Hawaii Mom Blog: The 32nd Annual Celebration of the Arts




April 30, 2024

The 32nd Annual Celebration of the Arts

"Cultural practitioners were once an amenity.  Now they are a necessity."

This sentiment was expressed by Celebration of the Arts event chair Clifford Naeʻole in a short film about his life and involvement with The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua as a cultural advisor, and reflects the growing trend of local businesses honoring and respecting the Hawaiian culture. 

There was a period of time when businesses and people began to capitalize on "Hawaiʻi," selling rainbow-colored shirts or pineapple-topped foods to gain business, when these items really had not much, if anything at all, to do with Hawaiʻi.  

And it's these types of "Hawaiʻi" things that certain generations are accustomed to, as such "marketing" of Hawaiʻi continues.

But in recent years, there has been a shift, and more and more businesses are paying respect to the Hawaiian culture and traditions, incorporating authentic food, experiences, and more into their organizations, while passing on knowledge to both resident and visitors.  

The Celebration of the Arts is one such experience.  

The theme of this year's event - "E Kāmau ke Kuleana…The Privilege and Responsibility Perseveres,” is something that resonates strongly with me.  In my invovlement with Naʻau, I became more aware of how important it is to pass on knowledge to future generations.
I was thrilled to have been invited to The Celebration of the Arts again, and this year, I took the opening remarks at the Wehe Ka Ipuka - Open the Gateway ceremony to heart.  We were encouraged to connect and share with others, tell or listen to stories, and walk away learning something new.

The event started pre-dawn at the E Ala E and Hiuwai rituals at Honokahua Beach (aka DT Fleming Beach).  Participants enter the water (or you can just dip your toes) with the intentions to reflect and reset, and then a chant by all is given to the rising sun.

This was a very emotional experience once again - more so than last year.  As soon as I was ankle height in the water, the tears just started falling.  It had been a very trying year, but standing in the ocean made me so grateful.

I attended numerous workshops, and I left every one learning some profound lessons.  

"When your job is kuleana, you don't work a day in your life.  It's privilege."

"You are not the chosen one.  The kuleana chose you."
Those words were spoken by Makalapua Kanuha Bancaco and Kalikolehua Storer at Passing the Torch: Parental Expectations and the Next Generation. 

As a parent, it was very inspiring to learn about the challenges Makalapua overcame in her life, and it was moving to hear about her influence on her daughter, Kalikolehua.  I can only hope my own children grow up to recognize their kuleana.  

In Realizing Resilience, Dr. Trisha Kehau Watson and Walter Ritte discussed the origin ‘Āina Momona.  "Uncle" Walter talked about organizing and standing up for what you believe in.  It was eye-opening, as he discussed how locals could no longer freely access the beach to get fish, or hunt on different lands for axis deer due to private developments.  The locals could no longer fend for their own sustenance without fear of being arrested for trespassing.  

In the Kapa Curious, we learned about the history and traditions of kapa, and what I thought was most interesting - the various uses of certain local plants in dye-making, medicine, food, and more.

One of my favorite moments of the weekend was when I got to speak with kalai pahu (drum carver), Keoni Turalde.  I met him last year, but this year, I made a point to talk story with him and learn more about his craft.  He was so generous with his time and knowledge, which he eagerly passes on to any and all who are interested or attend his workshops.  
In just the short time I spent with him, I learned so much about pahu, such as what makes it different from other drums, how they are made, and why certain materials are used.  You can see a short video of some of my talk with Keoni here.  

Of course, there was lots of music, dance, food, and even a mākeke (market) of local crafters selling their wares.

But what I found to be most memorable and meaningful was the knowledge and lessons passed on by the speakers and cultural practitioners.  

The Celebration of the Arts is not only a celebration of the Hawaiian culture, but it is a celebration of Hawaiʻi, and all that makes it special - the people, the land, the traditions, the food.

Get to know the real Hawaiʻi at Celebration of the Arts. 

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