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Naturally Untouched:
Asking for continued guidance with Cultural Ambassador Sig Zane

The generations that came before us provide guidance through the journey of Waiola Life. Sig Zane is a wealth of Hawaiian knowledge and wisdom, perpetuating traditions and indigenous culture in his daily practices. You see it in his professional life with Sig Zane Designs as each piece– no matter if it’s a shirt, skirt, airplane or hotel– an aesthetically pleasing, vehicle to creatively share authentic Hawaiian culture. In his personal life, Sig is a Hawaiian practitioner pursuing many passions: fishing, surfing, horticulture, art and hula. When at home in Hilo, Sig surfs everyday before going into the Sig Zane Designs office. After a session at Honol‘i, he gave us some personal insight on the traditional ceremony that was conducted for the inception of company and the kaona (deeper meaning) behind the name Waiola.

Waiola Life: Where did you conduct this traditional, cultural protocol on Hawai‘i Island for the inception of Waiola?

Sig Zane: Kumukahi is the eastern most point. We go there to start things brand new–as with the sun rising a new day begins same thing with a company or an endeavor. We select that eastern most point, where the sun first rises as the starting point. That is a practice that has been done in many, many protocol. Especially in hula when a hālau first enters a stage they usually start with the “Ho‘opuka e ka lā”, which is the rising of the sun, so it’s very significant culturally.

While you and your son, Kuha‘o, were chanting and preparing the ho‘okupu (offering), why did you instruct our founder to plant a coconut tree near the site?

All of what we do we think about reciprocation. As he takes life and as he harvests all these coconuts and uses them for business, I thought it was important for him to also plant the coconut to again continue life. “Waiola,” the term means “water of life.” You cannot just keep taking, you have to give back and so symbolically planting that tree, making sure that he goes back so he can nurture the tree and mālama (care for) it–same thing goes for the company. We want to nurture
everything in a most positive reciprocal way.

Since you graciously named the brand, what is the deeper meaning or kaona of the name, Waiola?

It is the water of life–it is the nourishing food that feeds our body. “Waiola” is a term that comes from chants. The gods, Kāne and Kanaloa, would go around the islands and in their search for water they would always use that “Waiola” and that is the “water of life” because without water there is no life. Even in the questioning of people: “Who are you?” Hawaiians use that metaphor of wai (water): “O wai ‘oe? (Who are you? Or what waters do you come from?)” That water is really your genealogy because that water is what you’re born in within your mother.

What does the ho‘okupu signify in Hawaiian culture?

The ho‘okupu is the offering to the gods and each of the parts of that ho‘okupu–the kalo (taro), the ulu (breadfruit), the ‘ōlena (gineger), the pa‘akai (salt), the uala (sweet potato) and all those things–are really the offering of goods that we want in return. So all of the ingredients in that ho‘okupu is really the food for the gods that they guide us and they provide. The entire ceremony is really the ritual, it is the ceremony, it is the protocol. It is the ingredients that sum up the entire ritual of mahalo (thanks) and the asking for guidance.

Who composed the lyrics for this chant?

The chants that we use are not new, and they are adapted to the current situation. Those are all chants from Aunty Kekuhi that we use to communion with the gods, and to be specific to what we are doing we insert the term or whatever we are doing. So what Kuha‘o did was a very old chant just made for Waiola. The words speak of our humble offering of ‘awa to the gods. They call out the gods that we invoke. Kuha‘o recited this traditional pule as we ask the gods to watch over Waiola.

Why is important to have a Hawaiian blessing for a new endeavor like a coconut water company?

Well, I think that the Hawaiian practitioner is really in-tune with the universe and we always have to acknowledge the elements and the place. All of that is communication with the gods and the ancestors that is what we are trying to achieve. It really isn’t the blessing, yeah? It’s really the asking for continued guidance.