Hawaii Culture: Inspiration In An Unlikely Place


Helani teaching our group a traditional Hawaiian chant

Typically if I’m opting for a hotel over a hostel I go for a boutique property over a big brand in order to have a more local, personalized experience. On a recent trip to Big Island in Hawaii, however, I was pleasantly surprised by the Hawaii culture offerings on hand at Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, like luaus, hula classes, a seed-to-table dining program and lei-making classes. The property also offers a “Huaka’i: The Journey” tour that takes guests back in time to ancient Hawaii. Walking along the water and Anaeho’omalu Beach, we toured a protected site of ruins and ancient fish ponds — named Ku’uali’i and Kahapapa — once used by Hawaiian royalty to raise mullet, barracuda, milkfish, goatfish and other fish. What made the experience truly special was the very road we walked on was once traversed by Hawaiian chiefs.

My guide for the tour was a local woman named Helani, who not only told us the stories of Hawaii’s ancestors, but also taught us an inspirational chant — written and composed by Kumu Keala Ching in 2010 — that I think is worth sharing. It’s about finding your own personal light within, and never giving up on your dreams. When you chant you should chant from the heart, saying the words:

E Ala E

E ala e, e ala e ka la
Kulia I, ka nu’u e
Piha ka pe’a, I ka Mumuku e
Hoe, hoe, hoe e ka wa’a e
Hoe, hoe, hoe e ka wa’a e
E ala e, e ala e ka la e…

Awake and arise the sun
Strive to the highest, the tip of the summit
Your sail is filled with the Mumuku wine (knowledge)
Paddle, paddle, paddle the canoe
Paddle, paddle, paddle the canoe
Awake and arise the sun

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