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Responding to a Need

Baseline Information: 

  1. Anciently, our kūpuna practiced kāne (masculine) protocols associated with war, the war god Kū, and the Hawaiian religion.

  2. Peace and cultural transformation resulted in the practice of these warrior protocols being abandoned and in time forgotten.

  3. Today, there are no Haʻakoa (dance of the warrior) that have survived from ancient times.

  4. There is a need for Haʻakoa today, a cultural protocol that exemplifies the warrior spirit. 

  5. There is a need for more masculine (Kū) energy to balance the feminine (Hina) energy currently dominating the Hawaiian culture today.  

  6. Beginning in the mid-70s, many Hawaiian organizations have incorporated Haʻakoa into their respective organizations and the Lāhui in general.

  7. All Haʻakoa practiced today are modern day innovations with various degrees of cultural competency.

  8. An exemplary Haʻakoa such as Eia Hawaiʻi may, in time, be considered a Traditional Cultural Protocol (see below).

Today’s Innovation, Tomorrow’s Tradition:
The study of tradition is a subject of various academic fields in social science including anthropology, archaeology, and biology.  According to sociologists, three things are necessary to make a practice a tradition:  (1) A large number of people must participate in the practice or recognize and accept what it is.  (2) The practice must be passed down from one generation to another.  (3) The practice must honor, respect, or acknowledge the past. In addition, most sociologists believe a practice must be carried on for at least 3 consecutive generations before it can be considered a tradition.  Note:  A generation of time is considered to be 25 years.  As such, what may be considered an innovation today may be considered a tradition in as little as 75 years.

Given the above, it is extremely important that Haʻakoa developed today are done in a culturally competent manner.  We must insure the cultural integrity of today's Haʻakoa, because today's innovations may become tomorrow's traditional cultural protocols.

Manaʻo from Dr. Kanahele:

The words and manaʻo of Dr. George Kanahele is insightful here as we press forward with cultural innovations, that may one day become cultural traditions.


“Understand, therefore, that the Renaissance does not mean a literal rebirth of classical Hawaiian traditions, dances, chants and so forth.  To believe otherwise is to make a fetish out of tradition.  We've lost too much already.  Who knows, for example, what a truly traditional, pre-1778 chant sounds like? And even if we did, could anyone recreate it exactly?  Who would want to anyway?  Creative artists are not mindless copycats.  They strive to express their own selves and their own time.  Consequently, today's chants are not the same as those of 1778.  They are different, but yet they still retain some identifiable characteristics that we can call Hawaiian.  What precisely are those characteristics, those standards by which we judge what is artistically and culturally honest, are sometimes questionable. Sometimes they lead to arguments.  And, God knows, we have a lot of arguments among Hawaiians. Maybe that, too, is evidence of dynamic culture.  I don't know.  At any rate, while we try to insist on certain standards of cultural integrity and authenticity, we must realize the historical reality of inevitable change.  Thus, in our efforts to rediscover our roots, to reaffirm our heritage, to revive our past, we cannot always be too clear about precisely what we are rediscovering, reaffirming, or reviving.  It may well be that much, if not most, of what we are reviving is new traditions that look like old traditions."

                               Kanahele, G.S. (1979). The Hawaiian Renaissance.

Given the manaʻo of Dr Kanahele, let us press forward with cultural competence as best we know and can.  At the very least, let us not incorporate words and movements that do not appear to be Hawaiian into our Haʻakoa.  Let us not blindly follow what other innovators have done, but insure that what we create, incorporate, and perpetuate, are truly and uniquely HAWAIIAN. 
Guidelines have been created to assist kānaka as they haku Haʻakoa.

Today’s Haʻakoa:

Though Haʻakoa celebrate Hawaii’s proud warrior heritage and the virtues of strength and honor, they are not associated with war, the ancient Hawaiian religion, or death, and darkness.  Instead, today’s Haʻakoa represent life and light and are designed to unify, empower, and uplift individuals, groups, communities, and the Lāhui. 

Today's Haʻakoa are cultural innovations that in time may be recognized as traditional cultural protocols.  As such, it is extremely important that Haʻakoa developed today are done in a culturally competent manner.  

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