Students discover Polynesia

Apr 252004
Authors: Leigh Pogue

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

like dancing.

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

have known.”

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.’

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