Aloha Mai ē! Dr. Jeffrey Akaka Son of Rev. Abraham Akaka and His Ke ʻOluʻolu Aloha Message


Leina‘ala Ahu Isa, Ph.D., Trustee, At-Large


My column this month features a prominent Native Hawaiian physician, Dr. Jeffrey Lee Akaka’s meaning of ALOHA, whose “Haʻi Manaʻo” is included in this issue of Ka Wai Ola, and whose accolades are too numerous to mention. Here are just a couple:

“I’ve known Jeff for over 20 years, from when he *testified in Congress for better mental health care for First Peoples (Native Americans). He is a man of extraordinary dedication to our organization, profession and patients.” – Frank W. Brown, MD, Chief Quality Officer, Emory University Hospital

*Akaka also testified extensively before the Hawaiʻi State Legislature on this topic

Photo: Jeff Akaka and Senator Akaka
Dr. Jeffrey Akaka (left) with his uncle, the late Sen. Daniel Akaka.

“Jeffrey Akaka represents a rare breed of deeply connected and helpful people. His genuine personal connectedness is just one of many direct influences he has had through political relationships of respect. In fact, Jeffrey’s governmental relations muscle has been instrumental in powering through strong headwinds and influences that would have been destructive to our profession and clinical autonomy. We are grateful for his kind, steady-handed influence. More than two decades of energized, centered, and focused advocacy are displayed on Dr. Akaka’s curriculum vitae.” – Ken Hopper, MD, MBA, President, Tarrant Chapter of Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians

Please (ke ʻoluʻolu) read Dr. Akaka’s compassionate Haʻi Manaʻo in this issue, as it really should be read by all KWO readers.

Dr. Jeffrey Akaka’s response to me after I replied to him:

“Dear Trustee Leinaʻala,

“Mahalo nui for your kind alert. My late father was the Rev. Abraham Akaka, who just after statehood in March 1959, led the elected leaders of Hawaiʻi from the ʻIolani Palace, where he was chaplain of the Territorial Legislature, to the Kawaiahaʻo Church, where he was the eighth pastor, and gave the statehood sermon in which he defined ALOHA as:

“The unconditional regard for your fellow human being. ALOHA seeks to do good to a person with NO conditions attached, out of a sense of kinship. ALOHA loves even when that love is not returned, and such is the Love of God.

“And then he called for Hawaiʻi to be known as the Aloha State. And now more than ever, especially in this time of COVID and its divisiveness, we need to return to this root of how Hawaiʻi, as a state, began.

“ALOHA and mahalo for all you do, Jeffrey Akaka, MD, Native Hawaiian Physician”

Before I leave you during this Thanksgiving Hauʻoli Lā Hoʻomaikaʻi season, I want to share with you what I feel this word, ALOHA truly means to me. I have always considered it more of a feeling than just a particular meaning. Of course, we all know that it can mean many things, but to me it is indescribable. It must be experienced to be understood. On a spiritual level, ALOHA is an acknowledgement of the Divinity which dwells within and without us.

HRS 5-7.5 Aloha Spirit: (a)Aloha Spirit is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others.

ALOHA also means “mutual regard and affection which extends warmth and caring with no obligation in return.” Dr. Akaka speaks of his father’s sermon about ALOHA as unconditional love – and that “such is the Love of God.”

Hauʻoli Lā Hoʻomaikaʻi, a hui hou, Trustee Leinaʻala Ahu Isa