Kuleana

nvt. Right, privilege, concern, responsibility, title, business, property, estate, portion, jurisdiction, authority, liability, interest, claim, ownership, tenure, affair, province; reason, cause, function, justification; small piece of property, as within an ahupuaʻa; blood relative through whom a relationship to less close relatives is traced, as to in-laws.

When you read historical records (land documents and such) you will see the word kuleana in reference to ownership of land.  Kuleana is a small section of land within a larger ahupuaʻa.  If you had kuleana to a certain piece of property that land was yours to claim if you filed the correct papers (way back in 1850).

In a greater context, however, you may find kuleana to be quite an interesting word in that it means both privilege and responsibility.  Think about it (stop, pause, think about it).  If you are afforded a certain privilege, or kuleana, you also accept a responsibility along with it.  It isn’t all about what you can do for me. It is more along the lines of because i have been given this privilege I need to somehow use it in a way that is beneficial to the larger whole, the greater good and not just myself.  Our aliʻi knew this. And that is why today we have trusts that were founded as a result of our aliʻi, such as the Queen Liliʻuokalani Children’s Center, Queen Kapiʻolani Hospital, Lunalilo Home and Kamehameha Schools.  But it’s not just reflective of those who have money or status. Many entertainers, both nationally and locally give freely of their talents.  Kumu hula and many in the field of education share their knowledge and expertise with others without asking anything in return. And the list goes on and on. People within our various communities and neighborhoods are always volunteering to kōkua in many different ways. Sharing the kuleana.

When we have kuleana as a privilege we accept kuleana as a responsibility. That’s what makes life in Hawaiʻi unique. Its not about me me me. It’s about us. We.  As the saying goes, “It’s a kākou thing.” We are not on this island alone.  And we certainly cannot survive here without the aloha of those around us and also trusting that the rest of the world will also mālama their kuleana and share their aloha. Aloha is, after all, a worldwide term.

How do YOU manage your kuleana?

E mālama i ka ʻōlelo, i kuleana e kipa mai ai – Remember the invitation, for it gives you the privilege of coming here (A person feels welcome when accepting an invitation and friendly promises.

Maʻewaʻewa i ka hale kuleana ʻole – One receives abuse in a house without a relative (Pitiful is the lot of one who dwells with those who do not care).

ʻO ke aloha ke kuleana o kahi malihini – Love is the host in strange lands (every passerby was greeted and offered food whether he was an acquaintance or a total stranger).

Copyright: 2015 – Liana Iaea Honda. All rights reserved. All versions of He Momi e Lei ai”, in its entirety, past and present, is the property of L. K. I. Honda. Reproduction and use of any kind other than the sharing of this website is prohibited. Alteration to the original content in any form is prohibited in every and any instance, and use in any other variant is prohibited without written consent of the author. Adress inquiries to: hemomi [at] gmail.com. Definitions and wise sayings are from: Hawaiian Dictionary by Pukui and Elbert, 1986. ʻŌlelo Noʻeau – Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings by Mary Kawena Pukui, 1983.

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