Friday, May 1, 2020

Lei Day and the Meaning of the Lei

Tor Johnson Hawaii Tourism authority

One of the many memories one takes away from the Hawaii experience is the unbelievable sights, smells and sounds you experience while on island.  This includes the array of beautiful flower, leaves and seed leis that are an important part of the Hawaiian culture. The lei is an important symbol of Hawaiian greeting and custom.  

The tradition of presenting and receiving leis first started with Polynesian voyagers who made the journey from Tahiti over to the Hawaiian island.  An enduring concept in Hawaiian culture is the lei or wreath of flowers being given to the wearer as a symbol of affection and honor.  Ancient Hawaiians made their leis out of sticks, teeth, bones and kukui nuts.  However, the kukui nut lei was only worn by alii (royalty).

Black Kukui Nut Lei- Jessicas Leis

Every year on May 1st, Lei Day is celebrated throughout the islands.  The celebration begins the morning of May 1st and continues into the next day.   Each island has its own special lei with their own materials and color.  The Lei Day celebration was first introduced in 1928 by Oklahoma poet Don Blanding who made his home in Hawaii.  His intention was to preserve the custom.

Each island has its own special lei including individual materials used and the color theme.

Hawaii-  Red (ohia lehua)
Oahu-      Yellow or Gold (ilima)
Maui-       Pink (lokelani)
Kauai-      Purple (mokihana)

Lanai-       Orange (kaunaoa)
Molokai-   Green (kukui)
Niihau-      White (pupu o Niihau/ Niihau shells)
Kahoolawe-  Silver or Gray (hinahina)

Modern day Lei Day celebrations are now a statewide event. Leis are given and worn by all.  There are school pageants and the selection of a royal court.  Island wide, there are lei making contests with creations that range from traditional to over-the-top.

The lei is a cherished tradition and symbol of greeting.  Even with the grand display and fun celebrations this day, there are some do’s and don’ts to follow.

Traditionally, Hawaiians touch noses or embrace one another when presenting a lei. The whole idea in presenting a lei is to show love, honor and love.

Never take off your lei once it has been received. This is considered rude.

Never throw away your lei. Hawaiians always return the lei to the earth as compost, drape it across a loved one’s photograph or dry and save it.
Never take a lei off and throw it around or swing it from your fingers.  Remember that someone put a lot of love and care into creating the lei.

Always accept aloha and never refuse a lei.  If you must remove your lei for any reason, do so with respect and be discreet.

Always give an open-end lei to pregnant women.  It is traditional to present a lei to a pregnant woman where the end is not tied closed.  It is considered a symbol of bad luck to give a pregnant woman a tied end lei as it represents the umbilical cord tied around the infant’s neck.

The proper way to wear your lei is draped over your shoulders gently hanging over both the front and back.

There are three types of lei making that are the most common.  There is the kui method, where materials are strung end to end.  There is haku or paited, and wili or wound.  Most leis are made from plant material, where the kui method uses string or thread.  

Niihau Shell Lei Necklace

The fragrant plumeria flower is one of the most common flowers used in lei making, but there is a large variety of plants, flowers, nuts and shells that are used to make these beautiful, symbolic creations.  It can take up to four hours or more to make the more elaborate leis.

Leis continue to be an enduring gesture of welcome and aloha to visitors. The growth in popularity goes back to the turn of the last century when Hawaii was becoming a sought out destination with visitors arriving by boat.

This is when the popularity of the lei grew with arriving tourists being greeted by vendors selling their fragrant creations and welcoming them to our island home. 
Ever since, the symbolic nature of the Hawaiian lei continues to be cherished as a beautiful symbol of the aloha spirit to this day. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Liliuokalani, The Last Queen of Hawaii

Liliuokalani, The Last Queen of Hawaii

“Never to cease to act because you fear you may fail." This is one of the many famous quotes of the first and only Hawaiian queen who ruled the kingdom of Hawaii, Liliuokalani, The Last Queen of Hawaii.

