All Hawaiʻi, stand together…

27 07 2019

Our people singing on Mauna Kea

Kū Kia‘i Mauna

18 07 2019

Stand, protectors of Mauna Kea.  Eo!

In my head and in my heart all day long is the ho‘ōho (call) of “Kū Ha‘aheo E Ku‘u Hawai‘i,” a contemporary Hawaiian anthem composed by Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong. Here is the link:

Kū ha‘aheo e ku‘u Hawai‘i

Mamaka kaua o ku‘u ‘āina

‘O ke ehu kakahiaka o nā ‘oiwi o Hawai‘i nei

No ku‘u lahui e hā‘awi pu a i ola mau


Stand tall my Hawai‘i

Band of warriors of my land

The new dawn for our people of

Hawai‘i is upon us

For my nation I give my all so

that our legacy lives on



On being Hawaiian

9 01 2018

Hawaiians are gearing up for a ceremonial observance on January 17 of the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani 125 year’s ago. I am Hawaiian.

I won’t be marching from Mauna Ala down Nuuanu Avenue and King street to Iolani Palace as I did in 1993 for the 100th observance, but I will be near the Iolani Palace bandstand in an information booth set up by the Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi Political Action Committee. I am a citizen of Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi.

Last night I attended the first of several Mele Workshops taught by Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong to learn more about the songs of our nation. She entitled it “I Welo Mau Loa Kuʻu Hae Hawaiʻi / May my Hawaiian flag fly evermore…”

Kumu Hina

Kumu Hina wrote, “No matter the politics that divide us, let us unite through the bonds of our language, culture and our history.”

Mahalo e Kumu Hina.

I am compelled to encourage citizens to attend one of the remaining free workshops scheduled on Oahu. They are open to all. You will learn the songs, what the Hawaiian lyrics mean, and the tertiary kaona of the words. Kumu Hina’s manaʻo is inspiring and uplifting.

Schedule of Mele Workshops. Go!

125 years ago was not that long ago, Kumu Hina pointed out. When it was revealed at the workshop that I was the eldest person in the room, she said, “your grandparents’ generation.”

Yes, my maternal Chinese grandfather spoke Hawaiian, but his 15 children were forbidden to speak it in school. Unfortunately, I do not ʻōlelo either, but I love to sing Hawaiian songs.

ʻOnipaʻa kākou.

If you go ~ As I write this, the schedule of events for January 17, 2018, is flexible, except for the 10:45 a.m. raising of Hae Hawaiʻi at ʻIolani Palace, the exact time it was lowered and replaced by the American flag in 1893.

Enjoy Hawaiian choral music tonight

12 03 2016
Kawaiahao Church is on the corner of King and Punchbowl streets. A plaque describes its construction

Festival venue: Kawaiaha‘o Church, on the corner of King and Punchbowl streets.

Aloha studio fans!

I am excited to perform tonight in “Ke Ahe Lau Makani,” a festival of Hawaiian choral music with the Royal Hawaiian Band, and I invite to you come and enjoy. The downbeat is at 6 p.m. in the sanctuary of Kawaiaha‘o Church on King street across from city hall in Honolulu. There is no admission charge to attend.

I perform with Kawaiolaonāpūkanileo, the host choir. Usually a small a cappella ensemble, for tonight we invited other individual singers and groups to join in. They are:

The Hawaiian Chorus of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the Gioventu Musicale Ensemble of the Hawai‘i Youth Opera Chorus, and the Kawaiaha‘o Church Choir.

Indeed, it will be a joyous occasion to perform Hawaiian music written by famous composers of the past, namely Queen Lili‘uokalani, and contemporary composers and arrangers.

This year’s festival honors and celebrates Prince Jonah Kalaniana‘ole for his birthday, the late composer Haunani Bernardino who gifted the festival with its name, and the late Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell who was on the core committee that initiated the collection of Lili‘uokalani’s mele, culminated in the printing of The Queen’s Song Book.

When you come you will be treated to so much more story and translation of Hawai‘i’s past in a most historical setting. Please bring a friend with you to come and hear the music!

Hard-working festival personnel are: Phil Hidalgo, festival coordinator; Nola A. Nahulu, artistic director; Buddy Nalua‘i, organist; Wendy Chang, pianist; and Clarke Bright, band master of the Royal Hawaiian Band. Mahalo!

