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A laulima thing

<p>Children of Punana Leo o Waimea, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the Hawaiian language, approach the Royal Court with a huյkupu, or gift. (FILE PHOTO)</p>

Children of Punana Leo o Waimea, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the Hawaiian language, approach the Royal Court with a huյkupu, or gift. (FILE PHOTO)

If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a small army to ready horses and riders for Waimea’s Paniolo Parade and Hoolaulea, taking place Saturday, Sept. 21. At least 100 sets of hands have contributed hours of costume-sewing, lei-making, lauhala-weaving and more in the weeks leading up to the event.

“It’s a laulima thing,” said Pa’u Marshal Kaniela Danny Akaka, Jr. “Many, many hands are coming together to make this happen … months of preparation for this one hour of glory.”

“The Akaka family will be well-represented,” said Akaka. “I’m riding as pa’u marshal, my wife Anna will be pa’u queen, and Mom and Dad (former U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka and Mary Chong), will be official ambassadors of aloha, riding in an old Hilo ‘sampan’ with Francis Ruddle at the helm.” Danny and Anna Akaka’s children will also ride in the pa’u unit.

As with all things on our island, there are stories behind each element. For the queen’s voluminous skirt, Sig Zane of Sig Zane Design in Hilo created and contributed 12 yards of his fabric called “Kaulana Na Pua,” a name that connects with Anna’s ancestry, as well as future generations.

“Kaulana Na Pua means ‘famous are the flowers,’” said Anna Akaka. “The name is very appropriate … Famous are the flowers, the descendants, the children and their noble work that will be significant and important, all in their own way.”

Crafted in Zane’s black and silver print, their garments will blend with black and white palaka sashes and neckerchiefs on the male riders, and aquamarine hues on the women, for a mauka-makai transition. For leis, the ladies and their mounts will wear all fresh florals, while men and horses sport lauhala and coconut leis.

Anna Akaka said at least 30 lauhala weavers and artisans gathered at the Eva Parker Woods Cottage at Mauna Lani to help make leis. Lauhala-weaving clubs sent bags full of decorative rosettes, in multiple earth tones, from lauhala beiges to coconut tan, and frozen fronds in chocolate brown. Lei-makers from Kapaau to Kona pitched in to help with the floral neck leis and head pieces.

Then there are the horses. Anna Akaka said they started out with only a couple of saddles, but it didn’t take long before calls started coming in, asking what they needed and offering horses from Waimea, Kona and North Kohala. Rancher David Fuertes hand-picked two mounts and riders experienced in the “ha’alulu,” the trembling winds of Waimea, that could make parade banners flutter and spook more temperamental animals.

“We are so blessed to have friends in our community who are so talented and so generous, and continue to support all of us in the community in ways that are hard to imagine,” said Anna, expressing sincere gratitude from the Akaka family to everyone who shared in the laulima.

The Paniolo Parade steps off from Church Row at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and proceeds west on Mamalahoa Highway/Kawaihae Road to Waimea Park, where the Hoolaulea takes place. Roads will be closed from shortly before parade start to its conclusion. Organizers remind the public to please arrive early and avoid delays or inconvenience. For more information, visit www.hawaiiislandfestival.org.