Noted music scholar, musician, and former bandmaster of the Royal Hawaiian Band, Aaron David Mahi, led a compelling panel discussion on the newest publication of the Hawaiian Bible, Baibala Hemolele at the Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival 2014.
As facilitator, Mahi also brought his own knowledge of the Hawaiian language to the fore of the discussion. His panel consisted of Kahu William Kaina, Kahu David Kaupu, and the daughter of the latter, Helen Kaupu Kaowili.
Kaowili is the Project Director of Baibala Hemolele which worked toward the reprinting of the Hawaiian Bible with the inclusion of diacritical markings, for use in the home and places of worship. But, it also serves as a resource that makes it easier for students of ‘Olelo Hawai‘i to learn the language.
Ms. Kaowili worked on the reprinting project since its inception in 2002 and persevered for a decade before the new version of the Hawaiian Bible was published and released in 2012.
Kahu Kaina shared his love of the Hawaiian language and how he learned it as a youngster without his parents knowing. He chuckled, sharing that it was customary at that time to switch to Hawaiian when adults wanted to speak of things “in secret,” but his mother realized after a time by the expressions on his face that he understood what they were saying.
He also spoke of “family worship” or the gathering of the ‘ohana to read passages from the Bible in both English and Hawaiian and discuss the particular lesson of the day.
Kahu Kaupu in turn, took us back to the beginning, with the death of Mo‘i Kamehameha the Great. He spoke of the looming and great spiritual void that was left with the King’s passing, and the arrival of the missionaries a year later.
Kamehameha’s son Liholiho was not sure about these newcomers at first, but relented when he found out that they had taken the time to learn the Hawaiian language, and put it into a written form.
After being accepted by the young King, Rev. Bingham held his first sermon at a site upon which Kawaiaha‘o Church now sits. The first passage that was translated into ‘Olelo Hawai‘i was from the Gospel of Luke 2:10, “Fear not: for behold, I bring tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
A fascinating discussion for all who were in attendance…