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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 20, 2006

Conference a first for Isles' 4 royal societies

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

The four Hawaiian royal benevolent societies will gather for a first-ever statewide convention at the Ala Moana Hotel this weekend to discuss where they've been, where they are and where they're going.

Age-old traditions dictate that much of what they do is to be shrouded in secrecy. All four groups were founded by ali'i, the ruling chiefs, are steeped in history, and share a common goal of perpetuating the Hawaiian culture and traditions.

The four groups are the Royal Order of Kamehameha I and its sister organization, Na Wahine Hui O Kamehameha I; the 'Ahahui Ka'ahumanu; the Hale O Na Ali'i of Hawai'i; and the Daughters and Sons of Hawaiian Warriors, also known as Mamakakaua.

About 200 people are expected to attend.

William Souza, an ali'i with the Royal Order of Kamehameha, said all four organizations were created to be "the unbroken historical link to our cultural past," and to pass on that knowledge to the current and future generations of Hawaiians.

"We're carrying on that tradition," Souza said.

Hailama Farden, state president of Hale O Na Ali'i O Hawai'i, said that in the past, the organizations focused on their own work without paying too much attention to what the others were doing.

"I think a lot of our members themselves don't know too much about the other organizations," Farden said.

The conference will be an opportunity to share that kind of information, he said.

Delegates to the conference are also expected to discuss their role in today's society, as well as the future.

While the royal societies have not taken strong public stands on political issues since the overthrow, "lately, we've realized sometimes we have to because we're expected to be the leaders in our community," Farden said.

Five people are being honored by the societies tomorrow for their contributions toward the preservation of the cultural heritage of Hawai'i.

Among those scheduled to be honored with a Kalaniali'i Award is 'Anakala Eddie Ka'anana, who died on Sunday. Ka'anana is to be honored as a "treasured skilled fisherman and Hawaiian language educator."

The others to be honored by the societies at the 'Aha Hipu'u Conference at the Ala Moana Hotel tomorrow night are:

  • Dr. Isabella Abbott, world authority on limu, author and botanist.

  • The Rev. Samuel Saffery, longtime Hawaiian spiritual leader.

  • Auntie Charlotte Clarke, respected elder and accomplished feather weaver.

  • Auntie Venus Holt, honored centenarian, kupuna and educator.

    Tomorrow night's dinner is open to the public. Cost is $60. Call Farden at (808) 383-5868 to place a reservation.

    Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at gpang@honoluluadvertiser.com.