A Time to Reflect


No ʻono ʻo (nvt. Thought, reflection, thinking, meditation; to think, reflect, meditate, concentrate; to consider.)

Photo: Sylvia Hussey

Aloha mai kākou,

The holiday season is upon us, and as the year marches steadfastly towards its inevitable conclusion, like many people I am prompted to reflect on the past year’s triumphs and challenges.

At this time last year, we were hopeful that the development of a vaccine would hasten the end of the pandemic and that by the summer of 2021 things would start to feel more normal.

And for a brief moment in early summer things did begin to feel more normal – until the delta variant crashed upon our shores like a tsunami. In that deadly surge Native Hawaiians were hit particularly hard by this unpredictable and indiscriminate illness.

Our staff at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs have been teleworking now for about 20 months while the COVID-19 infection rate has intensified then subsided over and again like the ebb and flow of the tide. So during 2021, as we did during 2020, in the midst of seemingly endless uncertainty, the staff adapted to the world’s “new normal” finding different ways to continue serving our lāhui, from using digital technology for meetings, webinars, trainings and workshops, to providing resources for communities to be sustained and strengthened as part of our new strategic plan rollout.

It was impossible to fully prepare for the challenges of working within a completely new paradigm, but we moved forward with clarity of vision and with our core foundations of ʻohana, moʻomeheu and ʻāina top of mind.

We are the descendants of resilient survivors. So when the world feels chaotic and we face uncertainty it makes sense for us to rely upon our ʻike kūpuna. We prioritize ʻohana and hold tight to our cultural practices. And we pule.

For me, prayer is a constant practice. It helps me to center my mind when faced with things I cannot control. I focus on ʻekolu mea nui – faith, hope and love – they are basic foundational values – like ʻohana, moʻomeheu and ʻāina.

2021 has been a year of difficult decisions. But when we hold tight to our basics, we are safer, more discerning, and we make better choices for ourselves, our ʻohana and our lāhui.

Continuing this theme of reflection, we are now in the season of Makahiki. It is the time of year when our kūpuna set aside normal routines. It is a time of rest, reflection and most importantly, peace.

So it is fitting that this issue of Ka Wai Ola focuses on Makahiki, from its origins and how it is celebrated today, to the revival of Makahiki as an extension of the Hawaiian Renaissance of the 1970s, to a historical view of the season from an 1867 essay penned by noted Hawaiian historian Samuel Kamakau.

As we bid farewell to 2021 and look ahead to 2022, my pule is that our lāhui – our ʻohana, our moʻomeheu and our ʻāina – will be abundantly blessed.

Aloha Kalikimaka. Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou. Lonoikamakahiki!

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