6th Maui Biz Fest hosts Hawaiian Maui students

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Photo by Landon Ballesteros

Junior Mahina Bantilan and seniors Zoey Pelayo and Kekoa Uyechi sit in on the Sixth Annual Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce.

Landon Ballesteros

By Landon Ballesteros, news writer

WAILEA, MAUI – Seventeen Kamehameha Schools Maui upperclassmen along with several members of the Ipu Kukui enrichment program spent the day at the Grand Wailea Resort to attend the 6th Annual Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce Business Festival on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012.

“What really stuck out to me was Ramsay Taum’s (KSK ’78) presentation about sustainability through Hawaiian values, which are business values,”  junior business student Aaren Soriano said.

Taum is a lecturer with the University of Hawai’i, Manoa’s School of Travel Industry Management, as well as the president and founder of the Life Enhancement Institute of the Pacific.

Many of the students were wowed by Taum, who explained the roots of Hawaiian history and how that contributes to who Hawaiians are today.

“We tend to use the language, but it’s based on definitions of the contemporary space, and so we fool ourselves into thinking that we’re actually operating from a set of Hawaiian values, when in actuality, we just applied Western continental context and language definitions to our Hawaiian words,” he said.

His wit, comedy and the relevance of his presentation connected well with the students.

Junior health services student Neʻula Aarona said she loved the presentation and learned about “how important it is to go back to your roots and where you came from, and how efficiency and success in a business…can come from the concepts that our ancestors based their whole life upon.”

“We’re creating a better future for generations because they’re in the room today,” Taum said while the guests enjoyed a luncheon of salad, roasted chicken, freshly baked rolls, and a coffee dessert.

The students sat with adult guests instead of fellow students, giving them the opportunity to make contact and converse with business owners from the community.

Throughout the day, students listened to speeches and panel discussions from a number of political candidates including senatorial candidate Linda Lingle and seven candidates for Office of Hawaiian Affairs Maui Representative. The seven candidates were Dain Kāne, Doreen Nāpua Gomes, Johanna Amorin, Glenn Au, Carmen Hulu Lindsey, Jonah Kapu, and Rose Marie Duey.

Each candidate gave a brief history of their backgrounds and spoke about the experience they have in serving the Hawaiian community as well as what they hope to do if elected.

“I think the OHA candidate interviews were very deep and very motivational because it’s like us Hawaiians trying to become…a better society for our future and our descendants,” junior business student Aaren Soriano said.

Students also attended other forums by local business owners who spoke about current Maui projects, such as the proposed Pulehunui project for mixed-use development in Puʻunēnē.

After lunch, the Kamehameha Maui and Ipu Kukui students chanted the oli mahalo for guests and collaborators, and the rest of the afternoon was spent listening in on forums about the upcoming Waiohuli Community Center, Hawaiian values and economic development.

The event ended with Kumu Keliʻi Tauʻa chanting the first part of the Kumulipo and everyone singing “Hawaiʻi Aloha.”

“My favorite part of today’s event was experiencing and learning about how businesses become successful…how to become one of those successful people…and to help others out in the community,” said Soriano, who plans, in the long run, to own his own law firm.

One of the six co-founders of the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, Mercer Chubby Vicens, was impressed with the success of the event.

“I’ve had chicken skin all day,” he said.

Vicens said that one of the best benefits of the business festival is the ability to understand Hawaiian identity and to collaborate with others.

“There is no ‘I’ in the Native Hawaiian Chamber. Only ‘we,’” he said.