Hana hoʻolaʻa - Blessing protocol, Waikīkī
What is hana kupono (Hawaiian protocol)?

» It is the right behavior,
» conducted at the appropriate time,
» by the proper people,
» presented to the correct recipients,
» toward a positive and significant end.

Protocol almost always involves words, presented usually in the form of oli, or chant. Chant takes the power of words, themselves recognized as highly significant in Hawaiian and in many other cultures, and extends that power of words to a higher level that fulfills several functions:

1. It focuses the attention of all participants to the task at hand.
2. It evokes respect in the form of silence and attention on the part of the recipients.
3. It prepares the participants to engage seriously in what will follow.
4. It initiates a set of responses from those who know the protocol, and therefore sets into action a social process that unifies not only those who conduct the protocol but also all who are involved.
5. It transforms the mood from the mundane and ordinary into something deeper, sacred, and important.
6. It links all participants together and consolidates them into a unit.
7. It links the participants to their surroundings via an enhanced sense of place.
8. It expresses and confirms a living and vital Hawaiian culture, making each person a bit more appreciative of and more connected to these islands that we call home.

Protocol suggests that training and practice is involved, and indeed this is so. The practice is a traditional and oral one, with teachers passing the proper and expected behaviors to their students. Students and teachers in turn practice protocol with each other and develop comfort at conducting themselves in very specific ways that often demand exactly the right words and actions in a prescribed sequence.

Proper behavior and words are highly dependent on the situation, for example, the protocol for greeting a person of significance is different from the protocol of entry to a significant site, and different from the protocol for presentation of an offering or gift.

Whatever the situation, protocol is based on a foundation of values that are important to everyone, regardless of their ancestry and upbringing. These are fundamentals such as respect for others and for the land, an attitude of sharing and responsibility for maintaining a balance between self and society and between human beings and the rest of the universe.

Kāhea protocol with Anakala Eddie Ka'anana

NOTE: I wrote the above for DOE teachers, who asked me to explain briefly why it was OK to teach their students Hawaiian chants. I was asked: "Isn't it pagan?" and "Isn't it inappropriate for non-Hawaiians?" The above has since appeared in several classroom and project curricula.

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Comment by ʻOhukaniʻōhiʻa on March 29, 2009 at 8:18pm
As this was posted as a blog elsewhere (Myspace), I am porting over comments received there:

Posted by Lana on Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - 6:13 AM
Kalani aka motuahina showed your blog to me and I like how non-condescending and helpful you are. I don't find that very often so thanks for informing and hope you don't mind if I read what you have to "say" as I strive to learn even more.

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