A Queen was Born

September 2, 1838 in Honolulu, on the island of Oʻahu, kingdom of Hawaii, Liliʻuokalani was born. She was given the birth name Liliʻu Loloku Walania Kamakaʻeha, then assumed the name Liliuokalani when she became heir apparent to the throne. Upon her baptism by Reverend Levi Chamberlain, a missionary, teacher, and agent for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions' Sandwich Islands Mission, she was given a Christian name Lydia.  

According to sources, Hawaiian names were genderless and often changed as people and their situations changed. Like for example, Hawaii’s last queen was born Lydia Liliu Loloku Walania Kamakaeha— “liliʻu (smarting), loloku(tearful), walania (burning pain) and kamakaʻeha (painful eye”)— in reference to the eye problem of the revered queen regent, Kinau. As a child, she was called by her Christian name, Lydia. Then, in 1877, when her brother, King David Kalakaua, appointed her as heir apparent to the throne, he modified her name Liliu to the more prestigious Liliuokalani— “okalani” meaning “of the heavens,” as an indication of royal status.

Liliuokalani descended from the generations of chiefs venerated by the Hawaiians as Gods. She was a member of a high-ranking Hawaiian family. Her biological parents Analea Keohokālole and Caesar Kapaʻakea descended from Keaweaheulu and KameʻeiamokuKeaweaheulu Kaluaʻapana was a Hawaiian high chief and maternal great-grandfather of King Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani. Kameʻeiamoku was a Hawaiian high chief and the Counselor of State to King Kamehameha I. Her mother, Keohokalole, served as an adviser to King Kamehameha III.

Hanai Tradition

As a tradition to Hawaiian royals and commoners alike, Liliuokalani along with her siblings, were hanai or adopted to other families. She was adopted by Abner Pākī and his wife Laura Kōnia and was raised like their own together with their biological daughter Bernice Pauahi. Hanai was the Kanaka Maoli custom whereby a family informally adopts a child given by someone else and raises that child as a family member. 

Liliuokalani and Family

This custom of Hanai was practiced ensuring that the Hawaiian culture was passed on from generation to generation. In Liliuokalani’s biography she describes that hanai "is not easy to explain... to those alien to our national life, but it seems perfectly natural to us. As intelligible a reason as can be given is that this alliance by adoption cemented the ties of friendship between the chiefs." Basically, this practice is part of the Hawaiin expression of “Aloha” which not only means Hello or Goodbye, but it may mean love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, pity, kindness or grace.

A noble Queen, a proficient Author and master Songwriter

She started her education at the missionary-run Royal School by missionary Amos Starr Cooke at the age of four. The school was closed when she was ten because of an epidemic of measles that took thousands of lives and her three-year-old sister Ka‘imina‘auao, who was the hanai daughter of Kamehameha III and Queen Kalama.

She finished 3rd in her class on May 5, 1853. In her 20s, she convinced O’ahu College to accept her as a student even though the school was exclusive for boys. She informally attended O’ahu College and received instructions under Mills College Cofounder, Susan Tolman Mills in California. She quoted “Knowledge has been a passion with me during my whole life, one which has not lost its charm to the present day.” Aside from her interest in being educated she also loves to play the guitar, piano, organ, ukulele and zither.

She also sang in alto, performing Hawaiian and English sacred and secular music. In her lifetime, she composed over 165 songs and chants. Her most famous work “Aloha ‘Oe” meaning Farewell to Thee, was about the two lovers bidding goodbye. Another famous song she wrote, which later became the most respected song of the Hawaiian Nation, titled “He Mele Lāhui Hawaiʻi" (The Song of the Hawaiian Nation). She wrote this at the request of the King Kamehameha V in 1866. In Hawaiian history, this is the third of Hawaiʻi's 4 national anthems.

Marriage and Career life

When her hanai parents passed away, Liliʻuokalani came under the Bishop's guardianship. During this time, she became a part of the young social elite under the reign of Kamehameha IV. Liliʻuokalani served as maid of honor to Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV’s wedding and was also noted by some royal dignitaries as “The highest unmarried woman in the Kingdom”. She has been pursued by several gentlemen. She was shortly engaged to William Charles Lunilao in which she shared interest in music composition, but she then broke the engagement due to the opposition of the Bishops and the urging of King Kamehameha IV.

