Kawika Foster is a traditional practitioner of Hawaiian culture and traditions. He was accepted as a student of Kumu Paa Lawrence Aki in 2007 and has gone on to establish Mana O Kahiko, a healing centre offering retreats, workshops and private sessions. He is one of the featured presenters at this year’s Spirit Festival.
Kawika, can you tell me how growing up in Hawaii helped inform your practice of healing and knowledge? I was in Oahu recently and was amazed by the stories I was told about the many places I went to. It was like a whole other history existed alongside the one you read in books!
Hawaii has a very rich cultural heritage that is as much a part of the islands as the plants, animals and the vast array of the physical characteristics each island embodies. The islands capture a distinct sense of place; by understanding how these features relate to one another and therefore your relationship to each place you’re able to deepen your knowledge. From an ancestral perspective in healing Akua, or the higher power, must come first. When you begin learning in the islands of Hawaii the knowing of the existence of a higher power is brought into your awareness culturally from a very early age. It’s an understanding that is shared through stories, dance and chant.
The first is to love one another unconditionally. You don’t have to condone what others do, but you must love them anyway. Many of the teachings our ancestors have passed down to us are simple; however, we have a tendency as human beings to make things complicated.
Another teaching is Nana I Ke Kumu, which means ‘look to the source’ – the source being our elders, our ancestors. It is very important in our culture to love and cherish our elders. It is knowing that if it were not for the perseverance of our ancestors we would not be here. We look to them so we can understand and therefore know where we are going.
What did you take from your master’s work that you still practise today?
Short answer is all of it.
Our lineage holds within it 50 generations of Kumu which, translated today, means ‘teacher’. I have been chosen to become the 51st generation to preserve and perpetuate the knowledge and wisdom that they have handed down to us. Many of us forget, some of us remember; the point is that this knowledge and wisdom have not been lost.
Why do you think alternative modalities are important in this modern age?
Alternative modalities are important for most people because they help to remind them of the relationship they have to themselves and more importantly to a higher power outside of themselves.
Why do you think with so much modern advancement in medicine etc that we still look towards the esoteric?
If we look to the past we will know where to go in the future.
How does holding knowledge make people better healers?
All the knowledge in the world means nothing if it isn’t utilised with wisdom.
There is something definitely different about the Hawaiian approach to life. What is it, do you think? I have never heard people say Thank You so much! Is it about gratitude?
In one word it’s Ohana which, translated, means ‘family’. We give thanks to our family. In the thinking of our ancestors everything in this universe is family because we were not created, we were born. Therefore we are not separate, we are not alone but we are connected; we are one.
What will you be sharing at Spirit Festival and how can people engage with your work?
At the Spirit Festival I will be sharing the foundations of the thinking and teachings of Ho’oponopono, which is the cultural practice of making things right by forgiving, forgetting, and remembering. I will also be sharing the basics of Hula, our cultural practice of dance, another form of prayer. If people are inspired to learn more about the kind of work that I do, we offer workshops, retreat trainings and seminars through out the year in Hawaii, Australia and Europe. For information I encourage people to visit our website manaokahiko.com or friend us on Facebook ManaOKahiko.
Spirit Festival in Mullumbimby, Friday till Sunday. Check out the program on www.spiritfestival.com.au.