The Conversation: May Day Two Ways, Flowers and Workers

Apr 30, 2021

On this Aloha Friday Conversation, we’re all about flowers and growing things. Tomorrow is May Day, Lei Day in Hawai‘i, which has traditionally meant making lei, giving lei, wearing a lei and the May Day Court with all their floral regalia---the only time local kids did poi balls, tinikling and haka was in May Day performances.

Kumu hulu Cody Pueo Pata teaches us about lei

Cody Pueo Pata, of Pukalani, Maui, is kumu hula of Hālau Hula ʻo Ka Malama Mahilani
Credit Cody Pueo Pata/Hālau Hula ʻo Ka Malama Mahilani

Let’s head to Pukalani on Maui to learn about lei from Cody Pueo Pata, kumu hula of Hālau Hula ʻo Ka Malama Mahilani. He teaches in Kahului, Kāneʻohe and Tōkyō. Pata became immersed in hula culture in high school when he joined his father’s family on Maui. 

Lei Queen Jamie Ka‘ohulani Adams Detwiler on growing flowers

You have to find lei materials where you can! And for 2010 Lei Queen Jamie Ka‘ohulani Adams Detwiler and her ohana, that means starting in their own yard. She had a tray of liko and ferns in front of her when we talked. Detwiler’s aunt, Marie McDonald wrote two seminal books on lei and taught lei making in Honolulu for many years. Growing your own flowers is a big part of it. That’s how it was on Moloka‘i where Detwiler’s dad grew up.

Makanani Sala from the Mayor's Office on Culture and the Arts in Honolulu

Mayor's grand prize winner of the 2017 lei contest
Credit Noe Tanigawa/Hawaii Public Radio

Honolulu has a long standing Lei contest, which this year is kind of online as an unofficial run for the world’s longest lei. Makanani Sala is the city's new Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office on Culture and the Arts. 

A former Hawaiian Studies instructor at Windward Community College, the first thing Sala did was offer free Hawaiian language basics for city employees. Over 100 people jumped at the chance. We talked to Makanani Sala about what else she has planned.

Kapa artist Roen Hufford on sinking into the rhythms of the plants

Cherry blossoms in Waimea
Credit Roen Hufford

Over the years at her vegetable farm in Waimea, Roen Hufford has been learning the seasonality of kapa. It’s taken years to sink into the rhythms of the plants. The process, Hufford says, draws her closer to the earth and to an Ohana which has sprung up around kapa making.

You can find her work at the American Savings Bank by contacting Lo‘i Gallery's Michelle Uchiyama at

Nanea Lum, Master of Fine Arts, on display at the UH Commons Gallery | Link

MFA graduate Nanea Lum at Wa‘aloa Stream
Credit Noe Tanigawa

Also on view now, at the UH Art Department’s Commons Gallery, Eia Ke Kumu, Nanea Lum’s Master of Fine Arts thesis show. In past paintings, Lum explored Western conventions with a fresh, local sensibility. For her thesis show, Lum says she wanted to use the Western art practice of painting to draw closer to place, to the ‘aina, to specifically, Manoa valley. That’s where we met, along Wa‘aloa Stream. Lum devised protocols using canvas and pigments that left marks on her canvas over time.

International Workers' Day celebration on Saturday

May 1 is also International Workers' Day, a day to recognize the so-called working class. It’s still a holiday in many countries. Tomorrow in Honolulu, the Hawaii Workers Center will celebrate its first anniversary with a rally and march for fairness. We spoke to two Workers Center board members behind this new effort, Sergio Alcubilla and Mary Ochs.

And on Saturday, Hawaiian Airlines, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Walmart, the City of Honolulu and others are presenting a Lei Day concert that will include storytelling about the issues raised by ‘Aina Aloha Economic Futures.


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