Afterwards, she became romantically involved and got married to an American-born statesman, John Owen Dominis, who later became the Governor of Oahu and Maui. She met Dominis during school days. They had been engaged for two years but had to delay their wedding due to the death of Prince Albert, the young son of King Kamehameha IV. It was also the King’s request to postpone the wedding. 

John Owen Dominis 

After the wedding, the couple moved to Washington Palace in Honolulu where the Dominise’s residence is. It was said to be an unhappy marriage with Dominis’ infidelities which bore him a son to one of Liliʻuokalani’s servants. Since the couple did not have any children, Liliʻuokalani adopted three hanai children including her husband’s son. Their union also suffered domestic conflict between Liliʻuokalani and Dominis’ mother who did not approve of his son’s marriage to a Hawaiian.

In 1881, she acted as regent during King Kalakaua’s world tour in 1881 and helped raised funds to build “The Queens Hospital” and active in organizing Schools for Hawaiian youth. During this time she convinced the governmental board of health to set aside land for a leprosy hospital at Kakaʻako. Then in 1886, she founded a bank for women in Honolulu named Liliuokalani’s Savings Bank. In the same year, she also founded the Liliʻuokalani Educational Society which supported the tuition of Hawaiian girls at Kawaiahaʻo Seminary for Girls.

April 1887, Liliuokalani and her husband attended Queen Victoria's jubilee as one of delegates acting as the official envoy of the King. In London, Queen Kapiʻolani and Liliʻuokalani received an official audience with Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace. Shortly after the Jubilee celebrations, they learned of the Bayonet Constitution that King Kalākaua had been forced to sign under the threat of death. They canceled their tour of Europe and returned to Hawaii.  

Ascension to the throne

After the death of Kamehameha V in 1872 without an heir, an election for the next monarch was made and Lunalilo got a unanimous vote and became the first elected king of Hawaii. Two years after, he died without an heir. This led to another election between the dowager of Kamehameha IV, Queen Emma and Liliʻuokalani’s brother, David Kalakaua which was won by the latter.

Kalakaua’s accession to the throne paved the way for his siblings to have royal titles, Princess Lydia Kamakaʻeha Dominis and Princess Miriam Likelike Cleghorn, as well as his brother William Pitt Leleiohoku which he named heir to the Hawaiian throne since he and Queen Kapiʻolani had no children of their own. Leleiohoku died without an heir in 1877, Princess Lydia was named heir apparent and was known by her royal name, Liliʻuokalani thereafter. Liliʻuokalani became the first woman to take the throne and rule over the Kingdom of Hawaii following the death of her brother King Kalakaua in 1891. She was also the last sovereign ruler of the Hawaiian Islands.

During her short-lived regime, Queen Liliʻuokalani attempted to promulgate a new 
constitution which would have restored the power to the monarchy and the voting rights of the Native Hawaiian people. She also opposed the renewal of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1887, which was signed by her brother, the late King Kalakaua. This move alienated her from Hawaii’s foreign businessmen, who, after her accession, tried to abrogate her authority. These actions led to the formation of the “Committee of Safety” who staged a coup with the help of U.S. Minister John Stevens conspired to overthrow the Queen.

Sanford Dole, a son of American Protestant missionaries, an opponent of the policies of King Kalakaua, and the leader of the reform movement that the Missionary Party led a committee representing the Hawaiian sugar businessmen and American allies overthrown Queen Liliuokalani. The Queen’s abdication in January 1893 and, declaring the queen deposed, announced the establishment of a provisional government. To avoid bloodshed, Liliuokalani surrendered, but she appealed to President Cleveland to reinstate her. President Cleveland ordered the queen restored, but Dole defied the order, claiming that Cleveland did not have the authority to interfere.

In 1895, royalist Robert Wilcox, led an insurrection in the queen’s name. Unfortunately, he failed with his plan as he was suppressed by Dole’s group, and Liliuokalani was kept under house arrest on charges of treason. On January 24, 1895, to win pardons for her supporters who had been jailed following the revolt, she agreed to sign a formal abdication.

