A Renaissance Wahine and Advocate for Traditional Birthing Practices

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Cami Kameaaloha Kanoa-Wong
July 15, 1982 – Sept. 22, 2021

Photo: Cami Kameaaloha Kanoa-Wong
Cami Kameaaloha Kanoa-Wong

With the recognition of Makahiki and Lā Kūʻokoʻa upon us, I wanted to take time to acknowledge an inspirational kanaka who held space within the lāhui in many parts of our community by upholding important cultural traditions. For someone our ʻohana considers a tita, ʻanakē, teacher, and friend – eia kekahi haliʻa aloha no Kameaaloha.

Cami Kameaaloha Kanoa-Wong transitioned from the physical realm during the 2021 fall equinox, known as Piko o Wākea.

Though friends and ʻohana mourn her passing, I’d like to, along with others in our communities, recognize her in the light she’s shown. Cami helped me to understand and have deeper regard for kānaka like her – wearing many hats, always carrying the knowledge of kūpuna, juggling many kuleana, raising keiki, and through it all, remaining in aloha.

As modern Kanaka Aloha ʻĀina, it’s almost necessary, in one way or another, to live like this. She was a “Renaissance Wahine,” shared her makuahine, Aunty Kim Kuʻulei Birnie.

Cami’s range of activism, grounded in aloha, was vast for an ʻōpio. She reached into Native Hawaiian health and advocacy for traditional wahine birthing rights and practices, and testified at the legislature many times to bring awareness and life to the ongoing traditions that are involved in the caring for and raising of our keiki.

She was a kumu, makua, and active supporter of Pūnana Leo, Kaiapuni, Hawaiian-Focused Charter Schools, Kamehameha Schools, and other educational programs with ʻŌiwi-driven missions and visions.

Raised as she was, she avidly and vocally supported the ways of ceremony with ʻike kūpuna, along with her own ʻohana, and many other well-respected practitioners like the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana, Nā Lau a Hina, and Nā Pualei o Likolehua – our kaiāulu was witness to her soul in motion as an ongoing learner and doer of many things.

I’ve often heard Cami being compared to Haumea, the wonderful wahine and creator, the one who births in many forms and throughout the generations.

Cami birthed four beautiful children at home and serves as an inspiration to the process in which we hāpai and hānau. She and her kāne, Lāiana, are esteemed by many as a couple full of ea and fueled by aloha ʻāina ʻoiaʻiʻo. Together they’ve continued to share and educate the lāhui through normalizing and building upon our ʻike Hawai’i by notably focusing on the history and stories of our Hae Hawaiʻi, Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, Lā Kūʻokoʻa, traditions in Makahiki, ʻawa ceremony, and more – all perpetuating and breathing more into our ea over and over for generations to come.

Photo: Ka ‘Ohana Kanoa-Wong
Ka ‘Ohana Kanoa-Wong. – Photos: Courtesy

The ʻōlelo noʻeau “awaiaulu ke aloha” (love made fast by tying together) comes to mind as I think about Cami and Lāiana. An amazing fusion of the energies raised in the malu of Kahoʻolawe and ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi brought to fruition in the form of Kānaka Maoli who journey among us.

Their aloha for one another and this lāhui is held in such high regard. Lāiana shares, “I feel so grateful for our time together. It feels like I’ve fallen in love with a kinolau of Haumea. Cami lived a beautiful life of aloha ʻāina, ʻohana and lāhui. I know she will be an amazing ancestor and an inspiration to our lāhui.”

Ua ʻike au iā Kameaaloha
i ka mea aloha
a ka mea aloha
no ka mea aloha
mau nō ke aloha
o Kameaaloha nō ia.

On behalf of myself, my ʻohana and staff, mahalo nui to the ʻohana Kanoa-Wong for dreaming, birthing, raising, and sharing a beautiful example of wahine mana, makuahine kupaianaha, and kanaka aloha ʻāina with this generation. Cami will be missed tremendously.

#kameaaloha

Mālama pono lāhui.