Aloha spirit comes to Pasi­fika

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By KARINA ABADIA

Aulii Mitchell has Hawai­ian hula in his blood.

He was just 6 when his great-grand­fa­ther, grand­fa­ther and mother started teach­ing him the tra­di­tional dance and his pas­sion for it has only grown since then.

Hula orig­i­nated in Hawaii and is of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by tra­di­tional mu­sic. Hand mo­tions are used to rep­re­sent the words in a song or chant.

It re­lates to tales of love, war, trav­els and the won­der and beauty of the Hawai­ian Is­lands, Mr Mitchell says.

‘‘It’s spe­cial to me be­cause it’s my iden­tity. It’s who I am. It’s why I was put here on this earth.’’

Mr Mitchell is ex­cited to be the vil­lage co-or­di­na­tor and cul­tural ad­viser for the in­au­gu­ral Hawai­ian vil­lage at Pasi­fika Fes­ti­val 2014 at West­ern Springs Park this week­end.

The cul­ture has been rep­re­sented at the fes­ti­val for about the past 10 years but it was pre­vi­ously in­cor­po­rated into other vil­lages.

Tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary hula will be on dis­play on the day, in­clud­ing per­for­mances from dance schools through­out the North Is­land.

The Mt Al­bert res­i­dent is study­ing Hawai­ian hula for a masters pro­gramme in ap­plied in­dige­nous knowl­edge at Te Wananga O Aotearoa.

The hula group he teaches, Halau O Moananuiakiwa, will per­form at the fes­ti­val.

Around 20 tra­di­tional prac­ti­tion­ers of Hawai­ian arts are com­ing to Auck­land for the event. Ac­tiv­i­ties range from the art of lei mak­ing, bam­boo stamp print­ing and learn­ing how to pre­pare the Hawai­ian sta­ple of poi. It’s made by mix­ing wa­ter with taro root which is boiled and then pounded to make a paste.

On the hour those in­volved in the vil­lage will per­form a chant of grat­i­tude and hand a sheet out so vis­i­tors can take part.

‘‘It’s a chant to come to­gether and cel­e­brate as well as to give thanks to our an­ces­tors and the gods,’’ he says.

There will also be food stalls with Hawai­ian fruit, smooth­ies and yo­ghurt and craft booths sell­ing goods such as shell neck­laces and ear­rings, bags, T-shirts and hula gar­ments. It’s all about aloha, Mr Mitchell says.

‘‘Aloha is that spirit of who we are, where we come from. It dwells in our spirit. It means love, hello, good­bye, pas­sion­ate, grat­i­tude – it means so much,’’ the 53-year-old says.

The most com­mon mis­con­cep­tion peo­ple have about Hawai­ians is that they are west­ern­ised, he says.

‘‘We don’t iden­tify with West­ern life. We are very much our own peo­ple.’’

There may not be many Hawai­ian peo­ple liv­ing here but the di­ver­sity of other cul­tures is en­rich­ing, he says.

‘‘The ex­pe­ri­ence of form­ing re­la­tion­ships with my Pa­cific cousins and other cul­tures that are here is re­ally spe­cial.’’

Photo: KARINA ABADIA

In­au­gu­ral vil­lage: Aulii Mitchell is look­ing for­ward to show­cas­ing his cul­ture in the Hawai­ian Vil­lage at Pasi­fika Fes­ti­val this week­end.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour news.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to watch a hula dance per­for­mance.

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