With support through a grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Partners in Development Foundation welcomed members of the Leadership Academy at American Savings Bank Hawaii to participate in a “Ka ‘Ike Nohona – Understanding Cultural Practices” workshop. This project is designed to share the wisdom of the Native Hawaiian perspective through the traditional activity of cooking in a Hawaiian imu, or underground oven.
Over the course of two days, ASB managers and executives experienced a variety of cultural traditions including preparing the imu, cooking traditional foods, coconut palm weaving, chanting, and listening to Hawaiian legends. The story of ‘Umi and the concept of servant-leadership resonated with the group as they watched Rich Wacker, ASB President and CEO, step into the pit to set the pohaku (stones) and light the ahi (fire).
A major concept behind the practice of imu is Laulima – many hands coming together in unity. Alone, creating an imu would be a daunting task, but with the help of many friends the work goes quickly. The leaders of ASB were naturals at working together and made it through the variety of new challenges presented with ease.
As part of this traditional Hawaiian experience, participants prepared and cooked a 135 pound pig, 4 trays of lau lau, sweet potatoes, lomi salmon, luau stew, chicken long rice, kulolo, and haupia. After a feast at the end of the event, the excess food was donated to PIDF’s Ka Pa‘alana Homeless Family Education program for our many clients along the leeward coast of O‘ahu.
Many mahalos to American Savings Bank, the Hawaii Tourism Authority, and Hui Nohona (the culture team) at the Partners in Development Foundation for making this wonderful event possible.