King Lunalilo’s tomb was blessed with new kahili a few weeks ago as part of the King’s 175th birthday. These kahili were beautiful new additions to replace the old ones that were not in the greatest of shape after all of these years.
Apparently the making of the new kahili was orchestrated by Paulette Nohealani Kahalepuna which says to me that these kahili were not only crafted of feathers but that they were done correctly, carefully, and beautifully.
The gentleman pictured here on the left is Kamehameha Maertens. He is quite familiar with the kahili in King Lunalilo’s tomb. Back in 1938 an article in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin listed him as one of the kahili bearers back then. Mr. Maertens’ grandson took him to the new kahili event to celebrate Lunalilo’s 175th birthday on January 31st at the King’s tomb on the grounds of Kawaiaha’o Church.
That, in my opinion, is certainly something worth talking about — a man revisits a part of history that he himself was a part of. I’m not sure how many of us will be around long enough to see history repeat itself or to say we actually had a hand in it!
In the Star-Bulletin article, Kamehameha Maertens was listed incorrectly as a member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha. His first name may have been the reason for the reporter’s confusion but he was certainly an important part of the royal procession paying tribute to the memory of a man who was once a very popular monarch.
After all of those years gone by, I can’t help but wonder if he ever dreamed that his own grandchild would push for the preservation of the Hawaiian culture through the protection, perpetuation, and restoration of its treasured language. In case you can’t get into Facebook, here’s the meat of what’s on the other end of this link:
“After the unlawful overthrow of the Hawaiian government by white supremacists, four generations of Hawaiian people endured cultural genocide beginning in 1896 when the Hawaiian language was banned as a medium of public instruction. 30+ years have passed since the 1978 Hawai’i State Constitution nominally restored Hawaiian as an official language along with English, yet speakers of Hawaiian cannot vote using their language. Without public information readily available in Hawaiian, the current policy of English-only community services is indeed tantamount to ethnic cleansing! Will you please join with us to implement Hawai’i’s Official Languages Act to put this unfortunate era of cultural genocide against Hawaiian speaking people behind us for good?”
I’ve talked about this before and, while it is a touchy subject, most people will agree that it is a terrible thing to cut off a people from their own language. It is a wretched behavior for a country claiming to be “civilized.” Make no mistake about it, I’m an American and proud of it, but there are times when I just don’t know what we were thinking! But I digress.
There are quite a few of us who missed the Hawaiian-language boat in school and are now trying to learn. This is where Mr. Maertens’ grandson comes in. Michael Malulani Odegaard is trying to help us do just that. Some students are doing better than others. I have to admit that life, as usual, gets in the way of that too. Mahalo, Kumu, for all you do and for your infinite patience!
For those of you looking to learn ‘olelo Hawai’i or looking to brush up on your skills a little, there are small classes available on Wednesday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00 PM and Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 7:00 PM. Follow this link for more information about the Wednesday evening class and for contact information in case you have questions.
For those who try to call it a dead language, I’m very happy to let you know that you are sadly mistaken! It’s alive and well and getting stronger every day!
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