National Geographic : 1975 Mar
collection of relics-a feathered cloak, faded monochromes of kings and queens, and mas sive furniture carved to suit royal tastes. All of it was informative, and I honor the Daughters of Hawaii who protect it with loving care. But even more I honor a living link with old Hawaii: Iolani Luahine, the palace curator (page 424). Few tourists who pass through the building realize that the shy, gray-haired woman who may be their guide is herself a Hawaiian treasure. Her great-aunt was a royal dancer in King Kalakaua's court. Iolani is an authority on the traditional hula and its music. But it is clear that islanders give her other honors. Virtually everyone we met on Kailua's streets -teenagers, fishermen, truck drivers-had a smile of special warmth for Iolani. She can pacify Pele, goddess of volcanoes, one Hawaiian told me. She has the power to talk with wild creatures, another said. But as we lunched, Iolani instructed me in more down-to-earth things. "There is one finger poi and two-finger poi," she said. "For in the traditional way, poi is dipped up and eaten from the fingers. If it is thick enough, one can twirl a mouthful around one finger." She gestured at the bowl of purplish gruel beside my plate. "This restaurant poi is too watery; two-finger poi." Failure to Act Like a God Proves Fatal Hawaiians refer to foreigners as haoles, and Iolani told me what the term meant. "When the Europeans began to arrive, our priests decided that their own gods were more powerful than the strangers' god," Iolani said. "So they called the strangers haoles, the empty, or powerless ones."