Imu Workshop Taught by Uncle Calvin Hoe - Friday, April 20, 2007

Mālama ‘Āina Foundation sponsored an Imu Workshop from Friday morning to Saturday afternoon, March 30 to March 31, at Hakipu‘u Learning Center’s Kualoa Beach Park site. On Friday, students from Hakipu‘u Learning Center, Roosevelt High School, and Kamehameha Schools enjoyed Uncle Calvin’s ‘olelo on the Hakipu‘u ahupua‘a, hiked within Hakipu‘u’s beautiful mountains, picked luau leaves and harvested kalo, and prepared the food and imu for cooking.

Most of the participants camped overnight, and in the morning, uncovered the imu, gathered the food, and had pa‘ina around noon. Uncle Cal also taught some of the youth how to make and play the nose flute and pū (see the accompanying ‘short story’ by Treyson Furuta).



by Treyson Furuta
(with big, big help from Grandma Karen!)

I thought to myself—here we go again, my Grandma Karen dragging me to something she thinks I NEED TO LEARN or something she thinks I NEED TO EXPERIENCE or better yet, that she thinks I WILL ENJOY! What does she know about what I want to do to have FUN and, mostly, she uses me to have company on her days and nights out when she wants to have FUN!

Anyway, she drags me off to Kualoa Beach Park for a camp sleepover to do an IMU WORKSHOP! I’m already scared for what’s going to happen because the night before we shopped at Wal-Mart for some tabi’s, a heavy jacket, mosquito punk, and a sleeping bag. Didn’t Grandma forget to buy a shotgun, and most of all, SNACKS?

Greeting us at the camp is Uncle Buddy, Uncle Mike, Uncle Calvin and a bunch of students and chaperones. Mehana and myself are the only two young ones and, of course, Grandma is the oldest person there.

Once at Kualoa, we get ready to go into the wilds by way of canoe. Soon, everyone is busy paddling in two double-hull canoes. For a small kid like me, that’s plenty hard work! We reach the other side of the water to be greeted not by sand, but mud! Lots and lots of mud, which I hate! I love Grandma for buying me tabi’s—it saved me from a life of mud! I don’t like to get dirty. But my new friend, Mehana (four years old), is growing on me as my idol---she takes to the mud, loving it and happy making mud pies! Mehana doesn’t fear anything!

Swishing and sliding through a muddy stream and then a shrimp farm (I think), we then start our hike up into the mountains to pick luau leaves for the laulau. After crossing streams and taking a few falls, we reach a nice, green patch and pick all the luau leaves we need. Of course, I was no help at all! Grandma too—absolutely useless! Us city people get tired real fast. Then, we sat down on wet grass and stones to eat lunch—tuna or peanut butter sandwiches. The food was real good—everything tastes ono when hungry and miserable. Up to this point, I got a blister on my left ankle and went through three band aids.

After lunch, Uncle Calvin says we need to hike further up to pick kalo (taro). I’m beginning to take notice of Uncle Calvin because he does things really good and always for a reason. Along the way, we pick up limes and guava. Also, by this time, we are all looking gorgeous (all dirty and sweaty), and ready to return—hiking down the mountain, going through the mud, and then canoeing back to camp.

Back at camp, we have more work to do. Putting the laulaus together, weaving the baskets for the sweet potatoes and kalo, gathering the banana leaves—it’s all part of the learning process. The students listen to Uncle Calvin and his staff, and then do what they have to do. The imu is laid, packed and covered—everyone around gathers to watch or help out. This is my first imu workshop and learning about how Hawaiians make an imu was fun (and plenty hard work!). The Hawaiians are very smart and know what they doing!

Don’t ask me anything after this because I was out—snoring and sniffling in Uncle Buddy’s tent. I ate dinner, and then I slept all the way through until morning.

The next morning, everyone woke up bright and early. Uncle Calvin taught me how to make and play my own bamboo nose flute and pu—something I can “show and tell” at school. I am so proud of my two new possessions. Thank you, Uncle Calvin!

Now, it was time to open the imu and out came all the ono food. Uncle Calvin even made lauhala plates to eat out of and served the most delicious lime-aid drinks (the limes picked in the mountains the day before). All the food was delicious, even to the point that I forgot about all my aches and pains.

At the end of the workshop, everything was all good. Nobody was hurt, we went on a great, big adventure, and we had lots of ono food at the end. Thank you, everyone, for such a great lesson in nature and Hawaiian culture! And, thank you, Grandma Karen, for letting me share in this experience!

Trevor Lee