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2008 HA'AKOA CONFERENCE

Summary and Results

2008 COMMITTEE:  In 2008, in an attempt to help provide clarity on the issue of a masculine cultural protocol, the Royal Order of Kamehameha, Heiau o Māmalahoa, organized a committee that was tasked to research the ha‘a, its validity, viablity, and potential positive impact on the Hawaiian community. 

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
The Committee was made up of varies kahuna and cultural practitioners:
         
          Dr. Kimo Alameda – Psychologist and cultural practitioner
          Cy Bridges – Kumu Hula and cultural expert
          Pua Ishibashi – Lua practitioner 
          Sky Ishibashi – Lua and Hula practitioner 
          Keani Kaeimamahu – Olohe Lua
          Paul Neves – Kumu Hula
          Chadd Paishon – Polynesian voyaging canoe navigator
          Dr. Kalena Silva – Kumu Hula and Hawaiian language expert
          La‘akea Suganuma – Olohe Lua
          Ramsey Taum – Olohe Lua
          Kahikili Ursua – Kumu Hula and Olohe Lua


The committee was tasked to address the following specific questions:
 

  • Did ancient Hawaiians have a pre-battle protocol similar to the Maori Haka?

  • If Hawaiians had such a protocol, what was it called?

  • If Hawaiians had such a protocol, who knows it today?

  • If someone knows this protocol, who are they, and would they be willing to share it?

  • In the alternative, if we did have such a protocol, but it has been lost, should we

       restore such a protocol?

  • If the Ha‘a was restored, should there be any concerns or conditions?

  • If we were to restore such a protocol, how should we do this and what would it look like?

After research and much discussion between committee members, as well as outside resources, the above questions were addressed as summarized below:
 

  • As a warrior society, it can only be assumed that Hawaiians, like other Polynesians, practiced pre-battle protocols to unify and empower themselves before conflict.  However, exactly what those protocols may have been are no longer known today, such ancient protocols have been lost to history.  The loss of this 

       protocol was attributed to two historical events: (1) The unification of the Islands by Kamehameha
       and
absence of war and (2) The dismantling of the Kapu System and Hawaiian Religion.   

       Consequently, all Haka like protocols practiced in Hawai‘i today are recognized as modern day
       creations with varying 
degrees of cultural competency.

  • Strong masculine cultural protocols are needed and would benefit the Lāhui today.  As such, there is a need to restore these traditional protocols once practiced by our kūpuna.  However, such protocols must be restored in a culturally competent manor, that is, they must be uniquely Hawaiian in every way, this    includes language, movement, and ‘ike.  In addition, since all things are now noa, restored masculine cultural protocols should not be associated with any of the gods (namely Kū) of the ancient Hawaiian religion.

  • There are no recognized traditional names for the masculine cultural protocols that are being discussed. The most common words/terms currently used are Ha‘a or ‘Ai Ha‘a referring to a low bent knee style of dance. However, this word/term does not capture the warrior nature and intent of the masculine cultural protocol that are being discussed.  As such, there is a need for a culturally competent name/term to describe this masculine protocol.  It was discussed and agreed that that the term Ha‘akoa, where ha‘a means low bent knee dance, and koa means warrior, would be an appropriate name/term for this protocol moving forward.  Ha‘akoa, the low bent knee dance of the warrior, or simply, dance of the warrior. 

2008 CONFERENCE:  Given the cultural significance of the Committee's report, it was decided that this information must be shared with the Lāhui.  Accordingly, Māmalahoa sponsored the first ever public discussion on this issue.  The Ha‘akoa Conference took place on March 26, 2008 at the University of Hawai‘i - Hilo.  The theme of the Conference was "Discovering the Hawaiian Haka"  The Conference was designed to educate individuals on the Ha‘akoa, its history, benefits, and potential applications today, as well as teach participants a basic Ha‘akoa.  Over one hundred and fifty kāne and a few wāhine participated in this event.

The Ha‘akoa Conference was followed by a series of Ha‘akoa workshops in 2009 that were taught by original Committee members (Sky Ishibashi, Pua Ishibashi, and Kimo Alameda).  The workshops were held at Hilo High School.  Workshops were open to the public and focused on educating individuals regarding the benefits and applications of the Ha‘akoa and learning a simple Ha‘akoa hakued by Sky Ishibsashi.
 

A short time later, Sky, Pua, and Kimo were invited to present on the Ha‘akoa at the 2010 ‘Aha Kāne Conference held on ‘Oahu.

2019 CONFERENCE:  For 2019, Māmalahoa will be hosting the second decennial Haakoa Conference with the theme "Today's Innovations - Tomorrow's Traditions." The Conference will take place on March 26, 2019 at Kamehameha Schools Keaau.  To register for the Conference please CLICK here.