With her gentle spirit and vast cultural knowledge, Makalapua Kanuha has been a welcoming presence at The Westin Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas since 2010. Originally from Òahu, she now serves as the resort's Cultural Advisor, working specifically with the activities team overseeing the lei making classes, hula-dancing lessons and coconut-frond weaving sessions.
But, where you'll mainly find Makalapua is at the Pu‘uhonua Culture Center sharing her mana‘o (knowledge) and culture with Owners and Guests. If you are privileged enough to witness one of her Hawaiian welcome chants (oli), you'll see how Makalapua truly embraces the spirit of aloha.
Now, as The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas comes to life, she is also overseeing the development of the resort's cultural platform and authenticity.
Here, Makalapua shares her definition of nanea and what makes Maui the best place to discover your own nanea.
Nanea can mean different things to different people. How have you embraced the meaning of nanea in your everyday life?
Every day is a gift for me. I choose to embrace life with great appreciation for my home, Hawai‘i. Living with purpose is to pass down the teachings of our kupuna (elders) to our future generations and is a privilege that I don’t take lightly.
What makes Maui so perfect for discovering the true meaning of nanea?
When I see our majestic mountains it puts me in that state of nanea. The rising and setting of the sun on Haleakalā; the waters of life from Mauna Kahalawai; and the hill of enlightenment at Puúkukui. These are the elements that are a welcoming reminder for me to appreciate the beauty of my home and to mālama ka‘āina (care for the land) for our future generations so, they too, will experience nanea.
What should visitors take away from their experience in Maui?
I believe the most important cultural aspect is learning about our sense of place. This will give our Owners and Guests the opportunity to get kamaáina (familiar) with their "home away from home."