Build new leaders through inclusion and support

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A new generation of Hawaiian leaders are rising to the challenges facing our islands and our planet. E Hoʻokanaka features these important new voices.

Lanakila Mangauil was born and raised in Honokaʻa, Hawaiʻi. He is an alakaʻi and kiaʻi (protector) of Maunakea. He graduated from Kanu o Ka ʻĀina charter school. For more than a decade, he has taught Hawaiian studies at public schools and colleges, and for community and international groups. He is the founder of the Hawaiian Cultural Center of Hāmākua and serves as the Executive Director where he continues to share ʻike Hawaiʻi.

Building leaders through inclusion

“I never really had too many kumu who were like, “if you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.” That is a turn-off that has cut out people. We have done that for so long that we have alienated so many of our own people. So, in translating that into how I teach, and how I’ve been guided by many of my kumu to teach, and also what we see happening on the mountain right now with the ʻaha and the ceremonies, there is a massive focus on inclusion.

“On the mauna, we’re creating particular heke, containers, that allow more people to step in freely, to be able to step into ceremonies, to hula, to chant without being expected to jump to the highest levels. This allows the opportunity to make mistakes, and gives the opportunity to grow; to just feel and experience. And that’s where I think we’re seeing such a massive movement and the rise of a collective consciousness with so many kānaka now – because we are not being judgmental off the top. That’s a problem with kānaka all over; we are very judgmental. It’s one thing to make a judgment and another to make a judgment then offer support. But just to sit there and namunamu…that has been the biggest thing that’s held back our people.

“We can point fingers at our occupiers all we want. But if we’re going to ridicule each other, we are not helping. I really aloha and mahalo my kumu for instilling this lesson in me, and many of my kumu are on that ala. And we’ve helped to set this protocol of the ʻaha because we’re looking at that stage right now of what’s needed to go forward as a people, and there needs to be more inclusion.”

Influential kumu, a mix of stern light heartedness

“I’ve had so many different kumu. Uncle Kia Fronda was one of my first kumu down in Waipiʻo. He had the camp way in the back by ka ʻili o Puʻueo. He had this sternness about him, but he also kept you light hearted. He was really super strict, but we laughed a lot. And he had this stink eye you could smell from a mile away. I catch myself as a teacher using some of those mannerisms. I find that also in my hula tradition. I come from Waikāunu traditions that come out of Unukupukupu that is rooted in Hālau O Kekuhi, which is where Uncle Kia also learned a lot. It’s that same dynamic of being very staunch and dedicated to the work, but not becoming such a stick in the mud that everything becomes so dauntingly difficult. When I teach and when I share, I like to laugh, so I make a lot of jokes because I’m thinking back to how uncle was. It just keeps us real, so it isn’t this big theoretic perspective of things; it’s really grounded in the real and raw.”

Lessons in leadership

“You have to be able to trust that all of those who come can be of assistance. We can plan, but you also have to be able to trust the path that unwinds. So that’s why I always say we set an intention and a path, but we have to be able to be loose. You got to go with the flow and make room for more people to rise.

“And really; to be a leader means you have to drop ego. The ultimate goal is just to see more people rise into being good self-leaders. I’ve learned that in time you can try and be in charge and try to manage everything, but then you go right into micromanagement; and you’re going to burn yourself out if you try to take on everything.

“You truly need to paepae and just support everybody. We can all move forward toward the same goal, but we are all going to have different perspectives on how to get there. So we just try and mālama each other along the way.”