Sunday, November 8, 2009

Naki Family of Moloka'i

OC16, a local tv channel, has started to show and replay a "Skindiver" episode this week about Moloka'i featuring two brothers, Walter and Raymond Naki. There are two families in particular on Moloka'i that everyone on the island knows or are related to- the Nakis and the Dudoits.

I am very fortunate that I know the Naki family through its matriarch, Juanna ("Auntie JoJo") Naki Pi'iali'i. JoJo is one of those rare joyous salt-of-the-earth people. She is a strong Christian and her favorite phrase is "Thank You, Jesus!" I felt an instant heart connection to her when I met her on the Big Island with Auntie Dutchie, oh, fifteen years ago. I was giving a retreat based on the teachings of Nana Veary and Auntie Dutchie agreed to be a guest speaker.

Walter is Auntie JoJo's son and Raymond is Auntie JoJo's youngest brother. They are close in age so they were brought up together on Moloka'i like brothers. Auntie JoJo's father, the pastor and founder of "The Gospel Shoes of Christ" church outside of Kaunakakai, taught his boys all the secret places on the island and in the sea to fish and hunt. Walter has a business appropriately called "Ma'a (familiar with) Hawai'i" where he takes visitors on hunting, fishing and boating trips around the island.

I won't forget that Auntie JoJo told me proudly when I first met her that when the Nakis have a luau or pa'ina on Molokai'i that they have the most crashers (so cute!) because everyone knows that they have the best fishermen and hunters in Walter and Raymond. They, along with their sons and nephews, will start stocking the freezers with fish, lobsters, crabs, hihiwai (freshwater opihi)and game for weeks before the event.

Getting back to that episode, I was just so touched to hear Walter and Raymond speak movingly of their Hawaiian stewardship of their island home's bounty. Walter talked about taking what they need, not what they want, and sharing the rest. When he drives home he might come across a less fortunate fisherman and he would offer part of his catch to him. He talked of sharing with the kupuna who love to fish but maybe "no can already". This is Moloka'i style, their culture.

Raymond is active in restoring the ancient Hawaiian fishponds on the island. Both brothers have quietly helped scores of previously troubled youths who have become ohana. Auntie Ruthie (JoJo's sister) told me that she came across a young man she didn't know, who told her that his "Dad" was Walter because the young man had hanai'd Walter (usually it's the other way around with the adult adopting the child, of course).

On this episode Raymond said "We care and share. We live to give." To hear Raymond say it, it is simple but profound.

The shots on this show are astonishing. It shows both guys free diving down to 20 or 30 feet or more. Then incredibly it shows them waiting patiently, all the while holding their breath, for the perfect shot of their prey. This is old style, no scuba gear, no metal rods, using wood spear guns although I did notice they had the latest fins. I don't know how much time it took to do the filming but it shows them gathering Kahala, Opelu, Moana Kea, He'e... and going after Ula (lobster, also affectionately called "Bugs"), Ulua and Uhu.

As I've said several times before I feel honored to know such interesting and passionate people in these Islands, our home.


Anonymous said...

Wow, sounds like a cool show and a very nice family! Have you had the pleasure of being part of one of their luaus? You should crash the next one and tell us all about it!

Anonymous said...

aloha E Marylene
nice to hear whats on your mind and to hear about Aunty Jojo's amazing family. Love, C

Anonymous said...

I love this story, I was a visitor to a Naki family reunion and the love that family shared was so overwhelming I ended up in tears myself. Uncle Raymond and his nephews Warne and Isaac Naki are walking history books on Molokai and the families. I've been back several times and plan on going again this time maybe I can get in on an island trip.

Benjamin Rodrigues said...

That's my ohana been looking for the video so you happen to know what episode it was? Or have a link to it?