The Many “Taro Shoots” of my Genealogy


Luana Alapa: Trustee Molokaʻi and Lanaʻi

We honored our mothers in May and I was inspired to learn about my makuahine’s genealogy. As I poured over the familial lines, I realized I have an incredible ancestral foundation that led my momma to say, “you belong here in Molokaʻi.”

Hawaiian genealogies were memorized at an early age and were passed down orally through the generations. The highest ranking aliʻi could trace their lineage directly back to the beginning of the universe. In the culture, names are bestowed upon a person to honor inoa kūpuna (ancestral names), inoa hoʻomanaʻo (names to remember an event or to honor a chief), and inoa ʻāina (place names)

Our names connect us to the past, the here and now, and the future.

The word ʻohana comes from the word ʻoha, or corm of the taro plant. My genealogy is no exception with many, many “taro shoots.” It includes the Ron Davis ʻohana who we met at the Molokaʻi bakery. There was instant affection, warmth and a willingness to support momma’s daughter in her role as OHA trustee. He said, “I want to help you, daughter.”

My mother, Kauana Kanahele (Pukahi), is daughter to Clinton Kanahele and Agnes Sanford Kanahele. Isaac Davis, who was a leading and trusted advisor to Kamehameha the Great, along with Captain Alexander Adams who was also a great friend and advisor to Kamehameha, are in my mother’s lineage.

We are ʻohana to the Meyers through Agnes Sanford ( Kanahele) who was a cousin to them. Agnes’ island of choice was Molokaʻi where she spent many of her summers and vacations. Agnes and Clinton Kanahele’s marriage union bore seven children, including my mother. Tutu Agnes was so drawn to Molokaʻi that she would also spend two weeks at the home of her Meyer cousins to wean each of her children.

While I have always valued open and non-judgmental communication, my genealogical connection to Molokaʻi underscores that as ʻohana, we must uphold aloha, free communication, shared involvement and responsibility.

In that spirit, I want to encourage you to come forward as ʻohana to participate in the upcoming OHA Board of Trustees meetings on Molokaʻi. I want and need your manaʻo.

Our theme is “Back to the ʻĀina” and the Community Meeting is scheduled for July 18 at 6:30 p.m., while the Board Meeting is scheduled for July 19 at 10:00 a.m. Both meetings will be held at the Lanikeha Community Center.

Photo: Trustee Alapa with Lane Kamakana
Trustee Alapa (left) with Lane Kamakana, who received a $1500 Raina Dudoit College Scholarship. The scholarship presentation was made at the Molokaʻi Paniolo Heritage Rodeo. – Photo: Courtesy

Out and about. June was a fun time for me on the island. I attended the Kamehameha Day parade and the Molokaʻi Paniolo Heritage Rodeo.

Ke Akua blessed us when I was able to raise $3,000 in scholarship money to contribute to the Raina Dudoit Scholarship fund. This is for high school seniors who are considering study in agriculture, animal husbandry and so forth. We need to educate our keiki who can return to solve such things as our deer problem!

Celebrate! A belated Hauʻoli Lā Makuakāne to the fathers who are with us today and to the special memories of the fathers who are with the ancestors.