A New Year’s Pule


Hou (vs. New, fresh, recent.)

Photo: Sylvia Hussey

Aloha mai kākou,

Growing up, I loved New Year’s Eve – I thought it was the best thing ever because New Year’s Eve was always spent at my grandfather’s house.

My cousins and I would get firecrackers every Christmas instead of socks or underwear, which thrilled us. On Hawaiʻi Island at that time there were no rules about popping firecrackers, so this was a big deal and something all us kids looked forward to with anticipation.

The week between the two holidays was a time of preparation for the annual pāʻina at my grandfather’s house – we’d make poi and kalua the pig. My grandfather was pure Hawaiian and he would always invite my Japanese side of the family and they, and all the families in our Niuliʻi community in Kohala, would come together to celebrate.

At midnight, my grandfather would gather everyone together, and have us put aside our noisy festivities for a few moments of quiet. And in that silence, as we transitioned together from the old to the new, my grandfather would pule. He offered a simple, heartfelt prayer, giving thanks for the blessings of the previous year, and asking for Ke Akua’s blessing in the new. This ʻohana tradition of New Year’s pule that my grandfather established all those years ago has continued in my family.

This practice of pule is not only for ʻohana, but for all areas of our lives, including our work. Here at OHA we take this time to mahalo Ke Akua for all we have been able to accomplish despite the daunting challenges of 2020, as well as to pule for OHA’s new leadership, new strategic plan, and the new ways that we will move forward together as an organization in 2021.

In Ka Wai Ola’s first issue of 2021, we focus on new leadership, new vision and new purpose at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Our new chair of the Board of Trustees, Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey, shares her vision and manaʻo for the work ahead, OHA’s new legislative package for the 2021 Legislative Session is presented, and our two new trustees are introduced.

And, to share the accomplishments of the previous fiscal year, OHA’s 2020 Annual Report is included as a special insert.

As difficult as 2020 was, it brought out the best in so many of our people. There were endless examples of aloha, mālama, and lokomaikaʻi (generosity) as ʻŌiwi gave their time, talent and resources to kākoʻo those who needed kōkua. I am so proud of our people and so optimistic about our future as a lāhui.

I am reminded of my grandfather’s New Year’s pule and the lesson to our ʻohana that even in times of hardship, we can find things for which to be grateful, and remain hopeful for good things in the time to come.

As we reflect on 2020, while planning for 2021 and beyond, Kānaka Maoli must continue to laulima and remain focused on our aloha for our lāhui and a vision of a Hawaiʻi where our ʻohana, our ʻāina, and our moʻomeheu are healthy, vibrant and thriving.

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