Liliuokalani established the “Onipa’a” (Stand Firm) movement which aims to fight annexation and whose belief was “Hawaii for the Hawaiians”, but she was fighting a losing battle since annexation finally occurred in July 1898. Liliuokalani spent her remaining days at her Washington Place estate as a regular citizen and was visited by both local and tourist alike to pay their respects. She died on November 11, 1917 due to complications from a stroke at the age of 79 and her remains were placed at the Royal Mausoleum at Mauna 'Ala.

As part of her efforts to remain strong and leave a legacy to the future Hawaiian generation, the Queen published Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen Liliuokalani in early 1898. She was working closely with the American journalist Julius Palmer on the manuscript. The book reflects her experiences and perspectives during her reign up to her imprisonment and Hawaii’s annexation. She quoted "Love of country is deep-seated in the breast of every Hawaiian, whatever his station." This classic work is the only autobiography written by a Hawaiian monarch. Through the years, Lili‘uokalani never wavered in her commitment to the people of Hawai‘i. In her will, she entrusted her estate to provide for orphan children of Hawaiian blood, amended later to include other destitute children.  Her legacy is perpetuated today through the Lili‘uokalani Trust. The Lili‘uokalani Trust has locations on each of Hawaiian Islands, with the exception of the island of Ni‘ihau.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Hawaiian Healing Secret

When you think of Hawaii, so many images come to mind.  White sand beaches, turquoise waters, breathtaking waterfalls, humpback whales, snorkeling, traditional luaus, Hawaiian music and the beauty and warmth of the Hawaiian people. There is another interesting thing about Hawaii that you may never have heard of.  It is Ho’oponopono, the Hawaiian Healing Secret.

The Hawaiian Healing Secret simply speaks about healing ourselves, other people, and the world around us.  How do we do this?  By forgiving.

Forgiveness is sometimes easier said than done.  Especially when the very nature of being human often puts us at odds with this practice.  We tend get angry when someone hurts us, and often hang on to resentments.

According to the great writer Elizabeth Marx, forgiveness is a four-letter word.  Love.

But how often do we make the conscious decision to say we’re sorry?  How many of us have forgiven a person even though that person has never asked for forgiveness? Why is it so hard to forgive sometimes?  Why can’t some people forgive?  Do we ever feel happy and healed when we don’t choose to forgive?  

These are a few questions we should ask ourselves in order to gain and achieve peace, harmony, and freedom. When we reach this level, then we are completely healed mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Traditional Hawaiians believed that all forms of life are connected. And when you become right with others, you become right with yourself. That’s when Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona, a Hawaiian master of traditional medicine came up with a process called ​Self-identity through Ho'oponopono​.   

The Hawaiian word Ho'oponopono comes from Ho'o ("to make") and Pono ("right"). In Hawaii, Ho'oponopono means: “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.” The direct translation in English is “to make right.”

Ho'oponopono is the ​Hawaiian​ practice of ​reconciliation​ and ​forgiveness​ through chanting the mantra internally or externally, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.” It’s a practice that still holds the values of making things right and correcting errors.  It is essentially about freedom. Complete freedom from the past. This allows us to reclaim our personal inner connection with love.  It can help restore harmony within and with others. 

There was once a story written by Dr. Joe Vitale about a Hawaiian therapist named Dr. Ihaleakalá Hew Len who worked, traveled and presented with Morrnah for years. Dr. Len was said to have cured an entire ward of mentally ill patients by practicing and applying Ho’oponopono in his life.

According to the story, the ward is where they kept the criminally insane.  Psychologists quit on a monthly basis. The staff called in sick often or simply quit. People would walk through that ward with their backs against the wall, afraid of being attacked by patients. It wasn’t a pleasant place to live, work, or visit.

But then Dr. Len studied a patient’s chart and looked within himself to see how that person's illness was created. As he improved himself, the patient improved. As he healed himself, patients began to heal.

