Story by Rita Goldman | Photography by Nina Lee
In its twenty-five years, Po‘okela has influenced the community beyond Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel. Mike White recalls the day Keamoku Kapu came to him with a challenge: Have every department in the hotel create something Hawaiian during the four months of Makahiki, the season of peace and renewal.
“I took the challenge to the executive committee,” says White. “They said, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’ Keamoku told me, ‘I knew you would do it. You’re the only ones who could.’
“Lani Nishimura, who works in the hotel’s kitchen, wanted to make a ko‘i [a Hawaiian stone adze fastened with sennet to a wooden handle]. Hoaka Delos-Reyes took her under his wing.” A skilled traditional stone carver, Delos-Reyes was so impressed with Lani’s dedication that he gave her the sennet given to him by Mau Piailug, the Micronesian who reintroduced the art of celestial navigation to Hawai‘i.
At the next year’s Makahiki ceremony, each department offered up what its employees had crafted.
“When Lani had to give up that ko‘i, she had tears,” White recalls. “But she said, ‘I’m three-quarters Hawaiian. I’ve never done anything to focus on my own culture until now.’
Read more about Po‘okela in “Employing Po‘okela.”