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Hawaiinuiāke Cousinʻs-1

Hawaiinuiāke Cousinʻs-1 -...

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Lilikalā K. Kame‘eleihiwa is a senior professor at the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and formerly director from 1998-2004. Trained as an historian, she is also an expert in Hawaiian cultural traditions, and in the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. LILIKALĀ KAME‘ELEIHIWA Hawai‘i-nui-akea Cousins: Ancestral Gods and Bodies of Knowledge are Treasures for the Descendants Introduction In 1988, I was invited to attend the opening of the Māori Studies marae, or traditional carved meeting house, in Auckland University, as a representative of the Hawaiian Studies Program at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. It was my very first visit to Aotearoa, and my mission was to bring the mana, or spiritual power, of my Hawaiian ancestors to join with Māori ancestors at that marae, by participating in all of the days of preparation and ceremonies, from the dawn blessing to the hours of gift giving, speeches, and on my part chanting, to the great feast that followed and the subsequent days of meeting Māori academics and colleagues. Sir Hugh Kawharu was head of the Department of Māori Studies, with Drs Patu Hohepa, Margaret Mutu, and Ranginui Walker as professors there. How lucky was I to meet such illustrious Māori academics! It was an experience of Māori life by immersion. I was privileged to stay with Pakaariki Harrison, the master carver of the marae, and his lovely wife Hinemoa, a master weaver who made all of the tukutuku for the new building; thus I learned first hand about what the carvings meant and why certain colors were chosen to represent pō and ao, or night and day, as well as the land and the ocean. I learned that the Māori cosmogonic genealogy and gods were incredibly similar to those of my Hawaiian ancestors. The prayers of the dawn blessing echoed the ones we do at home
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Hawai‘i-nui-akea Cousins: Ancestral Gods and Bodies of Knowledge are Treasures for the Descendants Te Kaharoa, vol. 2, 2009, ISSN 1178-6035 43 and I found that our languages were incredibly similar. Moreover, I kept seeing Māori who looked remarkably like Hawaiian family and friends that I had just left in Hawai‘i, some 4,385 miles away. I was stunned by the similarities. I was stunned because for the very first time I realised that we Hawaiians were not alone on the earth, either as a separate people or in our philosophical understandings of the world. Unlike the American settlers in our homeland, our Māori cousins had identical expectations regarding civilised behaviour – generosity in all things, especially in the sharing of food, as well as the sanctity of tapu – no one touched my long hair or tapped me on the head, as Americans frequently used to do when I was younger, since Māori know those behaviors are tapu.
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