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Voice of the Kupuna

October 31, 2013
John A. Hau‘oli Tomoso - MSW, ACSW, LSW · Board Member Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce , Maui Weekly

When I was very young, my parents imparted to me the importance of relationships and how one must behave toward others. By watching those around me, I learned that relating to others was about being inclusive, satisfying and mutual. By adulthood, this "respect" and "gentleness" was very much a part of my being. Inclusion means you didn't have to be "'oiwi"--native--in order to practice respect, gentility and inclusion. Of course, these are Hawaiian values passed down generation upon generation to me.

Today, I like being a part of the MNHCoC because I am surrounded by these same values as I interact professionally and personally with fellow members. More importantly, I carry these values to my relationships throughout our Maui community; I conduct business based on them.

As a Native Hawaiian, my "nohona"--way of life--speaks to the respect and gentleness that I grew up with. Hawai'i is known for "Aloha Spirit" that lives within and among all of us. Remember the "Live Aloha" campaign in the '80s and '90s? I still see those eye-catching bumper stickers on many vehicles plying our roads.

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‘Ōlelo Pā‘oihana
John A. Hau‘oli Tomoso
MSW, ACSW, LSW · Board Member Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce

One press release said, "Aloha is... the embodiment of the essence of Hawai'i!" When I first read it, I immediately thought about growing up Hawaiian here on Maui and how my 'ohana taught me to relate to people. A later media ad stated that aloha is a "way of life." Yes, it's my way of life. I can hear my grandparents saying, "Ahe aloha, ka nohona Hawai'i Nei"--"Aloha, our way of life."

I think living aloha is also about knowing what is not said, seeing what cannot be seen and knowing the unknowable. This is where listening, respectful relationships, watching and waiting to see things develop come in. At MNHCoC, we practice this kind of "knowing." We choose to understand and nurture the way Native Hawaiians can conduct business--in a framework of deep and lasting relationships, like the enduring values I grew up with.

The MNHCoC mission helps us keep our business relationships respectful and gentle. A recent board meeting addressed how to promote "friendly business relationships." We all immediately discussed the important values each of us grew up with. An action plan was easily reached because we relate to one another based on a consensus that is embedded in our Hawaiian values, which have endured generation after generation.

I believe the MNHCoC can help our greater community "conduct business" with aloha!

I am blessed to be a part of MNHCoC, a business organization that believes in and lives all these important values:


to manage and encourage everyone


to nurture growth


to offer hospitality to all


to consistently continue and pursue


to help and assist with all


to accept and carry out responsibility


to pitch in and cooperate with all

Malama 'aina

to take care of the land


determined, firmly fixed and focused


excellence in achieving

In all of these values, these actions, these behaviors, these relationships, I can hear the gracious yet forceful voices of my ancestors--of my kupuna. They are a part of me and I want to share them with everyone. 'O wau, I am happy, respectfully and gently being Hawaiian.



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