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East // East Oahu Coverstory
Rasa Fournier

Enjoy Lanai From Seat At Mamiya Theatre

Visitors to Mamiya Theatre March 25 will feel they’ve been transported to Lanai during the Aloha Lanai Benefit & Concert.

The program begins at 4 p.m. on the Saint Louis School campus, with oral history programs, a silent auction, food, music and Lanai memories. At 6 p.m. bands and hula halau will take the stage. Funds raised will support the Lanai Culture & Heritage Center, which is dedicated to preserving the island’s traditions, including its ranching and plantation era histories.

“We have an amazing collection of native artifacts and historical materials that span 1,000 years of Lanai’s history,” said the center’s executive director Kepa Maly. “We have records that document the pineapple plantations history. Those records include family photographs spanning the broad cultural spectrum of Lanai.”

The records also include an employee ledger covering just one year of pineapple plantation labor, weighing in at a hefty 60 pounds. The center also is collecting videotaped oral histories of some of Lanai’s remaining elders. In addition, they’ve begun archeological field work of important historic areas.

“So little has been recorded and documented on that island because typically these studies are done when they’re tied to development,” noted Maly. “We’re taking the opportunity to look at a landscape that in many ways looks much like it did 200 or more years ago. Funding helps us run, care for, document and continue to collect history from the thousands of people who have been somehow connected to Lanai.”

Maly himself was raised in Lanai, picking pineapples during his high school years, and learning the stories and history of the people and the land from elders who were born in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He promises an incredible program at the Kaimuki venue where guests can learn more about Lanai firsthand, including hula by halau from the island.

“Music groups that will be playing, like Na Palapalai, Kupaoa and Waipuna, they’re good friends (of Lanai),” he added. “These are young Hawaiian artists who are immersed in their language and their culture. When they’re playing Hawaiian music, whether old or new compositions, we’re hearing music that is really rooted in Hawaiian culture.

“Whether or not someone is from Lanai doesn’t matter. That’s why we brought this program to Oahu, because in the years we were a plantation, tens of thousands of people, many from Oahu, went to Lanai to pick pineapples during the summer. There are people who have worked on Lanai, lived on Lanai or just enjoy Lanai whether it’s going hunting or for some rest and relaxation. We felt this was a great opportunity to bring a little taste of Lanai, a little feel of Lanai here to Oahu and to encourage support of a unique community heritage program.”

Maly also mentioned that there’s some amazing auction items up for bid. For tickets ($25, $30 at the door), call Maly at 7448806 or email him at info@lanaichc.org.

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