Ka wā ho’olilo

SPU’s ‘Ohana ‘O Hawai’i Club hosts 2023 Luau, cherishes family in midst of change

Micah Lim, Staff Writer

Lu’au guests compete in a hands-free donut eating contest at Royal Brougham Pavilion on Saturday, May 13, 2023. (Mia Eshima)

On Saturday, May 13, Seattle Pacific University’s ‘Ohana ‘O Hawai’i Club club hosted its 8th annual Luau in Royal Brougham Pavilion. It was almost coincidental that the relaxing music, dance, floral-patterned clothing and shaved ice would usher in 80 degree weather. 

But behind the excellent food and entertainment was an immensity of preparation and planning. 

It took eight months and over twenty board meetings to execute a two hour event. The chair of entertainment, Tani Yoshioka, a second year English major, performed and helped train for the hula dances. Its fruition would not have been possible without the bulk of time and energy behind it.

“We had a rehearsal until like 10 p.m. last night running over the dances. This morning we were in the kitchen making the food,” Yoshioka said. “So, I think the biggest struggle is managing our own wellbeing as we’re trying to put on this large event. But I think it came to a good conclusion.” 

Second year psychology major Ethan Lee, food chair for Hawai’i club, helped prepare and coordinate the food. From the snacks to the catering, much was provided, and Lee could only find rest after the night’s absolute success. 

“I feel really relived. This has been a whole school year’s worth of planning by trying to fundraise and all that. I’m really proud of my fellow board members as well as everyone who came out and supported us,” Lee said. “The biggest challenge for us was to just persevere, keep the pace going, stay strong, keep our heads in the game and make it to the final end goal.”

Tables were filled with family, friends of students, staff and faculty because more than the entertainment or food, the luau celebrates the company of others.

Senior business administration major Rhymel Dacquel was club president of this year’s club board. To Dacquel, imparting a sense of ‘ohana, or family, is important, especially in the post-COVID-19 times. 

“Our motto is ‘a home away from home,’ so being able to be a diverse club, welcoming others who are not from Hawai’i is our main purpose in the club as well as being able to experience the culture and traditions of native Hawa’ians, carrying over what is a luau through storytelling and hula dances,” Daquel said. 

Through thick and thin, family sticks together. During his speech and in the midst of the comradery, Daquel also acknowledged the growing pains of this year. 

“This year’s theme was ‘Ka wā ho’oilo,’ ‘A season of change.’ We incorporated how Hawai’i is dealing with so many problems with the Mauna Kea incident [and] the Red Hill water crisis and how SPU is dealing with the SPU lawsuit. I wanted it to be a sense of belonging,” Daquel said. 

Since 2014, the people of Hawai’i have been protesting the anticipated construction of NASA’s thirty-foot telescope on Mauna Kea, a sacred volcano for the Native Hawai’ian religion. On Nov. 20, 2021, the U.S. Navy’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility contaminated the water reservoir for over 10,000 households, and many suffered from acute petroleum exposure.

No matter where home is, there will be hardship and injustice. But family brings us together to remind us that we stand with each other in solidarity and in celebration. 

Second year exercise science major Ezra Michel believes that by persevering through struggle, there is reward. 

“This is a great opportunity to understand what the meaning of family is. People coming from all different backgrounds not caring of where you come from or who you are,”  Michel said. “And I believe that’s the most important and valuable thing about the love of Hawai’i because no matter where you come from, we open arms to all and everyone.”

With the 2023 Luau coming to a close, the end of spring quarter has been filled with promise for the future knowing that with family, everything will be alright. 

“It creates a sense of culture and community because that’s what ‘ohana is; ‘ohana is family. Our family is our community. Having that sense, we create a better SPU,” Lee said. “I truly believe our events will keep improving on and on and on.”