Moving forward in the new year

16 01 2016

Good morning, studio fans! This is my belated new-year message for 2016. It usually takes a while to get my ʻōkole in gear after the holidays and the lovely celebrations for my birthday in early January. Yesterday I was most inspired by the Royal Hawaiian Band concert at the palace grounds, where I walked after lunching with a friend in downtown Honolulu.

ʻIolani Palace grounds during the Friday noontime performance by the Royal Hawaiian Band draws an appreciative public

ʻIolani Palace grounds during the Friday noontime performance by the Royal Hawaiian Band draws an appreciative audience.

The program featured the music of Liliʻuokalani in remembrance of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893. My friend Malia is the Band’s soloist, and I was glad to hear her sing. She is a phenomenal vocalist. What a gift she has. The entire program was very uplifting. I awoke this morning with the tunes in my head and a vow to keep music in my life; learn or practice something new every day. Reminder number one!

Reminder number two: Take time to socialize with others and make friends, especially as I grow older, to keep my attitude and perspective in check. Besides, it’s fun! Becky, the friend I lunched with (she is like a sister to me)  listened as I inventoried my current health issues (I go in for an annual physical around my birthday). I thought she was being sympathetic, but being younger, she said her interest was in learning what problems she might expect for herself in the future. Humph. We had a good laugh over that one!

Reminder number three plus: Be aware of teachable moments and be kind. In Hawaiʻi, Sovereignty Sunday (remembering the overthrow) coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Miss Marvelous, 6, is in first grade and reads now, lending to interesting conversations between grandparent and grandchild. For example, she reported that she is learning “mindfulness” in school. The other day she asked me, “Am I white?” to which I countered, “What do you mean?”

Big sigh. “You know, a long time ago, maybe the Russians and the Germans couldn’t marry. I’m talking about ancient history,” the child said. “And that King!” Clearly she wanted an answer, and I almost forgot the original question.

I’m drawn to her (my) confusion. King Kamehameha? King Kalākaua?

“Papa, help us out here.”

DH offers, “Martin Luther King?”
Ohhh… (lightbulb)…

“Well, Ayla, if you are asking about the color of your skin or descending from Caucasoids, then yes, you are White,” I said.

Judging the expression on her face, I detected it was a complicated issue in her mind, as she lost interest and ran off to play, as I hoped she would hear me say, “Peoples’ skins on the outside are different colors, but on the inside our hearts are the same.”

As I mused, if she is white, what am I: brown? yellow? beige?

(Copyright 2016 Rebekah Luke)

Wonderful experience of opera

28 10 2014


Aloha! Ticket information is now posted for the premiere of Emalani 2 in Honolulu! It is my first-ever, up-close-and-personal experience with opera. This wonderful work in both Hawaiian and English was composed by Herb Mahelona with the Hawaiian chant text from He Lei No ‘Emalani edited by Puakea Nogelmeier.

The opera is about the second half of the life of Hawai‘i’s Queen Emma, her life after the death of her husband Alexander Liholiho (Kamehameha IV) and their son Albert Edward Kauikeaouli. The first part of her life was performed two summers ago in Mahelona’s ‘Emalani. Both operas were commissioned for the Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus.

So, it is a youth opera with the principal characters played and sung by talented young people. By serendipity, I am singing in the chorus. You can see in the flyer above the amount of collaboration and support there is for this event.

My excitement comes from hearing the music itself and singing it, from reading the book (the lyrics) that is biographical, and from the thrill of realizing what a magnificent and delightful short-hand learning tool opera can be. I am enjoying studying Mahelona’s composition skill and how he structured the music. Hooray for ʻōlelo makuahine and the English translations. I am very thankful for the chance to learn from this type of art.

There are rehearsals in music and dance happening all over town right now. ‘Emalani 2 is quite an undertaking. Just one choral practice remains for the group I rehearse with before the combined “tech/dress” in St. Andrews Cathedral on performance day. I heard the cast numbers more than 100, and that the production of 10 scenes will be staged as theater in the round. Can’t wait! Nola A. Nahulu is the artistic director, and Mathias Maas is the stage director.

