What is Hana Kupono (Hawaiian Protocol)?
by Samuel M. Ohukaniohia Gon III, Ph.D. Senior Scientist and Cultural Advisor,
The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii and consultant to MGF
It is the right behavior,
conducted at the appropriate time,
by the proper people,
presented to the correct recipients,
toward a positive and significant end.
Protocol almost always involves words, presented usually in the form of oli, or chant. Chant takes the power of words, themselves recognized as highly significant in Hawaiian and in many other cultures, and extends that power of words to a higher level that fulfills several functions:
- It focuses the attention of all participants to the task at hand.
- It evokes respect in the form of silence and attention on the part of the recipients.
- It prepares the participants to engage seriously in what will follow.
- It initiates a set of responses from those who know the protocol, and therefore sets into action a social process that unifies not only those who conduct the protocol but also all who are involved.
- It transforms the mood from the mundane and ordinary into something deeper and more important.
- It links all participants together and consolidates them into a unit.
- It links the participants to their surroundings via an enhanced sense of place.
- It expresses and confirms a living and vital Hawaiian culture, making each person a bit more appreciative of and more connected to these islands that we call home.
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