Photos by Sam Finnegan
Pepperdine’s Hawai’i Club successfully hosted their 18th Annual Lu’au, taking place on the Intramural Field on Friday, March 23. The sold-out lu’au brought a piece of Hawaiian culture to the Pepperdine campus.
“Culture is a very important aspect of the world that I think a lot of people tend to shirk or ignore, especially cultures that aren’t their own. What most people don’t realize is the most beautiful thing isn’t basking in your own culture, but sharing it with others to enjoy. That’s why we have a Lu’au,” junior Russell Wijaya, Hawai’i Club member, said.
The history of lu’au is rooted in Hawaiian royalty. Traditionally, only men were allowed to take part in these feasts and entertainment. But in 1819, King Kamehameha broke the traditions and invited women to feast with the men. During these feasts, there are a variety of foods served like roasted pork, moi (reef fish), and poi (pounded taro roots), that could be fit for a king. The entertainment involved is usually hula dancing — Polynesian story-telling dance which has preserved the history and culture of the islands. Each dance move is crucial to an overall story that is being told, according to the article “Exploring the History of Lu’au,” published by the Huffington Post on July 7, 2014.
Junior Hawai’i native and Hawai’i Club’s Lu’au Chair, Niki Tamashiro explained the mission of Hawai’i Club and the events they have throughout the year.
“We educate the population about Hawaiian culture and spread aloha. This semester we had a picnic, hikes, hula practice on Alumni, and our most important event: Lu’au. All of these events are centered around building community and bringing the laid-back culture of Hawai’i to Pepperdine,” Tamashiro said.
For over 20 years, the Hawai’i Club has aimed to “educate, engage, and bring the unique ‘island’ culture to Seaver College students through enriching experiences and programs geared towards promoting awareness and respect towards the Hawaiian Culture,” according to The Peppervine.
“Ahupua’a: E malama i ka ‘Aina,” which means to take care of the land, was the theme for the 2018 Lu’au. The land is of the utmost importance to the Hawaiian culture, and Hawaiians believe it is a civic duty to protect the earth, from the mountains to the oceans, for many generations to come.
Hawai’i Club donated 100 percent of their profits to Honolulu Habitat for Humanity as a way to protect the land and to care for its people. According to the Habitat for Humanity website, this organization is dedicated to constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes in order to eliminate low-quality housing locally and worldwide in the hope that all people will have a place to live.
The Hawai’i Club Lu’au took the audience through the old tradition of life in Hawai’i, the ahupua’a, and showcased various aspects of Hawaiian culture that make the islands so special.
Hawai’i Club’s members performed the hula dancing. Senior Kari Okubo, a Hawaiian native and member of the club since freshman year, explained what hula dancing means to her.
“The original purpose of hula was to tell stories to pass down from generation to generation,” Okubo said. “Hula, to me, keeps my culture alive and reminds me of where I came from.”
Lu’au was not only a time for everyone to come together and feel the presence of aloha, but to appreciate the land and all it has bestowed. Junior Swati Reddy said she was in awe of the performances and the culture that Hawai’i has.
“This was my first ever Lu’au. I was amazed by the enriching culture of Hawaii and all the beauty that it has to offer,” Reddy said. “Each of the dances spoke about the Earth and the importance that it has for everyone. The Lu’au really made me want to visit Hawai’i soon.”
The next Pepperdine Hawai’i Club Lu’au is in March of 2019. Visit the club’s Facebook, Pepperdine Hawaii Club, for more information.
Follow the Pepperdine Graphic on Twitter: @peppgraphic