Two representatives from Kauai’s Hawaiian community said they are honored, appreciative and most of all, humbled to be participants in The King’s Celebration and Parade in Lihue on Saturday.
Representing King Kamehameha this year is Russ Michael Keali‘i Mahuiki-Cummings of Wailua, while Annie K Kelly Kanahele of Kekaha is the parade’s Grand Marshal.
Mahuiki-Cummings said he was reluctant to take the position at first. However, a conversation with last year’s king, Thomas Lindsay, convinced the 29-year-old that the role represents leadership, especially to the youth.
“I always seen Kamehameha parades as, you know, elders being on the float,” he said. “My lieutenant who was Kamehameha last year, he (and I) had a pretty deep conversation about leadership and about the youth of today. They need young role models to look up to.”
Mahuiki-Cummings, an employee at Kauai Community Correctional Center, said his role in the parade is an opportunity to feed the youth “positive thoughts, positive energy.”
“I took it in that way, so they can have someone young to look up to and that’s what lit my fire to take this title, representing Kamehameha this year,” he said. “The youth today need leadership because it’s lacking in the youth community. They just need somebody to look up to.”
Mahuiki-Cummings said being Hawaiian for him is linking the past to the present, which he learned from his grandmother, Ruby Kawaiulailiahi Pia Cummings.
“Being Hawaiian it’s about culture, preserving, taking from the past and applying to the future,” he said.
In his spare time, Mahuiki-Cummings spends time with his family, goes to the beach, works out at the gym and plays sports with his son, Kaneao.
Kanahele, better known as Mama Ane, said she was happy to take on any role in the parade.
“I don’t know what is Grand Marshal,” but “I’m happy to be in the parade,” she laughed. “This is my first time going to the parade. It’s really nice for do those things in the community.”
Mama Ane was making a pupu lei on a hot morning Wednesday, surrounded by her family in Kekeha, when she greeted The Garden Island with a hug and a hearty laugh.
Mama Ane said part of being Hawaiian is to be loving and kind to one another.
“Every Hawaiian needs to love each other. We are all the same,” she said. “There’s nothing different from each other. We have different language, but there’s no difference.”
Mama Ane, who teaches children verses from the Bible on Sundays, said part of the culture is learning the language, which, she said, can be taught for free at her home.
“You wanna learn, but you have to pay for yourself if you wanna talk Hawaiian,” she laughed. “It’s what I heard from the kumu who teach Hawaiian. Come to my house. Free the Hawaiian. No need pay.”
Mama Ane has eight children, 19 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren and one more great-grandchild on the way.
“This is what I’m doing now: teach my mo‘opuna (grandchildren) church songs, make pupu and kahu on Sunday, then I have to teach all the ohana (to) read the bible,” she said.