Family values guide us as we move county forward

Our County

The Hawaiian word ‘ohana brings to mind fond memories of family vacations, of mom and kids talking story around the dinner table. Lessons shared and learned.

We hear the word ‘ohana used in various ways in our daily lives. In Disney’s 2002 animated movie, “Lilo and Stitch,” Stitch says,

” ‘Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.’ “

I’m not Native Hawaiian or an expert in Hawaiian culture, but author Cecilia Kapua Lindo shed some light on the word in a 1980 piece titled “The Spirit of ‘Ohana and the Polynesian Voyagers.”

Lindo writes that the word comes from the ‘oha, or the base of the taro plant. Taro is important in Hawaiian culture, with poi serving as a staple. In her article, Lindo calls taro “the staff of life for the Hawaiian people.”

“Affection and warmth were the values of the ‘ohana,” she says. “Hawaiians believed it was important to keep lines of communication open. Members of the ‘ohana did not strain feelings by forcing other members to conform. In the ‘ohana, there was a sense of shared involvement, mutual responsibility, interdependence and helpfulness. The ‘ohana meant love and loyalty. All its members practiced the spirit of sharing and caring. Forgiveness was very important. There was great respect for elders.”

‘Ohana supports community and community values. As I’ve often said, it’s not about me; it’s about we.

Interestingly, Lindo says that in ancient times, ‘ohana made it possible for the Hawaiian people to cross the ocean to settle new lands.

“This seafaring ‘ohana was able to travel thousands of miles on double-hulled canoes because it was in touch with nature and the gods,” she says. “The ‘ohana felt safe because there were no barriers between the spiritual and cultural world.”

I love and cherish my family at home, as well as my extended ‘ohana, friends, neighbors, fellow County of Maui employees and residents and visitors of Maui Nui. I am out in our community every day. I listen as people share their joys, challenges and dreams.

We are on a journey, and, like every ‘ohana, we have our disagreements. We have our battles. When all is said and done, we come together — working together, playing together and finding solutions, together. In my heart, I put the well-being of the people of Maui County first and foremost. What I do, I do for the good of the people.

Let’s rededicate ourselves to come together to keep what’s special about Maui County — now and for future generations. As we move our county forward, like voyagers seeking new lands in oceangoing canoes, we leave no one behind.


* “Our County,” a column from Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino, discusses county issues and activities of county government. The column usually appears on the first and third Fridays of the month.