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True Life: A Hawaiian Experience

Updated on March 4, 2011

Lacey Ku'uipo Kressin

Hometown: Murrieta, CA
Hometown: Murrieta, CA

Hawaiians are some of the most courageous and inspiring people you will ever meet. Descended from a noble heritage, today they face innumerable obstacles as they attempt to preserve and perpetuate their cultural legacy. 

Six Hawaiians share a little about their culture and what it means to be Hawaiian.


Jacob Nihipali

Hometown: Hauula, Oahu, HI
Hometown: Hauula, Oahu, HI

What does being Hawaiian mean to you?

Lacey: Being proud of my heritage and what my ancestors accomplished and became as Hawaiians.

Jacob: It means being proud of your heritage and family values.

Pume: Being Hawaiian means everything to me! I am so proud to be a part of a culture that is so unique, it has the whole world wanting to have a piece of it! That's special. But what's even more special is that it's mine. As a native Hawaiian, the culture, the history, it all belongs to me, as it belongs to all other native Hawaiians.

Mana: Pono - righteous, just, goodness.

Vanessa: Being Hawaiian means a lot to me. Just learning about my genealogy and where my family came from helps me learn who I am as a Hawaiian.

Mark: Hawaiian is a concept of being pono and maoli. Being balanced and true. knowing how to balance being proud and humble at the same time. Accepting everyone for who they are, and encouraging them to be who they were meant to be. Knowing everything has a purpose. A time and place. Knowing my history, and the potential of my people. Knowing that change begins with myself. That my actions affect others. Knowing that reaching my potential will bless many, and falling short will only continue to handicap my people. Being Hawaiian is to "i mua". To endure to the end.

Pumehana Keolamauloa Ka'awa Galea'i

Hometown: Honolulu, O`ahu, HI
Hometown: Honolulu, O`ahu, HI

What is the best thing about Hawaii?

Lacey: I love the way Hawaiians are so open to having people over to eat and have a good time. It's the best!

Jacob: The financial aid. Oh, and being able to share our culture of 'real', not the fake aloha.

Pume: Everything!  All the elements of Hawaii combine to make it what it is. Take away one thing, and it wouldn't be the same. Hawaii is the best!

Mana: The People, the spirit...the beach!

Vanessa: I think the best thing about Hawaii is the food, but more so I think it is to know that I have heaps of families here that love me.

Mark: The best thing is that a higher percentage of the people who live here are brought up with those values. Of being balanced and true. And most others are striving to seek for them. And we're always willing to help others in their search for truth. The best part is the people. We're tight, we love each other, we carry each other.

Mataumu Manaikaponoonalani Alisa

Hometown: Pa'auilo, Big Island, HI
Hometown: Pa'auilo, Big Island, HI

What do you wish people knew before they visited Hawaii?

Lacey: I wish they knew more about the Hawaiian people and the history of Hawaii and its indigenous people. Too many people come here thinking it’s all about aloha shirts, coconut bras and pineapples. Hawaii is a completely different place from the mainland!

Jacob: That it is the most beautiful place to VISIT. It is expensive because we pay for our outdoor swimming pools.

Pume: I wish they were educated about my people. I wish they knew how intelligent and innovative we were. I wish they would want to know.

Mana: Its History is what people should know before they go there so they can have a better appreciation for the Land, the people, and the culture.

Vanessa: I wish when people come here that they would be less educated about Hawaii and more willing to accept whatever goes on here in Hawaii and understand the culture fully. If they are educated make sure that they are able to have correct current facts to what’s going on in Hawaii.

Mark: I wish they knew our history as a people. I wish they were educated in the story of Hawai'i. Maybe then, they wouldn't be so ignorant and hold themselves above us. Maybe then they would understand the struggles of our people. That we are no longer those "care-free natives," laughing, and singing under cocoa palms. That we have serious problems. Health, drugs, alcohol, prison, homelessness, family abuse, and hopelessness. I wish they knew that, and didn't come and leave with the impression that Hawaiians don't need help. Because we do. We need good educations and hope.

Vanessa Miulan Keomailani Cummings

Hometown: Laie, O`ahu, HI
Hometown: Laie, O`ahu, HI

If you could share one aspect of Hawaiian culture with the world, what would it be?

 Lacey: Hula. I love dancing hula. Each dance conveys a story, and dancing hula is such a beautiful way to tell it. Hula reminds me of my ancestors. 

Jacob: The real meaning of Aloha, (which in my mind) means to give without ever expecting a return, while at the same time, knowing that the person you helped is grateful and will not ruin your gift. (Like turn their back and sell your land.)

Pume: Aloha. And not the Hello and GoodBye and I love you, but the real LOVE. Hawaiians had love for everything. Because of that they took the time to observe, to watch, to learn the value and importance of all things. Nothing was taken for granted. It's a principle that is so hard to obtain, but the Hawaiians tried to master it. We should try to do the same

Mana: The Aloha Spirit!!

Vanessa: Charity. I don’t know where you can find charity anywhere else. People here are consistently helping others daily. I love how people care no matter who you are or what you are. We have people here that are willing to sacrifice their time to help others.

Mark: I'd share aloha. Pure love, unconditional love. Looking past skin, lineage, and money. But looking into someone's na'au. Their soul. And loving them for who THEY are, where THEY come from, and who THEY want to be. If the world could understand this concept, the world would be cured of most of it's problems. I wish the world could understand this. I wish Hawaiians could be better practicers of it also. But like I said, change begins with me. Maybe I, need to practice aloha a little better also.

Mark Edward Uluhani Serrao

Hometown: 'Aiea, O`ahu, HI
Hometown: 'Aiea, O`ahu, HI

"Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Aina i ka Pono"
(The Life of the Land is perpetuated in Righteousness)

-King Kamehameha III


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