“After a few months, patients that previously had to be shackled were being allowed to walk freely. Others who had to be heavily medicated were getting off their medications. And those who had no chance of ever being released were being freed." Dr. Len said.  

The amazing results seemed like a miracle. Dr. Vitale, being confused by this process, asked how and what did Dr. Len do within himself that caused those people to change. Dr. Len explained that total responsibility for your life means that everything in your life today, is your responsibility. 

In a literal sense, the entire world is your creation. If you take complete responsibility for your life, then everything you see, hear, taste, touch, or in any way experience is your responsibility because it is in your life. This means that anything you experience and don't like is up for you to heal. The problem isn't with them, it's with you, and to change them, you have got to change yourself.  

Dr. Len said, “I'm sorry and I love you," over and over again. That’s all he did. It turns out that loving yourself is the greatest way to improve yourself. And as you improve yourself, you improve your world. 
He stated that we all share responsibility for everything we see in our world. By taking personal responsibility for our part and then healing the wounded places within ourselves, we can literally heal ourselves and our world.  

Repentance, Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Love are the only forces at work – but these forces have amazing power.  By saying “I'm sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you” over and over again to ourselves, to people we have hurt, to people who have hurt and wronged us, to our body, to the air we breathe, to our memories, to everything we hold ourselves responsible of, we free and heal ourselves.

Repentance – I’M SORRY

As mentioned, you are responsible for everything in your mind, and everything else that is happening around you​. Though yes, most of us would ​likely resist accepting responsibility for everything that is literally happening out there. But you can also choose something that you already know you’ve caused for yourself. Addicted to nicotine, alcohol or some other substance? Do you have anger issues? Relationship issues? Career issues? Family issues? Health problems? Overweight? Start there and say you’re sorry.  


Ask for forgiveness. Realize that you are responsible for everything that’s happening in your life and around you.  Just ask "PLEASE FORGIVE ME." Say it over and over and mean it.  

Gratitude – THANK YOU

Say “THANK YOU."  It doesn’t really matter who or what you’re thanking. Thank your body and your eyes for working...Thank yourself, for being the best you can be. Thank the challenges you had and will have. Thank your family, your friends, God. Thank your talents, thank your job. Thank the Universe.  Just keep saying "THANK YOU."


Say it to your body. Say it to the air you breathe, to the house that shelters you.  Say "I LOVE YOU" to your family, to God. Say it over and over. Mean it. Feel it. There is nothing more powerful than Love.

I LOVE YOU my body, for letting me feel, taste, hear, see things. For being strong.

I’M SORRY, to myself, to the people I have hurt, for failing myself too many times.

PLEASE FORGIVE ME, I am asking forgiveness to myself. For whatever is happening in me which is causing a problem.

THANK YOU, for the problems that have manifested in my life, so I have one more chance to resolve and release it.

THANK YOU, for this life given to me, for the opportunity, for letting me see my purpose.
I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you. 

These are a few things you can say. Accept and embrace whatever is happening in your life and take full responsibility for it. As we improve ourselves, we improve the world around us.  
Dr. Len explained, the physical is the expression of memories and inspirations taking place in the soul of self-identity.  Change the state of self-identity and the state of the physical world changes. When your soul experiences memories replaying as problems, say to them mentally or silently: "I love you, dear memories. I am grateful for the opportunity to free all of you and me.”

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Halloween 2018 Happenings on Maui

If you’ve never experienced Halloween on Maui- you are in for a trick-or-TREAT! 😊
Parties, parades, celebrations and live music events are held in many places on island and Maui residents take their celebrations very seriously! 
Here are just a few family friendly and adult themed party ideas to enjoy some tropical style Halloween fun. 
Happy Halloween and Enjoy!

Lahaina Town-  October 31st- Halloween in Lahaina Town!  Probably one of the most well known Halloween events. This is one of the biggest Halloween parties on Maui!  It is often referred to as the “Mardi Gras of the Pacific”.  Front Street is closed off so visitors and
residents can stroll up and down the street as they celebrate and take in the sights and sounds of the celebration.  Make sure you join in and wear a costume! The party starts before sunset. They have a keiki (children) costume parade that starts around 4pm, and many of the local bars and restaurants have costume contests for adults with various prizes.