Here is Queen Emma’s prayer that I like, excerpted from Scene 2:

God give me courage beyond my own to venture on to a path unknown,
Vision beyond my sight to see each step in thy light.
God give me wisdom beyond my years to speak with firmness in spite of fears,
To live for all to see, to leave a legacy,
Fill my heart with love ever true, my race to bless, thy will to do.
God give me patience and clarity to trust in things I cannot see,
that when my work is done, I will see my husband and my son.

(from ‘Emalani by Herb Mahelona)

Copyright 2014 Rebekah Luke

Mālama pono

2 07 2014

Conflicted, I wasn’t planning to submit a comment to the U. S. Department of Interior. But now I think I will. Based on something like this:

The most welcoming group of strangers I’ve met, the one that made me feel like I was coming home, were the card-carrying citizens of Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i, a name that translates to “the Hawaiian nation,” although for the time being this group is described as “a native initiative for sovereignty.”

I met them in January 1993, the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani and the Hawaiian monarchy, when my hanai father—RIP David A. Sinclair, MD, yes, the same who delivered Barack Obama—pointed out a small article in the Washington Post about a movement being led by Mililani Trask, then the kia‘āina (governor). “Isn’t this something you should be involved in?” Because I’m Hawaiian.

Some activity was taking place at ‘Iolani Palace for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I was drawn to a small tent identified with a banner reading “Ho‘omakaukau” — let’s get ready — on the lawn of the Library of Hawaii next door. Keali‘i Gora, a nokali (registrar) and the lukanela (lieutenant), enrolled me as a citizen of Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i. I took an oath. He and others gave out educational materials and information about the meeting, and it was the one organizing the peaceful march to the Palace.

That was the beginning of my involvement and the first of many meetings—district council meetings, island caucus meetings, legislative meetings, town hall meetings, constitutional conventions. I helped as a district officer and attended the legislative meetings, not as a delegate but out of interest and support.

I learned that Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i has a de facto government with a written constitution that was part of the educational materials for the people. Toward the end of Mililani Trask’s last term as kia‘āina (an elected position), at a church in Keaukaha, I witnessed her and Lilikalā Kameʻeleihiwa outline the Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i master plan document for sovereignty. It was a beautiful thing, entitled “Ho‘okupu a Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi” (respectful offering to all).

My active involvement that was a big chunk out of my life included almost a decade as the executive director of Hale Kūʻai Cooperative that marketed Native Hawaiian made products—a small but significant economic development effort for Hawaiians.

Life happens and time passes, and Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i became inactive. Now other political forces have caused us to gather again, because of the Department of Interior meetings. The day before yesterday a parallel discussion began: whether to reconvene the Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i mokuna (legislature). It is an opportunity for an initiative that had at one time a reportedly 22,000 citizens living in the Hawaiian Islands and elsewhere on its rolls. To those expressing “No” to the Department of Interior’s questions, what next? Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i is an option.

For now, Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i citizens are attaching their names at the bottom of comments to the questions currently being asked by the Department of Interior as posed in the Federal Register. They say “No,” but more importantly, Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi citizens are reminding the Department and all of us that it already has a Constitution, a Master Plan, and a platform on the Four Arenas of Sovereignty that further describes and defines four political arenas: native to native, native to nation/state, the international arena, and nation to nation.

I believe those documents will be attached and filed with the Department of Interior. They are very comprehensive and worth another read. The answer to “What do Hawaiians want?” is not as simple as the question, but the prior work of Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i ought not to be discounted, for there one can read some thoughtful answers.

When I first associated with Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i, I was embarrassed because I hadn’t learn much Hawaiian language (and still haven’t and I’m still embarrassed). I admitted, once as we were leaving an evening meeting, “I need to look the words up in the dictionary.” Two friendly young women said, “That’s okay!”

I asked, “How do you say goodbye? What is it that you are saying?”

They slowly pronounced every syllable for me. “A hui hou. Mālama pono!” Meaning, “See you again. Do the right thing.”

I personally want to do the right thing, but I don’t know what that is. I’ll at least point Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i citizens, honorary citizens, and would-be citizens to “Ho‘okupu a Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i” where we left off.

Copyright 2014 Rebekah Luke


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