Lanterns Floating Hawaii

It was an amazing gathering of 50,000 people at Ala Moana Beach in Oahu. People from various backgrounds gathered to send candle lit lanterns into the ocean in honor of their deceased loved ones. The ceremony itself involved the blessing of a Japanese Buddhist High Monk, a Hawaiian chant by Uncle Hau’ole, and a send off of canoes which gather the lanterns that have been sent out to sea. I felt enveloped by glowing comfort as I stood in waste high water, surrounded by lanterns with my future wife.

Categories: g kamana hunter, george hunter, hawaii, Huffington, ocean, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Touched by Healing in Hawaii


Oahu, Hawaii.  Kaneohe

At the Papahana Kualoa Waipao taro farm, I was invited to a public gathering of healers and hula dancers called the Pā I Ke Ola – Touched by Healing event.  It began with a Hawaiian oli (chant) to open the honoring ceremony, followed by traditional Hula dancing.  Each song  that was sung and danced honored a different aspect of Hawaiian culture, including the beautiful land of Kaneohe where the event took place.


In the distance, a wonderful mist covered the tops of the Ko’olau mountains in Kaneohe.  Participants crossed the nearby stream to view the taro patches that were fed by the fresh water.  Taro, which is the staple traditional food of Hawaii, had been planted in traditional fashion and used to make poi (mashed taro).


There was a tent for people to receive lomi lomi, the Hawaiian bodywork that incorporates massage, bone/joint adjustment, as well as spiritual cleansing.  Students of Kumu (teacher) Alva Andrews set up their stations, with some working on massage tables and other working on traditional Hawaiian mats.  The traditional Hawaiian music gave way to more modern blues as a live band played in the background as they began to serve the delicious food.

Traditional Hawaiian foods were served including Ulu (breadfruit), Kalo pa’a (steamed taro), and Laulau’s (meat and fish filled taro leaf packets).

In the past, I have received powerful lomi lomi sessions from Enrick Ortiz, one of Kumu Alva Andrew’s original students.  After years of hearing about uncle Alva from Enrick, I finally had a chance to meet his mentor who was being honored at Pa I Ke Ola. Kumu Alva has studied with lomi lomi master Kumu John Kalua and also studied ho’oponopono (traditional Hawaiian counseling/mind healing) with Aunty Abbi Napeahi.  His big hearted approach to healing lead him to also study outside of his own tradition with Hindu Master Gaush Supun.  These trainings have melded together to craft his own unique style of healing which he shares openly with people of all backgrounds.


The Hula dancers and lomi lomi practitioners, honored lomi lomi Kumu Alva Andrews.

Under the Lomi tent at the conference, a mutual friend, Aunty Diane Stevens-Poire, introduced me to Kumu Alva.  As we engaged in honi, the traditional Hawaiian greeting where our noses met and we breathed in each others’ breath, I felt a rush of care from Kumu Alva. The purpose of the honi is to have a pure exchange of each person’s Ha (breath of life), a moment to truly share each others essence.

We talked story, as I shared with him my training in the Iroquois healing arts that were transmitted to me through my uncle. He said, “your tradition is Native American, and mine is Native Hawaiian, but in the end it’s all the same spirit.  We just have different vocabulary.  All peoples come from the same source.”  He smiled brightly, then invited me to gather with him again to talk more about how to build that bridge between our different approaches to healing.  I felt honored by his respect.

It really warmed my heart to see these ancient practices in Hawaii continue on with the younger generations.

Categories: george hunter, hawaii, healer, healers, healing, holistic, Huffington, Hula, Kamana, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Merrie Monarch Hula Festival


