A Haku Lei of Stories from our Lāhui


Haku (2. vt. To compose, invent, put in order, arrange; to braid, as a lei, or plait, as feathers.)

Photo: Sylvia Hussey

Aloha mai kākou,

I admire those who are able to weave exquisite lei in the haku and wili styles, fashioned with flowers, ferns or leaves they gather from their gardens or their communities.

Unfortunately, I am not a lei-maker. My lei-making experience is limited to childhood efforts to kui yellow plumeria lei for our school May Day celebrations with flowers gathered from the nearby graveyard.

I nevertheless appreciate the lei-making process, and as I contemplated my column for this month, I landed on “haku” as a metaphor for what we do to publish Ka Wai Ola.

Our purpose is to inform, highlight and uplift our lāhui. We plan for each issue and sometimes we decide on a theme and then gather the stories where we know they grow – as if from gardens. Some months there is no set theme because the stories in all their diversity of manaʻo are offered to us from our community, like a random assortment of gorgeous greenery gathered from the forest.

Our kuleana is to haku these stories into a publication that provides useful information, highlights the achievements of our ʻŌiwi across the spectrum and, in the process, uplifts, encourages, and inspires.

We have been very intentional that one purpose of Ka Wai Ola is to provide a space for different voices from our lāhui. So we have invited ʻŌiwi leaders from a cross-section of organizations to write monthly columns for Ka Wai Ola that align with OHA’s foundations of ʻohana, moʻomeheu and ʻāina, and our strategic directions.

Our newest columnists are from Papa Ola Lōkahi, the Native Hawaiian Education Council, and the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association. They join columnists from DHHL, the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations, the Native Hawaiian Chambers of Commerce, and Liliʻuokalani Trust. We have independent columnists writing on health and nutrition, iwi kūpuna, and culture and history, and we also feature ʻōpio voices with two youth columns.

In this issue of Ka Wai Ola, we present a haku lei of stories from our lāhui.

Our cover story highlights a milestone reached by ʻāina stewards in Kāneʻohe to mitigate the damage that construction of the H-3 freeway caused to traditional agricultural lands in Luluku. This issue also includes several stories from Maui, an update from Miloliʻi, news about federal policies that benefit Hawaiians, OHA’s acquisition of property in Honolulu, a new database of Hawaiian-owned businesses, and more.

And because November 28 is Lā Kūʻokoʻa, Hawaiian Independence Day, we include the story of Timoteo Haʻalilio – the man who successfully presented the case for Hawaiian sovereignty to the world.

One final thought to haku into this column is the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. While the American origins of this holiday are not cause for celebration by native peoples, the people of the land have always cultivated a spirit of thankfulness as part of our daily lives and routines.

So on Thanksgiving Day, remember that gratitude for the gifts of our ʻohana, moʻomeheu, and ʻāina was a lifestyle – an attitude of the heart, mind, and spirit – for our kūpuna.

E hoʻopōmaikaʻi iā kākou.

Sylvia M. Hussey, Ed.D.
Ka Pouhana/Chief Executive Officer