Tahitian connection

LIHUE — Sixteen years ago, a Kauai delegation led by former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka traveled to Tahiti to establish a sister city relationship between the County of Kauai and the Commune of Papeno‘o in Tahiti, French Polynesia.

Tuesday morning, a reaffirmation ceremony was held at the Lihue Civic Center, Moikeha Courtyard that involved the current leaders of these municipalities.

The resolution was signed by Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr., Council Chair Mel Rapozo and the head of the Commune of Papeno‘o, Mayor Vetea Avaemai.

“Uncle Joe Kahauleilo, a kumu hula and entertainer, recognized the similarities between Hawaii and Tahiti,” Carvalho said. “He loved Tahitian dance, and it was his dream to see a sister city relationship set up between Hawaii and Tahiti.”

Council Chair Rapozo said, “Our heritage and culture has long been intertwined with Tahiti, and we look forward to many more years of friendship with the people of Papeno’o.”

The program included performances by Halau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leinaala, O Tahiti E, Toa Huhina, Haururu, Halau Ka Waikahe Lani Malie, Carol Casil and her family, Nalani Brun, Kekai Chock and Gabriel Ornellas.

“The County of Kauai and Papeno‘o share an exceptionally rich heritage and lifestyle,” said Nalani Brun of the county’s Office of Economic Development.

About 70 people flew to Kauai from Tahiti for this occasion and to participate in workshops, forums and performances.

Local dignitaries, government officials, and county employees were also in attendance.

Randy Wichman served as interpreter for the French-speaking people, while Eriki Marchand translated from French to English. Kaleo Carvalho was the emcee.

To commemorate the ceremony, an iliahi tree will be planted at the corner of Hardy Street and Kuhio Highway. In addition, a plaque will be placed alongside the tree.

“We are delighted to host a delegation from Papeno‘o. Our shared heritage can be traced all the back to the shores of Raiatea, where our ancestors departed from and made their way to Hawaii nei,” Carvalho said. “This exchange enables us to continue to connect and to promote cultural sustainability.”

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