Mauna Lani Culture A Sense of Place

Not every property, in fact few, celebrate a sense of place as well as the Mauna Lani Hotel. I was impressed and touched by the in-depth program of sharing local culture. A casual corner, the House of Knowledge, in the lobby houses a circle where musicians gather to play traditional instruments and sing Hawaiian songs. We have a darling family there this week and they are enjoying so many activities!

I met Uncle Danny in this circle and later when he provided a blessing for the wedding guests. Danny Akaka is a historian and ambassador at Auberge Resorts Mauna Lani in Hawaii, represents the best of modern cultural diplomacy. He’s worked at the property for 39 years and shares the stories, oral traditions, and spirit of the area with guests who can’t get enough. 

Uncle Danny Akaka

House of Knowledge – Step inside our “House of Knowledge” to experience the distinct and charming spirit of Hawaii’s indigenous living culture. A cultural center and museum located in the heart of the lobby, Hale ‘I’ike is home to Kōnane checker sets, traditional works of art and historical books enlivening the eras of kings, cowboys, and celestial navigators. Talk story with members of Mauna Lani’s Living Culture Hui, the team dedicated to the cultural, historical, and natural resources of Hawai’i. Learn about Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire, or try your hand at the ‘ukulele. String your own lei as the scents of tuberose are carried with the trade winds, or simply observe the everlasting beauty of Hawai’i through its symbols and stories.

Culture and Traditions are honored at Mauna Lani

Rooted in generations of history, Twilight at Kalāhuipua’a celebrates the timeless stories of Hawai’i through storytelling, music, and community. Join us at the Eva Parker Woods Cottage on the Saturday closest to the full moon for local performances and talk story sessions hosted by our beloved Kahu Hānai, Danny Akaka. Talk Story.

Take a hands-on approach to travel when you learn the chords, steps and skills that weave generations together in the spirit of Aloha. Hawaiian artisans and storytellers carry precious threads of knowledge passed down through generations. Whether you pound poi or play a song on the ‘ukulele, connect with the people and practices that make this place so enthralling.

Classes Include: Lei Making. A tangible symbol of aloha, the lei represents connectivity, love, and celebration. String one of your own using tropical flowers as the sweet smell of tuberose mingles fittingly with salty ocean air carried by breezy trade winds.

Ukelele Lessons. When early Portuguese immigrants brought a small stringed instrument to Hawai’i in the mid-nineteenth century, native Hawaiians made it their own. Now, the sweet and simple strum of the ‘ukulele is a sound that is known, loved, and learned by many.

Mauna Lani Uncle Danny

On the vast property, there is also a large collection of Sacred Ponds, these are not for guests to swim in, the ancient ponds have been tended for years honoring old Hawaiian Royal culture. These ancient Hawaiian fishponds located on the grounds of the Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast, are producing fish up until today. There are seven fishponds: Kalahuipua’a, Waipuhi, Waipuhi Iki, Kahinawao, Hope’ala, Manoku and Milokukahi, with Lahuipua’a and Ka’aiopio as divisions of Kalahuipua’a.

Mauna Lani Ancient Fish Pond

Kalahuipua’a is the largest pond encompassing 4.6 acres and measuring up to 18 feet (5.5 m) in depth. In the old Hawaii, most fishponds were managed by the ali’i (chiefs), and most of the fish were consumed by them.

An educational plaque at the Mauna Lani fishponds reads:“Since men first found them, the fishponds at Kalahuipa’a [name of the ahupua’a on which Mauna Lani sits] have been a delightful oasis along this arid coast. These brackish ponds are fed and cleansed by freshwater springs seeping into them and the tidal action of the sea. By modifying them and managing them wisely, the prehistoric Hawaiians were able to raise a variety of fish in these ponds. ‘Ama’ama (mullet) and awa (milkfish) were the most commonly raised fish, but others such as papio (jack) kaku (barracuda) and puhi (eels) as well as ‘opae (shrimp) lived here also. These ponds are among the few anywhere that are still being managed in much the same way as they were in ancient times. They are still producing fish