nvt. To oppose, resist, protest; opposite, versus, adverse, contrary, antagonistic, unwilling; objection. Lit., stand different. He manaʻo kūʻē, an opposite meaning. Kūʻē kānāwai, unlawful, contrary to law, illegal, against the law. Kūʻē aupuni, opposed or disloyal to the government, rebel. Hana kūʻē, violation, opposition. Mea kūʻē, adversary, opponent. Kūʻē i ka palapala kauoha, to contest a will. Kūʻē i kō haʻi manaʻo, to oppose others’ views; intolerant. Nā kāhuna kūʻē i ka Pope, ministers opposed to the Pope, Protestant ministers. Kūʻē kumukānāwai, unconstitutional. hoʻo.kū.ʻē To cause opposition, to stir up resistance; to oppose, clash.

Let’s take a look at the literal translation of this word, kūʻē. Stand different. Kū – to stand; ʻē – different. When you think about it from this perspective, if you stand different does it always have to mean something negative? Yes, you are in opposition of, say, someone else, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is WRONG? Different does not equal wrong.

Let’s take a look at this quote from Princess Pauahi:

“Time will come when you feel you are being pushed into the background.
Never allow this to happen – stand always on your own foundation.
But you will have to make that foundation. There will come time when
to make this stand will be difficult, especially to you of Hawaiian birth;
But conquer you can – if you will.”  

I think some people have misconstrued the term kūʻē into something negative. If you have a different stance on something does it mean it is negative? Do you think this is what Pauahi intended in the quote above?

For my own keiki, I hope I instilled in them the good sense to be kūʻē — take that stand — whether it is turning away from the peer pressure of drugs or being able to stand up for someone being mistreated or bullied. Kū’ē, my children! And my haumana! Eh, even when your own teacher is doing something that you know is not pono, kūʻē!

Our people are not new to this notion of standing in opposition, being kūʻē, to something they are passionate about. Have you heard of the kūʻē petitions? Over 38,000 signatures of our kanaka maoli (native Hawaiians) protesting annexation. Obviously their opposition didn’t change the course of history. Annexation occurred. But were they wrong? ʻAʻole paha. Probably not. Look us today! Still kūʻē. My life changed on Sunday when I saw my great grandfather’s name, Isaac D. Iaea, age 41, on page 479, line 28. MY GREAT GRANDFATHER! 100% Hawaiian. A minister at Kaluaʻaha Church, a kalawina church, located in Manaʻe, Molokaʻi!


Photo by Lynette Cruz

Photo by Lynette Cruz

As far back as 2003, Hawaiians and more marched in red shirts, to protest court cases challenging the exclusionary policies of OHA, Hawaiian Homes, and Kamehameha Schools. Were they all wrong for being kūʻē?


And now we (and by we I realize I am talking about SOME Hawaiians, not all) are displaying our kūʻē, our opposition, to TMT (Thirty Meter Telescope) atop Mauna Kea. And while it may be OFFENSIVE to some who hold differing spiritual or religious beliefs (and are unwilling to support a cause that honors the snow goddess, Poliʻahu), well, know that there is MUCH MORE to it than that. We are kūʻē because in addition to the sacredness of our mauna, the desecration of a place of worship for many, Mauna Kea is the source of water for us on Hawaiʻi Island. There are over a dozen telescopes up there already. They want to blow a GIANT hole into the mauna! I am certain God would not want anyone to go all up in the face of a Buddhist temple or the ʻāina or wai that is held sacred to any other religious group. The mere thought of it makes my blood boil. It is ridiculousness, if that is even a word. Check out this website for more info.

And now with the Naʻi Aupuni, once again, something being used to divide Hawaiians, as we seek to determine our destiny. Some kūʻē. Some kūʻē those who kūʻē. And some do nothing. Eh. Have an opinion. Make a difference. Here is a fine example. BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION OR BE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

As Pauahi said, “Time will come when you feel you are being pushed into the background.” We tired being pushed into the background. We going kūʻē, just like the thousands of signatures upon the kūʻē petitions. But we no need polls to see how many support or don’t support. Front lines. (executing my rights to speak pidgin now…as if we needed a news story to know that it is legit).

Kūʻē. Don’t let someone else determine your destiny. Or the destiny of your pulapula. Push to the foreground. And be an agent of change.

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