Embracing the Aloha Spirit

The IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 embraced the “Aloha Spirit” throughout the Congress. 

Traditional Hawaiian dancers at the IUCN Congress closing ceremony Photo: IUCN / Maegan Gindi

The IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 embraced the “Aloha Spirit” throughout the Congress. Each morning during the Members’ Assembly, The Aloha Spirit Law was displayed on large screens helping to raise the level of conscientiousness towards the value of Aloha. The “Aloha Spirit” was palpable even during the sometimes contentious debates in the Members’ Assembly. 

The Hawaiʻi statutes describe the “Aloha Spirit” well:

Hawaii Revised Statutes [§5-7.5]  "Aloha Spirit".  (a)  "Aloha Spirit" is the coordination of mind and heart within each person.  It brings each person to the self.  Each person must think and emote good feelings to others.  In the contemplation and presence of the life force, "Aloha", the following unuhi laula loa may be used:

"Akahai", meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness;     

"Lokahi", meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;

"Oluolu", meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;

"Ha‘aha‘a", meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;

"Ahonui", meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

These are traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii's people.  It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii.  "Aloha" is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation.  "Aloha" means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return.  "Aloha" is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence.  "Aloha" means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.

     (b)  In exercising their power on behalf of the people and in fulfillment of their responsibilities, obligations and service to the people, the legislature, governor, lieutenant governor, executive officers of each department, the chief justice, associate justices, and judges of the appellate, circuit, and district courts may contemplate and reside with the life force and give consideration to the "Aloha Spirit". [L 1986, c 202, §1]

These thoughts were shared by Aunty Pilahi Paki in 1970 at the Governor’s Conference as they looked forward to the new millennium. The prediction was that the world would turn to Hawai‘i, and in 2016 the world came to Hawaiʻi to find answers at the IUCN World Conservation Congress where delegates embraced the “Aloha Spirit” in their deliberations.

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