Mai ka liko a ka lā‘ele, aloha pumehana kākou. ‘O Mathew “Manakō” Tanaka ko‘u inoa, a he aloha ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i. Ua ho‘omaka ku‘u huaka‘i i ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i ma ke komo ‘ana i ka papa ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i ia‘u e noho ana ma nā papa ‘oihana ho‘okipa o ke Kulanui o Hawai‘i ma Mānoa. Hala akula ‘elua mau makahiki ma laila, a ho‘oholo ihola au e komo ma ka Papahana Kulanui o Disney (‘o ia ho‘i ka Disney College Program) a ne‘e akula nō i Pololika e komo ai i ka hana ma ka hōkele Polinekia o Disney (‘o ia ho‘i ka Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort). Eia kekahi mo‘olelo pōkole no ka hō‘ailona i ho‘oholo aku ai au e ho‘omau ma ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i.
I kekahi pō anu ma Pololika ua hiki maila kahi malihini ‘ano uluhua ke nānā aku. No ke ‘ano pūkalakī o ko ia ala nānā ‘ana, nīnau aku nei kēia, “Pehea, ua maika‘i anei ‘oe?” I hākālia nō a pa‘ē akula ka nīnau ma ona mau pepeiao, helu papa mai ana ka malihini i nā ‘ino a pau o ia lā: ‘o ka ‘ūlōlohi o ka mokulele, ‘o ka ‘ole o ke ka‘a lawe ‘ōhua, ‘o ka nalowale ‘ana o nā ‘ukana, a he nui hou aku. Komo ihola ke aloha ma loko o kēia, a nīnau hou akula, “Auē, aloha ‘ino e ke hoa. ‘O ia paha ke kumu o ka ha‘alulu o kou nānā ‘ana?” ‘O ka hō‘ole ‘ana maila nō ia a ka malihini me ka ‘ōlelo, “‘A‘ole kā! ‘O ko‘u pahuhopu nō ia, ‘o ka lawe ‘ana mai i ka‘u mau keiki ho‘oheno e noho ma ‘ane‘i mai ko‘u wā hūpēkole, a eia ua kō.” I ia wā nō, ‘alawa ihola ‘o ia e ‘ike ai ma ku‘u pihi inoa ‘o ko‘u home ‘o ia nō ‘o Honolulu. Kau maila ka lehelehe i luna me ka hālo‘ilo‘i o kona mau waimaka me he mea lā e ku‘u mai ana ka paniwai. Nīnau akula kēia, “Auē e ke hoa, he aha kou kumu e uē waimaka nei?” a pane mai nei, “No ka mea, he ka‘aka nō Hawai‘i mai ‘oe, a he ho‘okipa Hawai‘i maoli ko‘u ma ke kipa ‘ana i nēia wahi. Kohu mea lā ua kō nā moemoeā, ‘a‘ole o kana mai ku‘u pōmaika‘i.” Kāhāhā au i kona uē ‘ana no ka launa wale ‘ana i kahi kanaka no Hawai‘i mai. Mahalo ihola nō i ku‘u ‘āina hānau, a no‘ono‘o ihola au he kuleana nui e waiho nei i mua o‘u.
‘O ia aela ka mo‘olelo o ka hō‘ailona mua e paipai ana ia‘u e ho‘omau i ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i. I ka ho‘i ‘ana mai i Hawai‘i nei, ho‘omana‘o a‘ela au i ke kuleana nui o ko Hawai‘i, iā Hawai‘i pono‘ī. Ua ho‘oholo akula e komo ma ka papahana laepua ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i ma Kawaihuelani i Ke Kulanui o Hawai‘i ma Mānoa. A pa‘a ke kama‘ilio Hawai‘i ia‘u, lilo akula au kekahi o nā hoa hana mua loa o Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa.
He mau loina Hawai‘i e a‘o ‘ia nei i kēlā me kēia hoa hana ma laila. He mau hua ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i e a‘o ‘ia nei i nā malihini e kipa mai ana. A he mau hoa hana ma laila e mākaukau nei ma ke kama‘ilio Hawai‘i, no laila, i kēlā lā me kēia lā ua hiki ke launa like a ho‘oma‘ama‘a i ka‘u ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i ‘ana. Ua wili pū ‘ia maila nā ao ‘elua o ko‘u ho‘ona‘auao ‘ia ‘ana i kahua pa‘a e ola mau ai ka wehi o ka ‘āina, ‘o ia nō ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i. Eia kekahi ‘ōlelo no‘eau a‘u e ho‘oheno mau ai: E mālama i ka ‘ōlelo, i kuleana e kipa mai ai. Mahalo a nui.
Aloha to all! My name is Mathew “Manakō” Tanaka, a lover of ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i, or Hawaiian language. My journey with Hawaiian language began when I first started at the School of Travel Industry Management at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and I took ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i as an elective, with no real plans to take it very far. After two years, I found myself needing a change and I left Hawai‘i for the first time to join the Disney College Program in Florida at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. It may come as a surprise, but that experience inspired me to continue with ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i.
One night at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, a guest entered the lobby looking rather distraught. I quickly went to her and asked if she was all right. She began to list how the flights were wrong, the transports were cancelled, her baggage was lost, and that it was basically a bad travel day. I replied, “Oh, that must be why you seem upset.” She immediately corrected me, saying, “No! It has been my dream to bring my children to stay here at this resort my entire life, and I am excited to be here!” Then, she looked down at my name tag and saw that I was from Honolulu. She began to cry and I asked again if she was okay. She responded, “I just can’t believe that someone from Hawai‘i is actually checking me in.
“Being at this resort is a dream come true, and I feel blessed.” I couldn’t believe she was in tears from just meeting someone who was from Hawai‘i, and it made me realize what a privilege it was that I was born here.
I took this as a sign to continue with ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i when I returned home. I learned the great responsibility, we, who are from Hawai‘i, have to Hawai‘i. So, I decided to study ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i officially at Kawaihuelani, School of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, while I studied Travel Industry Management. When I was near fluency, I was fortunate to be hired onto the opening team for Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa.
You see, at Aulani, we live and work with values that are in ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i. We use ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i as a tool to educate our visitors and immerse them in the beauty of the land and our culture. But, most importantly to me, there are many of us at Aulani who speak ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i and I can use it every day! My two worlds were intertwined when I came to work at Aulani, and I have loved it ever since those first days. It makes me think of an ‘ōlelo no‘eau, or Hawaiian proverb: “E mālama i ka ‘ōlelo, i kuleana e kipa mai ai,” which can mean, “Care for the language, it is a reason to visit.”