THE BLOG

30
Dec

Words of Wisdom

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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.

16
Dec

Harvesting Harmony

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Makahiki Games infused an urban park with ancient traditions and celebrations at the PA‘I Kaka‘ako Arts and Makahiki Fest.

To prepare for the arrival of Lono, the god of peace and prosperity, which was essential to the Makahiki season, Hawaiians ceased any activities that bore the signs of war or other negative energies. Over four lunar months, the populations of Hawai‘i’s fertile ahupua‘a gathered for the season’s festivities, with ali‘i, the chiefs of the land, presiding over the massive gatherings. Dried fish, pigs, prized feathers, and, of course, taro were presented to the ali‘i. The offerings were ceremoniously accepted on behalf of the akua, or gods, and redistributed among the communities.

“We’re excited because this is the time of year when it was celebrated in ancient times,” says PA‘I Foundation’s Vicky Holt Takamine about the Makahiki games that took place in Our Kaka‘ako in November. The Makahiki season was a chance to reconnect and reconsider power struggles in the face of a changing world, as well as a time to rest from the breakneck business of keeping a society alive.

“The people went back to their villages and harvested their crops and gave thanks,” Holt Takamine continues. In modern times, Makahiki season reminds us to come together and show gratitude for each other and all of the gifts bestowed on us.

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A handful of Hawaiian charter schools hosted activities for this year’s event, coordinated by PA‘I Foundation, and there was a terrific lineup of Hawaiian entertainment. As in times past, games included ‘ulu maika (Hawaiian lawn bowling) and ‘o‘ō ihe (spear throwing), to name a couple. Patrons can also partake in poi pounding and coconut palm weaving while enjoying hula performances by Pua Ali‘i Ilima.

Recently reopened following a half-million-dollar renovation and re-greening project, Mother Waldron Park served as the Makahiki arena. Game-playing tickets were earned by bringing donations for Hawai‘i Food Bank.

For Holt Takamine, the Kaka‘ako area in particular is a place of great significance. “These were the lands of King Kamehameha the Great, an important ahupua‘a that was owned, from the mauka, by Queen Liliuokalani,” she says. Though it remains a work in progress, Our Kaka‘ako is an ideal place to host these traditional activities, a central and developing landscape to serve O‘ahu well into its future, Makahiki seasons and all.

PA‘I Kaka‘ako Arts and Makahiki Fest took place on November 22 from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. at Mother Waldron Park, For more information, visit paifoundation.org.

08
Dec

Parking Spots

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Two new parklets encourage people to eat and play outdoors.

Text by Anna Harmon | Images by Jonas Maon

For years, the street in front of Hank’s Haute Dogs was just, well, hot, in an unimpeded concrete kind of way. Around the neighborhood, tasty eateries are nestled between colorful warehouses and wide streets, and parking is hailed as king. However, as Our Kaka‘ako quickly transforms, roads are beginning to get a makeover. This was made clear in September by the debut of two parklets built on top of an usurped parking spot in front of Hank’s.

“This one is play and that one is eat,” explains Ian Eickelberger, the owner of Sunworks Construction, which was contracted to execute plans by local design firm INK Architects to build the parklets. These are the first parklets to have been approved by the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting. The concept is to build out sidewalks, typically over parking spots, to create green spaces and amenities for passerby—a revaluing of community over cars. With an inviting, rustic aesthetic, the pair welcomes pedestrians to pause for just a minute, have a seat, and enjoy the moment.

It seems to be working. At the bar and tables of the “eat” parklet, a handful of people chow down on local fare. In the “play” parklet, where Eickelberger and I are seated, dominos and Jenga pieces are strewn across tabletops. A stationary bike sits in one corner, for anyone who wants to burn off a few carbs after a filling up at one of the breweries, bars, or restaurants nearby. Behind us, grassy plants separate us from any cars that roll by.

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“We tried to reuse as much as possible,” says Eickelberger, who has been an independent contractor for eight years. He has been perfecting his skills since he was 15 years old, when he started working construction during summer breaks on Maui, where he grew up. “The metal arches are from an old rollup door from the Pinch of Salt warehouse, and had a PowWow mural on it,” he explains. Much of the redwood used for the tables, benches, and flooring was sourced from Re-use Hawai‘i and the demolished building from Block D, where Kaka‘ako Agora is now (also a Sunworks Construction project). A rock wall in the play parklet includes pieces of broken stone from another recently demolished building that still bear the blue paint flecks of another mural.

Eickelberger contributed scrap redwood from his own collection in Kaka‘ako as well, where his headquarters were located until recently. Last year, he and his wife also had Limb Workshop, where they created custom designed furniture. He is currently on the lookout for a new space in the Kaka‘ako area, having found himself deeply invested in the community. “I think the biggest thing for me is I’m happy to be a part of the project,” he says. “Hopefully this is the beginning of something good for the community and the city.”

From a driver’s perspective, the parklets are intriguing—even more than the sight of an open parking space. Jutting into the street, they stand apart from the surrounding scenery, a surprising encounter that makes you want to pull over and join the folks framed by the redwood wall and metal arches. By changing the feel from grab-and-go to stay-and-play, the parklets are a sign of what’s to come, and that’s something communities can celebrate.

Visit the parklets in front of Hank’s Haute Dogs, located at 324 Coral St.