In ancient Hawaiian history, the village of Laie played the role of being a place of refuge. People who had broken the king’s law or had become outcasts from their own villages were able to find sanctuary in Laie. Later, in 1865, the LDS church purchased the land. After that, members of the church from the South Pacific began to move into Laie, hence it became a “gathering place” for all the Saints of the Pacific.
It was this “gathering place” that became the birthplace for the Laie Hukilau. 1945 saw the end of World War II. With the end came the return of the simple island life. A desire to build a new chapel, after the old one had burned down, became a new community project. After a few unsuccessful attempts at fundraising, the decision was made in 1947 to pull together the hukilau.
Many different talents were to be found among this small group of people. Viola Kawahigashi handled the business and public relations, Hamana Kalili and Robert Kahawaii were two of the fishermen that took care of the laying of the net, the relief society took care of food, gifts and hand crafted items, and many others, including Christina Nauahi, took care of costumes. The entertainment portion of the luau was opened to all who wanted to participate.
By 1956 the chapel had become a reality and the saints had completed their original goal and purpose for the hukilaus. However, it continued on til 1971 when finally it had served its fundraising purpose.The announcement to end the hukilaus was received with mixed emotions. The preparation and the excitement would be missed, but at the same time most agreed that it was time for the hukilau days to come to an end.
Majority of research and text by Paulina Siufanua