WWV Protocol Training: Reflections from Crew Member Maui Tauotaha
Kaʻiwakīloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center, Kamehemeha Schools Kapālama, Honolulu (April 20, 2013) — As I walk into the Hale Mana, I notice Uncle Pinky’s prayer at the entrance. Directly above us is the Kaupoku, or “ridgepole,” which is partly lashed with coconut sennit from Papa Mau. It is comforting to see and feel these two kūpuna present during our first protocol training for the Worldwide Voyage.
We stand in a circle around the star compass and introduce ourselves. I try to introduce myself in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and am later reminded to use the “O Maui koʻu inoa” instead of “O wau Maui” during formal introductions.
Following introductions we move to the Māweke Moʻolelo room and sit amidst pictures of past voyages. We are reminded of the people and places Hōkūleʻa and her crew has touched across the Pacific. One day soon, this will be us.
What is “proper protocol?” Our alakaʻi describe protocol a number of ways and what sticks with me most are the values: respect, gratitude and humility. When we visit these places around the world we will be guests. The reason we practice protocol is in hopes of being “good guests” by treating our hosts in a manner that makes them feel good about hosting us. One of the examples given to us centers around food: whenever we are offered food, we should eat it, even if we don’t want to for any reason. Refusing food from a host is disrespectful. The sharing and enjoyment of food is a good practice that crosses cultural boundaries.
In the Papa Hoʻomākaukau ʻAi we learn and practice a pule specifically composed by one of our alakaʻi, Pueo. According to Pueo, “this general prayer of gratitude is intended to be acceptable by people of broad ranges of faith in seeking blessings of protection and enlightenment.” Pueo is a vibrant teacher and aids us in memorizing our pule through visual cues.
We show respect to our hosts in many ways; one specific way we learn today is a “Mele Kāhea,” a chant requesting admittance, permission, and/or hospitality. “A technique employed in forms of mele kāhea seeks the hospitality of a host by strumming the chords of sympathy through humility and grace. To express hardships of exposure and travel displays humility; yet, to do so through oratory dignity exhibits grace.” This mele kāhea, also composed by Pueo, is taught through his visual cue technique.
Another example of protocol is the exchanging of gifts. We are encouraged to bring small gifts to share with our hosts. However, a gift need not be a material thing. A gift can also be given in the form of a mele, oli or hula. Our alakaʻi, Pueo, Keoni and Kaleo perform an oli and hula that we will hopefully learn in the near future and be able to share with our hosts.
We finish our day in the Hale ʻAha by singing “Hawaiʻi Aloha” and eating a meal of beef stew, rice, poi, and salad together. Mahalo to all who helped make this day happen.