I Lei Aloha

ʻOhi ʻia me ka mana o ka ʻohana; wili ʻia me ka ʻike o nā kūpuna; hāʻawi ʻia wale ka lei o ke aloha i nā pua e hiki mai ana.

A lei of aloha is gathered by the hands of the community, woven with knowledge of the ancestors and shared freely with future generations.

ʻŌlelo Hōʻale – Hoʻoulu ʻĀina staff, Kanoa OʻConnor

As the rain pattered against the asphalt parking lot, volunteers tiptoed through muddy puddles, making their way to the lei workshop – one of Hoʻoulu ʻĀina’s monthly offerings.

The session was already in progress with popcorn orchid, bougainvillea, lauaʻe, song of india, pōhinahina, and lāʻī – a mix of native and non-native leaves and flowers – overflowing from foil pans.

There were skilled and beginning lei makers sitting side by side, hands vigorously winding raffia around lei materials as it was snugly secured to a lāʻī backing.

“Realistically, you can put anything inside it,” Darla Simeona, Community Wednesday Coordinator, giggled as she expertly wound a purple kale leaf into her lei.  “You can put kale, lavender – even parsley into it.”

Joy and laughter vibrated in the cramped room as volunteers transformed loose plant materials into beautiful lei.

An ʻukulele instrumental serenaded the group from an iPhone, and keiki donned rubber boots to jump in rain puddles in the flooded courtyard. 

“Lei is like food,” said Kaui Onekea who works for Roots and whose family has been lei makers for generations.

“You want to put a lot of love into making it.  You want to set your intentions right because your mana is going into that lei.”

At Hoʻoulu ʻĀina, we weave our lei of aloha to heal community, to acknowledge those who came before us, and to share openly that ʻike with future generations.