With the first phase of Waikiki Beach Walk set to open this month, an intimate Hawaiian blessing was held on Monday, December 4, to mark the momentous occasion. Because construction barriers were still up on Monday and pedestrian access restricted, the ceremony was kept to a minimum number of people so work on the project could resume as soon as the ceremony concluded. We look forward to holding another more public celebration in the future.
It was 20 months and 7 days ago that Kumu John Lake and Outrigger cultural consultant Kehau Kruse celebrated the project's ground breaking atop the former OHANA Waikiki Tower. On Monday, we came full circle, with the ceremony taking place on the new open air plaza fronting the shops at Waikiki Beach Walk.
It was a beautiful morning when the conch shell sounded at 10 a.m., marking the beginning of the ceremony. Construction workers stopped what they were doing and turned toward the plaza, lending their mana (spiritual power) to what was happening. Na Wa'alalani Kahuna O Pu'ukohola, led by Kumu Lake and Kehau, entered the blessing area-the fountain courtyard, which is considered the symbolic "piko" or center of the project area-as Outrigger Ho'okipa & Organizational Culture Consultant Ka'ipo Ho welcomed them with a chant.
Gathered at the site were nine representatives of the different entities that have played an integral part in the Waikiki Beach Walk project. They included:
David Carey, representing Outrigger Enterprises Group
Dr. Chuck Kelley representing the Kelley family
Mel Kaneshige, representing Outrigger Real Estate and Development
Dick Gushman, representing ABW, the retail ownership group
Bob Yeoman, representing Embassy Suites
Barbara Campbell, representing Waikiki Beach Walk Retail
Gary Mano, representing Wyndham Waikiki Beach Walk
Kirk Bailey, representing Dick Pacific
Red Ward, representing Charles Pankow Builders
Members of Na Wa'alalani Kahuna O Pu'ukohola presented each of the representatives with a ho'okupu, or gift, which held symbols of the blessings. They included pa'akai (salt), wai (fresh water), and 'olena (tumeric), all of which represent purification and cleansing in the Hawaiian culture. Also included were 'ulu, or breadfruit, to represent growth; kukui, or candlenut, which represents enlightenment; lepo, earth taken from the area, representing the foundation of the project; kalo/taro representing Waikiki's past; and a maile lei.
Halau Na Wa'alalani Kahuna O Pu'ukohola then began the blessing with chants calling upon the ancestors and the four cardinal points and asking for the lifting of the defilement. They also performed a chant composed by Kumu Lake which spoke of Waikiki and the area surrounding Waikiki Beach Walk. A gift of hula was then offered by the Halau Na Wa'alalani Kahuna O Pu'ukohola. David Carey said a few words of thanks and acknowledgement, and the ceremony concluded with everyone gathering for refreshments, also a part of the blessing ritual.
It was a wonderful morning of ceremony and celebration marking an exciting milestone in the history of Outrigger Enterprises Group. Much of the company's initial success took place right there along Lewers Street with founders Roy and Estelle Kelley opening many of their first hotels in the area. While some of those hotels are now gone, the mana (spiritual power) remains and permeates the area, ensuring the success of Outrigger's Waikiki Beach Walk.