My roundup of three not exceedingly recent but still fresh Hawaiian Culture titles appeared 5/27/07 in the Honolulu Advertiser, offering a look at Hawaiian warrior arts, Native Hawaiian Culture, and Hawai`i’s ranching past.
Na Kua’aina: Living Hawaiian Culture
By Davianna Pomaika`i McGregor
UH Press; 372 pages; $TK
Unabashedly personal but also firmly academic, Davianna McGregor’s treatise on sustaining Native Hawaiian culture, Na Kua’aina: Living Hawaiian Culture contends that its continuation depends upon a subsistence lifestyle that protects land and resources. Propelled by her profound realization upon a 1980’s trip to Kaho`olawe that she “was the typical single-minded urban Hawaiian academic, bent on getting where I wanted to go, but completely out of balance with the natural forces around me,” she has aimed this text and her general academic work towards perpetuation of the worldview and lifestyle of the kua`aina, whom she defines as “the keepers of Hawai`i’s sacred lands who are living Hawaiian culture.”
Knowledge passed on orally comprises a significant portion of the book, alongside researched historical statistics and records, such as Mahele documents. This mo`olelo not only underscores the value of continued documentation of oral histories, but also infuses the book’s scholarly boundaries with spiritual, agricultural, political and personal histories, enabling McGregor to fashion a more holistic portrait of the kua`aina and the cultural kipuka they protect.
Through oli, testimony, legend, and other ancestral knowledge, McGregor explores case studies of traditional life and land use in Waipio and Puna on the Big Island; Hana, Maui; Moloka`i; and Kaho`olawe; her personal connection to these wahi pana are detailed at the end. For McGregor, stewardship of the land is the source of Native Hawaiian identity, and her edifying tribute goes far to illumine the kua`aina as the backbone that ensures the endurance of Native Hawaiians today.
Warrior Arts and Weapons of Ancient Hawaii
By Sid Campbell
Blue Snake Books; 266 pages; $39.95
“Few Westerners realize,” Sid Campbell writes in the opening to Warrior Arts and Weapons of Ancient Hawaii “that the Hawai`ians [sic] were as warlike as any Polynesian culture.” This first sentence offers the initial intimation of Campbell’s sincere appreciation for Hawaiian culture, but the dubious misperception alongside the misplaced ‘uwina also reveals his malihini perspective.
While anyone interested in warrior traditions will welcome the book’s clear structure, capable writing, and thorough and detailed examination of weapons and tactics, its tone addresses those with limited to no knowledge of Hawaiian culture and history. This pitch is underscored by inclusion of a general time line of recent Hawaiian history and a sole case study on Kamehameha I’s battles to conquer the Islands.
A mainland resident and Japanese martial arts authority who has been inducted into the Hawai`i Martial Arts International Society’s Hall of Fame, Campbell is undeniably knowledgeable and respectful. His research extended beyond the Bishop Museum to include instruction from expert Lua Olohe, and he perceives Hawaiian weaponry as communicating the history of what he terms “a proud and noble culture.” In an impressive ten-year effort, he painted 50 of the book’s 179 illustrations helps capture the mystique of Hawai`i’s warrior past. It’s this earnest and detailed demonstration of his passion for the subject that facilitates the book’s commendable achievements.
Loyal to the Land: The Legendary Parker Ranch, 1950-1970: Volume 2, The Senior Stewards
By Dr. Billy Bergin
UH Press; 312 pages; $39.95
The second volume of Bergin’s now classic documentation of Parker Ranch picks up where it left off, but limits its scope to twenty years of recent history instead of Volume One’s sweeping 1200 years. Focused on 1950-1970, Bergin illuminates the reigns of three senior stewards who shaped the ranch’s modern existence: Hartwell Carter, the son of A. W. Carter, credited with bringing the ranch into modernity and increasing its herd by 50 percent; Carter’s assistant, Dick Penhallow and his ambitious improvement goals; and Rally Greenwell’s growth initiatives infused with traditional values gleaned from his own family’s Kona ranching history.
This is a period where the three mangers sought to make the ranch “bigger and better” while honoring the needs of the ranch profit center, the Hawai`i Meat Company. Bergin’s detailed history is punctuated by letters, photos and illustrations and concludes with a focused exploration of the ranch Animal Health Program. Profiles of field leaders and the inclusion of events in paniolos’ own words expand credit not only to the stewards but the team of individuals who carried the ranch successfully through the years.
Bergin has long been complemented on his reverent yet neutral chronicling of the powerful ranch he served for over twenty-five years, as an employee during Hartwell Carter’s management and ranch veterinarian during Greenwell’s. That “Loyal to the Land” is also his history helps impart to the narrative the intimacy of memoir alongside the intrigue of a factual exploration of past eras.