Third Grade Lū‘au: A Celebration of Togetherness

Lisa Doran P ’28, ’32 PFA Grade 3 Rep 

Excitement is growing as Punahou School’s annual third grade lū‘au is fast approaching! On May 19, the Class of 2032 will come together in celebration as they participate in nā pāʻani, games and partake in meaʻai Hawaiʻi, Hawaiian food that they helped to cultivate and prepare. 

For many years, Kumu BJ Namba has been a guiding force leading faculty and students through the journey of lū‘au. In her words, “The most important thing about third grade lū‘au is that it is such a tradition. It’s one of those Punahou things that people will always remember … The kumu try to have students understand that the Hawaiians of old had this special connection to their ‘āina, and we want our students to have that as well.”

One of the wonderful, beloved traditions of the third grade lū‘au is the opportunity for teachers, parents and students to come together as one ‘ohana to prepare for the event. For weeks, parents have been taking time to join the third grade kumu in working with their classes as they get ready. From husking coconuts, weaving plates and making lei po‘o lauhala, all the way to learning the techniques to prepare delicious traditional lū‘au food, there are numerous ways for families to share the experience with their children. In fact, it is so much more than a volunteer opportunity.

Lū‘au is a time of ka hui pū ʻana, or togetherness, that highlights the power of working as a team. It shows us that whether people are related, acquaintances, friends or have just met, when we all come together to kōkua, we can achieve miraculous things. It teaches us to learn and respect Hawaiian traditions and appreciate one of the most important lessons we can learn from this rich, beautiful culture – that we all are connected. We are connected to the land, connected to the aloha spirit, and connected to each other.

Lū‘au is about teaching the concept of ‘ohana, which is a value that runs deep in the Hawaiian culture. Above all else, it is the idea that we are a family that works and moves forward together with no one left behind. This is an important concept that we would like our children to learn. But moreover, the lū‘au allows parents to learn alongside their children from their kumu. It is a reminder of what a blessing it is that we are all part of the ‘ohana Punahou.

As Kumu Namba prepares for her own journey toward retirement this year, her wisdom will continue to guide generations to come. “We try to tell the haumāna that it’s not the lū‘au itself that is important,” she shared, “but the values that we learn through it – laulima, working together, lōkahi, unity among the entire grade level, and of course, kōkua and aloha.” 

For parents and students alike, third grade lū‘au will always be a time of celebration, fun and togetherness that will have a special place in our hearts forever.

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