gifts….aloha! She was loved by my father, his ʻohana, the community, and many others that were able to see, feel, and reciprocate her aloha.

Through the eyes of strangers, she showed reverent love, offered never ending kindness, supported those who wouldn’t ask for help, and gave from the heart without hesitation. She made lei for an entire pāʻū unit only wanting to see the pooper scooper win, baked cookies for the holidays while going through chemotherapy treatment, sewed costumes for an entire hālau hula after a 36-hour shift at the hospital, and never remembered to say no because all she knew was yes!

A-L-O-H-A: Akahai. May we be gentle to each other with our actions. Lōkahi. May we bring peace towards one another. ʻOluʻolu. May we be gracious in the thoughts we carry. Haʻahaʻa. May we be humble no matter where we end up. Ahonui. May we have patience with each other and most importantly yourself.

Though she has been gone four years now, it’s like she is still here. Upon my wrist, I wear her bracelet. Around my wrist, I think of her every time I put on a kūpeʻe. And within my wrist, with the pulse of every beat of my heart is the aloha she instilled within me.

In my role today as a lamakū hoʻokipa at Grand Wailea Resort, I share that aloha knowing that it is Hawaiʻi’s kilohana – the highest expression of who we are and the generations who shaped us. I share it knowing that it inspires.

To all the “Aunty Susies” out there who remind us of what aloha looks and feels like: Mahalo!

Kalei ʻUwēkoʻolani is the cultural programming manager and leadership educator at Grand Wailea Resort. She leads a team that focuses on perpetuating cultural traditions, culinary collaborations, and a commitment to support both artists and artisans within our lāhui. Kalei is a single parent who has dedicated her time instilling and engaging in the perpetuation of the Hawaiian language, culture, and traditions in her daughter. For more information, contact kalei.uwekoolani@waldorfastoria.com.