For many Hawaiians, lava flows are a time to honor, reflect - Albuquerque Journal

For many Hawaiians, lava flows are a time to honor, reflect

HONOLULU (AP) — When Willette Kalaokahaku Akima-Akau looks out at the the lava flowing from Mauna Loa volcano and makes an offering of gin, tobacco and coins, she will be taking part in a tradition passed down from her grandfather and other Native Hawaiians as a way to honor both the natural and spiritual worlds.

Akima-Akau said she plans to take her grandchildren with her and together they will make their offerings and chant to Pele, the Hawaiian deity of volcanoes and fire, who her grandfather used to pay reverence to as a kupuna, a word that can mean ancestor.

“This is the time for our kupuna, for our people, and for our children to come and witness what is happening as history is being made every day,” she said, adding that today’s experiences will be added to the next generation’s stories, songs, dances and chants.

For many Native Hawaiians, an eruption of a volcano like Mauna Loa has a deep yet very personal cultural significance. For many it can be an opportunity to feel a connection with creation itself through the way lava gives birth to new land, as well as a time to reflect on their own place in the world and the people who came before them.

“A volcanic eruption is a physical manifestation of so many natural and spiritual forces for Hawaiians,” said Ilihia Gionson, a Hawaii Tourism Authority spokesperson who is Native Hawaiian and lives on the Big Island. “People who are unfamiliar with that should understand that it’s a very personal, very significant thing.”

To be sure, not all Native Hawaiians will feel the need to make a trek to see the lava, but among those who do, some may chant, some may pray to ancestors and some may honor the moment with hula, or dance.

“Some people may be moved to just kind of observe in silence, meditate, you know, commune with their higher power or their kupuna in their own ways,” Gionson said.

Kainani Kahaunaele said as a Native Hawaiian, she feels moved to honor the moment and will take her children, nieces, nephews and close friends as close to the lava flow as possible. There they will chant to Pele.

“Our hookupu will be our voice,” she said, using the Hawaiian word for offering. “It’s not for any kind of show. It’s a connection that we’re making to Pele, to the land, to Mauna Loa.”

Many Hawaiians are practicing family traditions that have been passed down from elders.

Akima-Akau, who lives in Kawaihae on the west side of the Big Island, remembers hearing stories about how her grandfather would fly from Maui or Oahu whenever there was a Big Island lava flow to honor Pele.

“He would jump on a plane and come to Hawaii Island to give his hookupu,” offerings of gin, silver dollars and tobacco, she said.

Her grandfather died before she was born, so she doesn’t know exactly why he chose those items, but he wasn’t alone. She said she grew up knowing others who offered the same items, so that is what her family will bring. She said the children will offer Pele a ti leaf lei.

Hawaiians have different relationships with the spirituality of lava, said Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner Kealoha Pisciotta. To Pisciotta, the lava “brings good mana” — which can mean supernatural or divine power — “and cleanses where it needs cleansing.”

There are also different relationships and connections to Pele, who some refer to as a god or goddess. Pele has great significance in Hawaiian culture, representing all the phenomena related to volcanoes — the magma, steam, ash, acid rain.

“Her primary form is the lava, not necessarily that she is a female, human person. But the image of her function is creation, which happens to be a very feminine image,” said Kekuhi Kealiʻikanakaʻole, a cultural practitioner in Hilo.

Pisciotta calls her “Tutu Pele,” using the word for grandparent, because deities “are more ancient than we are.”

Manua Loa’s spectacular show is drawing thousands of people seeking nighttime views of the lava flowing down the mountain’s northeast flank, clogging the main east-west road on the island. Among them are those coming to pay their respects, leaving altars or shrines along the roadway.

The slow-moving lava flow was about 2.7 miles (4.3 kilometers) from the road Friday, U.S. Geological Survey scientists said.

Cultural practitioners like Pisciotta want lava gawkers to be mindful of those who are chanting, praying or gathering in ceremonies amid the eruption: “Give them some space and respect.”

“If a person doing something wants to invite somebody to participate or watch, there will be an invitation,” said Gionson, the tourism official. “And if not, respect that and keep a respectful distance.”

So far, the tourism authority hasn’t received any complaints about people getting in the way of cultural practices, he said, adding that the agency focuses on educating tourists in general about being respectful and behaving appropriately when visiting the islands.

Kahaunaele, who teaches Hawaiian language and music at the University of Hawaii’s Hilo campus and planned to gather with her family on Thursday night, knows that visitors to the island might be curious when they see and hear her family chanting.

“Don’t film us. Don’t even ask for permission, just don’t,” she said. “That even goes for locals. Don’t infringe upon anybody else’s moment.”

___

Associated Press reporter Caleb Jones in Hilo, Hawaii, contributed to this report.

Home » News » Nation » For many Hawaiians, lava flows are a time to honor, reflect

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories




Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages

 

Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
1
Smells like student advocacy? Schoolkids bolster bill to create ...
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico already has a state ... New Mexico already has a state song, a state cookie, a state bird, a state flower and even a state question. What about a ...
2
Find out where Tori Amos will perform in ABQ
ABQnews Seeker
Trailblazing artist Tori Amos is set ... Trailblazing artist Tori Amos is set to perform in Albuquerque on July 18, at the Kiva Auditorium. Presale tickets go on sale on Wednesday, ...
3
How much do elected officials in Albuquerque and Bernalillo ...
ABQnews Seeker
Here's how much Mayor Tim Keller ... Here's how much Mayor Tim Keller and other elected officials in the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County make annually.
4
Documentary looks at connections between women and Route 66
ABQnews Seeker
'Route 66: The Untold Story of ... 'Route 66: The Untold Story of Women on the Mother Road' will be shown in Gallup on Thursday, Feb. 2, and in Albuquerque on ...
5
Three Albuquerque seniors pitch bill to require free feminine ...
ABQnews Seeker
They say the measure is a ... They say the measure is a critical component of achieving equity in education.
6
Four arrested after woman loses eye to stray bullet ...
ABQnews Seeker
An innocent bystander lost one of ... An innocent bystander lost one of her eyes after being struck in the face by a stray bullet last week while driving on East ...
7
3 is the key: Lobos aim to cool hot-shooting ...
ABQnews Seeker
The Lobos have been good defending ... The Lobos have been good defending 3-pointers this season, but Utah State leads the nation in 3-point percentage.
8
Alec Baldwin and armorer charged with involuntary manslaughter in ...
ABQnews Seeker
Movie star Alec Baldwin and armorer ... Movie star Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were each charged with involuntary manslaughter in the 2021 shooting on the  set of the film ...
9
14-year-old dies days after double shooting on West Side
ABQnews Seeker
A 14-year-old was taken off life ... A 14-year-old was taken off life support after being shot and critically injured Friday night in Southwest Albuquerque. The shooting also claimed the life ...
10
Ex-commissioner’s ethics hearing proceeds without her
ABQnews Seeker
A hearing to decide whether a ... A hearing to decide whether a former Bernalillo County commissioner erred in accepting a lobbyist's large campaign contribution proceeded Tuesday even though the onetime ...