Pā Mai ka Makani

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Makani (nvs. Wind, breeze, windy, to blow.)

Photo: Sylvia Hussey

Aloha mai kākou,

“ʻOpeʻope Kohala i ka makani – Kohala is buffeted by the wind.”

Kohala is a district known for being windy and its famous winds – ʻĀpaʻapaʻa, Apapa, Moaʻe and ʻŌlauniu – are recalled in mele, oli and moʻolelo.

So it follows that, as a child growing up in windy Kohala, a favorite pastime for us kids was making (and flying) our own kites. We fashioned the rib of our kites with split bamboo and covered them with newspaper. For the kite tail we would raid the “boroboro” bag filled with rags that my mom kept in the house. Old pillowcases or sheets worked best. We’d cut strips to make our kite tail then fly our kites in the large open lot next to my grandfather’s house.

I loved the feeling of freedom as I ran across the grass and released my kite up into the air. As the wind caught my kite, I would unroll my string to allow my kite to fly as high as possible and watch in delight as it danced in the sky above me.

Of course, if the wind was too strong, or if I did not hold tightly enough to my string, my kite would “buckaloose” (the unofficial technical term) and end up in a guava tree, a coconut tree, or worse of all – in our neighbor’s yard next to their hunting dogs.

There is an ʻōlelo noʻeau about kites and Kohala: “Lele o Kohala me he lupe lā. Kohala soars as a kite.” It is an expression of admiration for the leadership demonstrated by the people of Kohala. Indeed, I’ve long seen kites as a metaphor for good leadership.

As a leader, I give people as much “string” as they need to carry out their kuleana. The string represents their autonomy, and their management of the kite as they release it into the air is indicative of their mastery of the kuleana that they have been entrusted with. I have found that, when allowed to control their own kite string, most people will fly high and soar.

I see other leadership imagery when thinking about the wind itself. In each of our lives we will face metaphoric gale-force winds that can wreck havoc on us personally, professionally, politically or in terms of our prosperity. When we are buffeted by powerful winds it can seem impossible to stay upright or continue moving forward.

That is not to say that wind is inherently bad. It is the wind that carries tiny spores and seeds across seemingly lifeless lava fields; seeds that find purchase in rocky crevices and establish kīpuka that begin as small clusters of ferns clinging to life, and transform over time into verdant native forests.

Which brings me back to our foundations. When we are firmly grounded in our ʻohana, moʻomeheu (culture) and ʻāina, and our roots go deep, we are less likely to be uprooted when strong winds blow.

Pā mai ka makani a kūpaʻa kākou (the wind blows and we remain steadfast).

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