LIHUE — “Ku‘i at the County” is not a protest, said Pua Rossi, a Kauai Community College Hawaiian studies instructor.
“Ku‘i kalo is poi-pounding,” Rossi said. “We have a group of cultural practitioners and kalo growers coming together on the front lawn of the Historic County Building to ku‘i kalo.”
The event runs from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Wedneday and starts with an opening oli and pule from kumu Sabra Kauka. Also expected are words from Kauai County Councilmember Mason Chock, and a dialogue on Queen Lili‘uokalani and other significant Hawaiian women.
“Coincidentally, the ku‘i also falls on the same date as the Hawaiian overthrow 125 years ago,” Rossi said. “We will be speaking on the queen and other significan Hawaiian women. This is in honor of the queen’s vision of us as a culture still being alive, and perpetuated to our children.”
Joshua Fukino said the overthrow is something “not to forget.”
“We need to pass this on to our keiki,” Fukino said. “We cannot forget, and need to let the youth know of the wrong of the event.”
Rossi invites people to bring mats, papa and pohaku ku‘i a‘i (poi board and stone), or borrow one to make their own poi, or sample some created by the practitioners on hand. There will also be hula.
The Ku‘i at the County started on Oahu in 2011 when the state Legislature passed SB101 governing the traditional methods of poi-making, Rossi said.
“Because of the community support, the ku‘i, which is traditionally held on the opening day of the Legislature, has grown to where more than 2,000 pounds of kalo is made into poi,” Rossi said. “Josh and I were invited to this year’s event which will remember Jerry Konanui, whom Josh apprenticed under. Uncle Jerry passed last year.”
Rossi said because the event is being held in the middle of the work week, and because of high plane fares, they will host a Kauai ku‘i at the Historic County Building to remember and honor Konanui.
“This is not a protest,” Fukino said. “This a lot of things, like the aloha style being lost. People are welcome to come and pound poi and enjoy with us, like the old days. There is a saying that when you work, no protest because it affects the taste of the poi. Uncle Jerry would say ‘nani ke kalo,’ or ‘kalo is beautiful.’”