Hawai’i’s past history and lore revisited

Established on the lush, and volcanic western slopes of the Big Island, Coffee Times owner, Les Drent, roasted, and sold his first pound of Kona coffee in 1993. Five years later, Les moved his Coffee Times roasting operation to the beautiful island of Kauai, and established the Blair Estate shade grown, organic coffee farm in 2001. While his passion for farming is now deeply rooted in the Kauai soil, he continues to be a strong proponent for the preservation of 100% Kona coffee.

Hawai’i’s past history and lore revisited
By: Lois Ann Ell

June 12, 2012

One of the most renowned cultural myths of Hawai’i is that of Pele—the Goddess of the volcanoes—who is often seen as powerful and sometimes wrathful in many stories and lore of the past. Recently, one Hawai’i author retold one of the original tales about Pele, as if she were living in current day. The author is Darien Gee; the story is titled, “Pele in Therapy.” It is one of many updated legends in the recently released anthology, “Don’t Look Back: Hawaiian Myths Made New.”

Don't Look Back: Hawaiian Myths Made New Christine Thomas (Author, Editor)

Gee, who lives on the big island of Hawai’i, recently visited Kaua’i to launch the anthology and discuss the craft of writing at an event sponsored by Kaua’i Backstory, an online literary journal. Sixteen authors are featured in the anthology, including poet laureate W.S. Merwin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Ian Macmillan and more, who wrote about a range of Hawaiian myths surrounding geckos, the Naupaka plant, the famous God Maui, or the Menehune. Gee chose to explore the story of Pele. Gee explains why she chose Pele in the forward to her story:

Even today, Pele is a goddess who is alive and well. She’s not a bedtime story of the past, but very much in our present. Every day on the island of Hawai’i, we see evidence of her and her ability to transform the land on which we walk. (p.33)

Writing about Hawaiian myths is a change for the author, who writes commercial women’s fiction; her latest novel, “Friendship Bread” was a national bestseller. During a discussion at the event on Kaua’i, she was asked about how it was to write about such an important figure in Hawaiian culture in a modern way. Gee explained that she saw her writing and reinterpretation of Pele as a way to honor her and to keep the stories alive.

Humehume of Kaua`i: A Boy's Journey to America, an Ali`i's Return Home Warne Douglas (Author)

Another piece of Hawaiian culture was revived lately on Kaua’i as well, although this story is historical, and it was not revived in a book but on stage. The tragic story of Prince Humehume of Kaua’i—King Kaumuali’i’s son—was retold by the students of Kanuikapono Public Charter School at the Performing Arts Center at Kaua’i Community College.

The theatrical performance was based on the book by Douglas Warne titled, “Prince Humehume of Kaua’i: A boy’s journey to America, an Ali’i’s return home.” Warne wrote the story of the young prince of Kaua’i who was sent to America as a young boy to learn western ways so he could better lead his people once his father, King Kaumuali’i passed on the leadership. However once Humehume reached the East Coast of the United States after a tumultuous few years at sea, his custodian ran out of money and abandoned him, leaving the young prince discarded into poverty. It wasn’t until years later, as an adult that Humehume was reunited with his family and island, after years of struggle and navigating his way through a foreign land.

Author Warne wrote the book years ago, and was honored that his work was being brought to the stage in an innovative way. He flew over from O’ahu to watch the performance on Kaua’i, and was signing his book at the event.

The anthology Gee is part of can be found online at amazon.com and Warne’s book on Humehume is sold through Kamehameha Publishing.

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Categories: History & Culture, Religion, Myth & Legend |

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