Community leaders and Kamehameha students share values to be learned from the Mahakihi season.
“Hawai‘i has no seasons,” is the oft-heard refrain from new transplants or the unfortunate local who spends all of his or her time indoors. Don’t repeat it to the students of Kamehameha Schools, who met with Native Hawaiian community leaders at Kaka‘ako Agora in early October to discuss Makahiki, the traditional Hawaiian season of peace (among many other things).
“It is more than a celebration,” community and cultural leader Shad Kāne explained to the students. “It was an effort to establish a relationship between the chiefs and the gatherers.” As part of Kamehameha School’s holistic curriculum, leaders discussed the season’s current meaning inspired by these words of leadership: akamai, smart, clever; pono, goodness, morality; maiau, careful, meticulous; ‘imi na‘auao, to seek knowledge; kuleana, one’s responsibility; and laulima, to work in cooperation. The panel included master chanter and kumu hula Mehanaokalā Hind; Kapono Souza, who has spent the last several years circumnavigating different Hawaiian islands taking cultural surveys during Makahiki season; kumu and educator Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu; and Hi‘ilei Kawelo, executive director of the gorgeously rebuilt fishpond Papepae o He‘eia.
“When I was a student, I learned languages and histories of other places,” Kāne said, encouraging the students to seek out knowledge. “I have tried to figure out who I am, as a Hawaiian. If we lose these things, I don’t know if we can call this place Hawai‘i.”
Much of what can be learned by continuing the tradition of Makahiki is observance—that to observe the subtle shifts in wind and temperature is to know a sense of place and a sense of mind.