Tip: Parking is easier to find in Lahaina this night if you arrive before 3pm. Take a boat ride from Maalaea Harbor to Lahaina Harbor to beat some of the traffic. There are numerous events happening on Halloween. For more information, please visit the Lahaina Town website here: 

For more information, please visit the Lahaina Town website here:

Halloween in Lahaina. Video: Kathy McCartney

Lahaina Cannery Mall will provide a fun and safe place for families to enjoy Halloween with their Halloween Cannery Kids Night.  Enjoy trick-or-treating, face painting, balloon twisting, games and a keiki costume contest on Wednesday, Oct. 31 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 

Local magician Holden Mowat will perform dazzling family friendly magic at 5:00 p.m. followed by Lahaina Cannery’s Keiki Costume Contest at 6:00 p.m.  More than a dozen great prizes from Maui Toy Works and Hawaiian Island Creations will be awarded in four age groups: 0-2, 3-4, 5-8 and 9-12 years old. This year, a new category has been added for family or group costumes!  

Halloween Cannery Kids Night Schedule of Events:
5:00- 5:45pm: Family Magic Show featuring Holden Mowat
6:00 pm: Keiki Costume Contest and Family Costume Contest
5:00-8:00pm: Trick-or-treating store to store
For more information, please visit their website here:

Awalua Farm- 1008 Awalau Rd, Haiku, Hawaii 96708  This farm located in Haiku offers two events- one kid friendly and one for adults who seek something a bit more dark and mysterious! 
Kid Friendly:

Myths of Avalon Family Farm Tour Saturday, October 27th from 12-4pm
Maui's most Magical Farm Tour!  Walk thru Enchanted Gardens. Meet Mythological Creatures (watch for mermaids!).  Follow the Map & Collect Treasures. Family Friendly, Kid Oriented Play Park.

Adults: Haunted Haiku Hike 2018
Historic Haunted Tours through upper Haiku. Explore ancient caves and hidden waterways. Discover the secrets of the spooky forest. Find the lost souls of the Kalakohe Valley. Learn the forbidden tales of Maui's dark past:
BY RESERVATION ONLYOne tour every Friday night in October from 5-6pm, limited to 20 guests. Special event tour on Wednesday, October 31st!  
For more information, email Awalua Farm at to reserve your spot or please contact Awalua Farm directly: (808) 878-8091

Mulligan’s On The Blue- Kihei, HI.  Halloween Party October 31st

Halloween Party and Live Music with Maui’s own Soul Kitchen. This amazing band was voted “Best Maui Band 2017” by Maui Times Weekly.  When on island and seeking some of the best live music around, you need to experience Soul Kitchen Maui!  Visit the band's website here:

Soul Kitchen will be rockin’ Mulligan’s on the Blue with their 7 Soul Kitchen chefs in our musical kitchen! We will be serving up HOT non-stop helpings of our best dancing tunes!
Costume contest with cash prizes!  Website

When:  Wednesday, October 31st, 7pm- 9pm
Where:  Mulligans on the Blue, 100 Kaukahi St, Kihei, HI 96753
Mulligan’s on the Blue - Hot Wailea Nights with Soul Kitchen’s new enhanced 7-piece band
from 7:00-9:00 PM.  $15 cover is waived if you have $15 worth of food and drink.

Soul Kitchen is an acoustic-infused music alchemy, crossing  te genres of Soul, Blues, Jazz, Zydeco, Middle Eastern & Rock! You cannot help but “FEEL” their unforgettable originals and eclectic covers! Tempa’s searing, soulful, award-winning voice (Best Colorado Blues Band, Best Soul Album Award) & Naor's exotic, sweet style (Former Israeli Idol finalist) with the group’s impeccable four-part harmonies, Violin, Cajon, Sax, Piano, Guitar and Bass makes this band a “must see” Maui experience!

Dinner reservations are highly recommended at Mulligan's for the best seats. Call 808-874-1131 for reservations.