Merrie Monarch Festival 2012, Kanaka’ole Stadium, Hilo, Hawaii

The elevated wood stage is well lit by the flood lights above. A giant arch serves as the ceiling, giving the feel of being in a wind tunnel as two sides of the arena are open air. Through that wind, comes a bouquet of smells; fresh night rain, tropical flowers, and big green leaves. Tonight is the first night of Merrie Monarch, the largest Hula competition in the world. It represents the continuation of an ancient culture through live Hawaiian music and expert storytelling through Dance. The theme of the first night is Exhibition, a free show to the public before the competitions begin.
The King and Queen of Merrie Monarch 2012
As I sit down with friends and family on the hard wood bleachers, a dance group from Japan is assembling onto the stage. They are dressed in flowing floral prints. Their Kumu (Hawaiian for teacher) has brought them out from Tokyo for a once in a lifetime chance to perform Hula in its homeland. After they announce the group, there is an awkward silence. Why is everyone just standing there? A dramatic pause? Did the musician’s mic get unplugged? Did they spontaneously forget their moves? As I scan the stage, my eye catches an elder Japanese lady ambling up the steep ramp which brings the performers to the stage. She obviously has some type of neurological challenge, such as Parkinson’s Disease, as she jitters her body forward in a controlled upwards stumble. She assumes her position next to two elder ladies, and the group commences to dance. The 40 women move with respect, turning and pruning their arms in well practiced moves. If they are under stress, it is hard to see as pure elation beams from the group.
Merrie Monarch 2012 Hula Kahiko
The elder lady who last entered the stage at first struggles to move here body. It stiff stops, then starts again with a flutter. Her mind knows what she wants to do, and her spirit pushes through her body, trying to move it. Then, something gives way in the Japanese Tutu’s (grandma) body, and her hands unexpectedly flow like water waves in perfect unison to the group. She flows to the left, hits an imaginary wall, changes direction, and once again falls into harmony with the group. So often, I have been taught in American society to feel pity or shame at the sight of someone with a debilitating disease. If this woman feels shame or embarrassment, I could not find it. In fact, the look on her face is pure amazement that she is dancing Hula at Merrie Monarch.
My eyes well with salt and water, and I wipe a tear away at the triumphant sight. This Tutu moves me, putting all of her heart into these movements with a large smile on her face. None of her fellow dancers pity her. They just patiently wait for her to enter the stage and fall into the groove as they have hundreds of times before. For me, the Japanese Tutu embodies pure celebration through the movement of her body. Would I have the strength to dedicate myself through that struggle and still have my dignity? Can I, a young, fit man celebrate like her? The crowd full of Hawaiians cheers for the group, without reservations. These women are truly doing honor to the art they have come to hold dear.
The next remarkable event was a small group of dancers from Rapa Nui. They are a Polynesian people associated with the Easter Islands who have become known throughout the world for their Mo’ai seen in the movie ‘Night at the Museum’. The Mo’ai is the large, statue head that says, “Hello Dum Dum, you got Gum Gum?”. But I think if the world was able to see their unique style of dancing, characterized by a rolling heel swivel movement, people may begin to associate the people or Rapa Nui with their dances. Experienced Tahitian dancers sitting next to me remarked at the distinctive knee movements and how even the muscle structure of the Rapa Nui dancers was different than other Polynesian dancers. Their legs were sleeker with well developed muscles by their shins and inner thighs. The dancers in the crowd wanted to try it!
After a few rounds of storytelling in motion, it’s time for the Pick-up Dance. This is the point where the experienced dancers on stage go out into the crowd and purposely try to find people who have never danced before. The guy sitting a few places from me was taken by an attractive dancer and coaxed onto the stage. He looks to be a man in his late 50’s, possibly from Europe. He stands in front of the woman, still in shock, and the drums begin to play. Then, his body starts moving in ways he didn’t know was possible. The crowd has a laugh, all in good fun. I think to myself, “whew, that was close. That could have been me up there if she had only walked a few more steps.”
They finish the song, but they are not done. They come around again. Another Pick Up Dance. Usually, they only do one. My friend Heather, an award winning competitive Tahitian Dancer, begins her campaign. “This one right here. His name is Kamana. Pick this one!” she says as her hand points down at me from above my head. All of my stealth techniques are destroyed. The young, light skinned Rapa Nui dancer dressed in black and white feathers pulls me from my chair; first with her stage charisma, and then with her hand. I follow her up the ramp onto the stage in a gravitational pull.
As I step onto the stage, the white hot lights come with an air of invigoration. It’s hard to see the crowd, so I forget about them and move in unison with the mysterious feather woman. I glance at the Rapa Nui male dancer, who had roped in a few women from the crowd, and try to copy his movements. It’s not working. So I just cut loose and dance, smiling at the women across from me and trying not to be blinded by the surrounding lights. She giggles. The dance feels like forever, and my legs start to burnout from the movements which I am not used to performing. Plus, I have no idea what I am doing and feel a little bit silly. For a moment, I remember the Japanese Tutu puttering up the ramp. She needed no shame and she was treated with respect. Her reminder to me helps the last remnant of conditioned embarrassment to shake away. I’m celebrating. This is Merrie Monarch. We’re on TV and all of Hawaii is watching. This moment is pure merriment. My spirit is fed, and my untrained body is toast. Just before I drop to one knee, the drums stop and I catch my breath. My blood pumps with a an amazing high, and I laugh freely. “Thank you” I say to the bird dancer as she directs me back to my seat.
“So, did I do alright up there on stage,” I ask my girlfriend, Kaimi, a Tahitian dancer of many years.
“Well…the important thing is that you had fun, honey.”
We Laugh. Luckily, she caught the whole scene in a bootleg video on my smart phone. I posted it on my Facebook wall.
Send a friend request to my Facebook page G. Kamana Hunter, you could be laughing too.  All will be accepted. Mahalo (gratitude).
Categories: 2012, hawaii, Hilo, Huffington, Hula, hula Winner, japan, Japanese, kamana hunter, Leis, Merrie Monarch, Parkinson's Night at the Museum, Rapa Nui, Tahiti, Tahitian, travel | Tags: | Leave a comment

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