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Editor's Page: Love Stories

Our Holiday Annual celebrates Hawaii.


Photo: Linny Morris

Our November holiday annual—this our 122nd—is always one of the biggest issues of the year. We look forward to producing it because we know we’ll have the room to do what we do best: present great writing and photography about Hawaii and its people. As we do for each Holiday Annual, we sought out history pieces, photo essays and articles on Hawaiian culture.

I thought we were pursuing the usual Holiday Annual mix this year, too. Looking at the articles in their final proofs, however, it hit me—we’ve assembled a collection of love stories.

Countless writers, Shakespeare and Chaucer included, have said that love enters through the eye. This month’s photo essays should have that effect on you, including the winners of our photo contest (page 140). Our first-place winner suggests that Honolulu can be loved as an urban environment, while our second place winner reminds us why people all around the world love to come to Hawaii.

Photographer Paul Chesley, a freelancer with the National Geographic Society, shows us the Liliha he knows and loves and has been chronicling since 2005 (“Liliha Moments,” page 53). Photographer Mark Arbeit explores Native Hawaiian festivals and landscapes of the Big Island (“Close to You,” page 74), and what could it be but love that animates these images? Love for a culture in the faces of his subjects, in the execution of the images.

“Hawaii’s Most Endangered Places” is a kind of love story. Our partners in this annual public-awareness project, Historic Hawaii Foundation and the Hawaii State Historic Preservation Division, determined which of our historic buildings are at risk, what makes them worth saving and what can be done to keep these treasures with us. 

Then there is the article that made me see the love-story theme in the issue, “Contenders to the Throne.” Much has been written over the years about the sovereignty movement, or the Akaka Bill, but senior writer Michael Keany was fascinated by the lesser known Hawaiian groups who insist that an independent Hawaiian kingdom never ended, such as the group that barricaded Iolani Palace’s gates in May 2008. Keany found 10 such groups, all run by people who claim to be king, or queen, or ministers of their respective versions of this uninterrupted monarchy.

Everyone Keany interviewed insisted that his or her kingdom exists in the here and now, that it is real and they are its caretakers. Each believes the whole world will eventually come to acknowledge this truth.

The practical world of law and government thinks differently, and their devotion to their kingdoms could seem sad or delusional. Maybe, but it is also human and understandable. Who hasn’t said, of something in their lives, “I wish things could go back to the way they were.” It’s easy to get stuck in that place, pining for a lost Eden.

And yet, no one Keany interviewed sounded sad. In fact, they beam with optimism and self-assurance, animated by their royal purpose.

Love will do that to you.

 For more of Napier's writing, see his “Off My Desk” blog.


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Honolulu Magazine March 2017
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