Story by Diane Haynes Woodburn
It’s early morning at Makena Beach. The wind is up, and the ocean turning. We are the first to arrive for a celebration of life honoring our friend Bert, who has recently passed. Later, Kimokeo Kapahulehua will accompany Bert’s wife, son, and a few close friends, including Jamie and me, on the six-man outrigger canoe to scatter ashes in the ocean Bert loved so much.
“Oh,” I comment sadly. “We’ll never be able to launch the canoe.” My husband hangs his head. “Let’s see what happens,” he says. “Things change.” Yes, I think, things change. We can count on that.
Soon our friends begin to gather. We share our stories, our manao, of Bert. Kimokeo leads a prayer, assuring us that “the spirit continues in the sea, the mountains, the heavens. Our kupuna [elders],” he explains, “remain with us.”
Perhaps the most beautiful of the Hawaiian teachings is the belief in the connection between the spiritual world and our world on Earth. Everything endures; nothing is ever truly gone. Spring will bring growth and renewal, as it does every year.
As we stand together, holding hands, Kimokeo’s words remind me of this issue’s story on loko ia—Hawaiian fishponds built more than 500 years ago. In long human lines that ran from the mountain to the sea, Kimokeo’s ancestors handed the rocks down one by one. Today, Hawaiians like Kimokeo spend countless hours restoring the walls of fishponds scattered by time and tide.
I am reminded, too, of the words of Vene Chun, guardian of the Kihei fishpond Koieie, recorded in one of the Maui No Ka ‘Oi archived “Making Over Maui” segments on the loko ia. Interviewed by host Lia Craig, Chun expresses how the mana (spirit) of his ancestors is stored in the rocks that were placed there with so much hard work, so long ago. As he handles and works with each stone, he explains, he is also connecting with his forebears. Another man in the video comments that working on the wall reminds him that, “Although things get knocked down, with perseverance we overcome. Life is like that,” he says.
Our spring issue of Maui No Ka ‘Oi comes to you filled with many bright and hopeful colors of the season. “Island Portrait” features Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto, whose visionary leadership over the past thirty years has guided Maui Community College to become the University of Hawaii–Maui College, changing the paradigm of educational opportunities for island residents. And what spring issue would be complete without flowers? Writer Paul Wood explores an explosion of color in “Hot Tropicals,” Hawaii exotics that will be at the Philadelphia Flower Show—as will Maui No Ka ‘Oi.
And then there is fashion—an imperative of spring. In “Grand Fashion,” haute couture is spiced with a little local attitude in our iconic expression of Maui chic. “Clothes,” Virginia Woolf tells us, have “more important offices than merely to keep us warm; they change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.”
Things change. We can count on that—just as we know the cycle of life is eternal, and rejoice in loving friends and family.
At Makena, the wind has subsided. The sea is glassy and inviting. We paddle out and throw our lei and flowers into the ocean. Looking up, I see a small fleet of friends and family who have come to join us—on surfboards, boogie boards, one-man canoes, or just swimming. Each one adds a flower to the flotilla of color and love that floats outward to say, “Aloha, dear friend. We will miss you, and take faith in knowing your spirit remains.”
Things change. But love and friendship endure.