APEC Swag Bag Showcases Iconic Hawaii Goods

By Chad Blair
Honolulu Civil Beat

Hawaiian Host chocolate-covered macadamia nuts? Yep.

Tori Richard gift card? Of course.

Mountain Apple CD? Israel Kamakawiwoole or the Brothers Cazimero.

Kona Coffee? 100 percent!

That’s just a sampling of the goodies from 15 local companies that were selected to fill hospitality gift bags from the APEC Host Committee.

The bags — 9,500 of them — are being given to APEC attendees (including media) at the Hawaii Convention Center.

The swag bags also include a note from committee chair Peter Ho: “A tradition dating back to ancient Hawaiian times, giving a makana (gift) incorporates the Hawaiian values of aloha and malama.”

And, there’s also a card from Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, that includes a quote from an idol of McCartney’s, kupuna Auntie Pilahi Paki: The world will turn to Hawaii as they search for world peace because Hawaii has the key … and that key is aloha.”

APEC Gift Set

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— Photo by Heidi Pliszka, Civil Beat

Wanted: Chocolate, Lotions, Guides

The host committee sent out its “request for qualifications” in July, which identified the specific goods it was seeking from “qualified and reliable suppliers.”

They included, naturally, coffee, mac nuts and music but also city guides, crafts, sports, soaps and lotions. They also had to fit into a gift bag (which apparently ruled out surfboards from HIC).

The gifts are packaged into a a box specially designed by Jon Duarte of Jon Duarte Design Group.

Some companies donated the goods, others were paid for their products. The contents of each bag differ slightly, depending on the capacity of the vendors.

“These Hawaii companies were able to provide a wide variety of products to create truly unique hospitality gifts for our APEC guests,” Ho said in a press release dated Nov. 1. “This is a wonderful opportunity for each of our guests to bring a little bit of Hawaii back home, and share with others the individual products that represent the aloha spirit and hospitality of our islands.”

The “malama makana” doesn’t stop there.

Local companies like Hawaiian Chip Company, Honolulu Cookie Company and Hawaiian Springs are providing snacks at the Convention Center’s Exhibit Hall.

In addition to the hospitality gift boxes, each of the leaders from the 21 APEC economies will receive a one-of-a-kind framed painting created by local artist Kelly Sueda. The painting for President Barack Obama, for example, depicts images of Kailua Bay with the Koolau in the distance.

Iz’s ‘Hawaii ’78’

While the hospitality gift bag symbolizes the best that Hawaii has to offer, it is worth pointing out that recipients of the Braddah Iz CD may be in for a — well, different perspective on Hawaii Nei.

The CD, “Facing Future,” includes Kamakawiwoole’s most popular song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World,” and the lovely “White Sandy Beach of Hawaii.”

But it also includes the song “Hawaii ’78,” which imagines a Hawaiian king and queen visiting the Hawaii of today — a far different Hawaii than that of the 19th century.

Sample lyric:

Could you just imagine if they came back
And saw traffic lights and railroad tracks
How would they feel about this modern city life
Tears would come from each others eyes as
They would stop to realize
That our land is in great, great danger now

Kamakawiwoole’s conclusion of how a past monarch would react to modern Hawaii comes in the final stanza:

Cry for the gods, cry for the people
Cry for the lands that were taken away
And in it you’ll find Hawaii

Welcome, APEC! And remember to avoid Kapiolani Boulevard!

— Courtesy of Honolulu Civil Beat