A Conversation with Puni Kukahiko on the Halekulani Hotel

Downwind Productions (DW)__Puni, look at this postcard from the 1950s of the Halekulani Hotel. It shows the restaurant, stage and tree that you talk about all the time.

Puni Kukahiko (PK)__We've been going here to listen to music for so long, it's ironic that Kaipo (Puni's husband) plays here now.


Judging from the angle that this postcard is made from, it seems that the beach must have been much wider. The sand, that was carted in to widen the beach, must have washed away. Now there is a concrete walk and fence there. During the summer, young boys from Waikiki come and jump off the fence into the water, yelling and laughing. It's wonderful. On the right side of the picture, behind the server, there are these thorny bushes that the hotel planted to keep out non-hotel people.

This postcard is kind of beautiful and disgusting at the same time. On one hand it is so kitsch. It shows how Waikiki and Hawaiian music has been so commodified. But on the other, it is a place of my past. When I listened to music, even on the radio, this is the place it came from. The music is a stronghold of Hawaiian knowledge - so much of our culture and history are still there.