Hali‘a aloha Ryan Kalama
- Posted on 23 Oct 2013
- In Cultural
Kailua, Oʻahu &emdash; By Kim Ku‘ulei Birnie & Maya Saffery.
Among the welcoming party at Kailua Beach last Wednesday was a tall Hawaiian in a yellow kīhei. Kahu Ryan Kalama stood with other practitioners and community members in those opening ceremonies, and he was with us every day for the next 4 days.
And then he was gone. The next day our captains and crew learned that Ryan had left to join his ancestors.
We celebrate the time he spent with us and with Hōkūle‘a, and we know that he is with us still.
The Kalama family is one of the oldest Hawaiian families in Kailua. Both Ryan and his cousin Corbett Kamoa Kalama welcomed us on the beach Wednesday when we arrived and participated in the awa circle.
“He loved our culture and he loved our people,” remembers his cousin Kamoa. “His activities were more land-based, but welcoming Hōkūle‘a to Kailua was one way he could connect to the ocean.”
“In recent years,” Kamoa continues, “Ryan connected with places that called to him. One sacred place is Ulupō.”
Indeed, kahu Ryan became quite animated at Ulupō Heiau as he explained the significance of the site to several of our crew members Friday morning. Originally an agricultural heiau, re-dedicated by Kuali‘i during wartime as a luakini heiau, and more recently re-dedicated for peace and agriculture. He spoke as sitting president of Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club, co-curator of Ulupō Heiau.
“Ryan saw the potential in the upcoming worldwide voyage,” shares C. Lehuakona Isaacs, president of ‘Ahahui Mālama i ka Lōkahi, co-curator of Ulupō Heiau. “He had been through some stormy seas himself, but he believed that good things would happen and eventually he sailed out into the clear. His connection to the canoe was a personal one.”
Ryan, 58, was born to Richard and Connie Kalama, grew up in Kailua with his siblings and many cousins, attended Kailua High School and sang for the famous Kailua Madrigals before going away for several years. More recently he was living and teaching hula in Waimānalo. So, it wasn’t a surprise to see him greeting us at the beach in Waimānalo, and sharing the stage with our leadership Saturday afternoon.
‘Ohana Wa‘a joins the family, friends and colleagues of kahu Ryan Kalama with aloha nui for the loss of this gentle Hawaiian man who embraced the wa‘a and her crew with such warmth.