The ocean was crossed on Sunday night when Hui ‘O Hawai’i Club
hosted the 18th annual Lu’au.
The club brought the food, music, dancing and decorations from a
traditional Hawaiian Lu’au to the Lory Student Center Main
This year’s theme was “Discovering Polynesia,” and according to
Gloria Matsushita, a junior biology major and president of Hui
O’Hawai’i, a major aspect of the celebration was education.
“Some people don’t realize Hawaii has its own culture,”
Matsushita said. “People think of hula and surfers, but it’s more
than that; there’s a history behind it.”
To encourage education, the event planners had booths set up
offering the history behind the lu’au and then held a trivia
contest during it.
In addition to gaining more knowledge about the Hawaiian
culture, attendees also left with a taste of the islands.
The night included authentic Hawaiian food cooked entirely by
volunteers. The menu consisted of Kalua pig, chicken laulau, lomi
lomi salmon, poi and steamed rice.
Many of the ingredients for the meal came directly from the
“With just the ingredients we have in Fort Collins it wouldn’t
be possible,” Matsushita said.
Niki Kerkow, a senior microbiology major, has been coming to the
lu’au with her best friend, who is Hawaiian, since her freshman
“The best part is the food,” Kerkow said. “You can’t find this
stuff (in Fort Collins).”
In addition to the food, many of the flowers also came from
“I think the most important thing is the smell,” Matsushita
said. “The flowers create that smell of Hawaii, bringing Hawaii to
In the end, the entire shipment from Hawaii cost $750 to send.
Much of the cargo consisted of donations from families of Hawaiian
“Opening the crates was like Christmas,” Matsushita said.
The ballroom was decorated with fabrics and flowers, which
created a feeling of being in the tropics.
“You walk in and even though it’s a familiar space, you feel
that this is a unique program,” said Linda Ahuna, director of
Asian/Pacific American Student Services. “You feel the
Melissa Masaki, a junior zoology major who is from Hawaii,
described the atmosphere as “welcoming.”
Masaki has been participating in the event since her freshman
“I’m from there, so I like to support my culture,” Masaki
Pride in one’s culture is what drives many of the
“People don’t want the tradition to disappear,” Ahuna said.
“This helps them keep in touch with their culture.”
Approximately 80 people helped out with the event and have been
working on it for the last year. Twenty to 30 of those were
The show had traditional dances from a number of different
places, including Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa and New Zealand.
The dancers have been practicing since November, Matsushita
said. Many of the dancers had never hula-danced before. They simply
A wide variety of people came to the Lu’au. Matsushita said the
majority of the tickets were sold to non-students.
“A lot of faculty and staff bring their families,” she said.
The main goal of the Lu’au was to educate the campus, Matsushita
“Besides good food and entertainment there’s an appreciation for
a cultural experience,” Ahuna said. “It’s an event that educates
people. They find out things about Hawaiian culture they may not
For Ahuna the best part of the Lu’au was when all the dancers
got up and sang the Hawaiian national anthem together.
“For me that makes me feel really proud,” Ahunda said. “I’m glad
for them because they know they’ve done a great job and that
everything that’s happened has been worth it.’