What is known today as Aloha Festivals was created in 1946, as Aloha Week – a cultural celebration of Hawai’i’s music, dance and history intended to perpetuate our unique traditions.
A group of former Jaycees – known as the Jaycees Old-timers of Hawaiʻi – had the vision to create a public celebration to honor Hawai’i’s cosmopolitan heritage, yet created a celebration which has itself become a state-wide tradition. (Aloha Festivals)
The first Aloha Week was held during the fall as a modern-day makahiki, the ancient Hawaiian festival of music, dance, games and feasting. (By 1974, Aloha Week expanded to a month-long slate of activities, with events on six islands.) (Carroll)
A Hawaiian Village of thatched houses was constructed at the Diamond Head end of Ala Moana Park across from Waikiki Yacht Club for the Aloha Week celebration held in October 1947 (and several subsequent years.)
Then, around 1960, driving through Ala Moana Park, Herman and Malia Solomon noticed the cluster of thatched houses in a fenced enclosure. They learned from with the Parks Department that the place was only used during Aloha Week.
So, after some negotiation, they were able to lease the property with the idea of creating a “living” Hawaiian village where people could step back in time and get a glimpse of what life in Hawaiʻi was like 200 years ago – Ulu Mau Village was born.
Malia carefully chose the individuals that would become the “villagers”, people who were knowledgeable in various cultural aspects of ancient Hawaiian life and who possessed good speaking skills.
“All of us at Ulu Mau Village have a profound respect for our heritage, and we hope our village shall be the mirror to reflect this heritage to all of our people in Hawaii Nei and others who may also be interested.” (Solomon; kapahawaii)
Here, “old Hawaiʻi recreated right in the heart of bustling Honolulu, a ten-minute bus ride from Waikiki beach. At Ulu Mau Village in Ala Moana park a pili grass- thatched scattering of huts – complete to carp pond and carved Hawaiian images, stands in contrast to one of the world’s largest shopping centers across the boulevard.”
“For the admission price of $1.50 you can take a capsule course in Hawaiian culture – that will last about 90 minutes – but provide much insight into the bygone glories of Hawaii.”
“Ulu Mau means ‘ever growing’ and that is one of the first things a genial Hawaiian tutu, or grandmother, in flowered muumuu explains to you at the first hut you visit. She shows you taro growing ttro rool, then tells you how poi is made. Afterwards she pounds poi on the spot, passing out samples for everyone to try.”
“Next hut you step in displays colorful Hawaiian quilts on the walls. Here another muumuu-clad tutu starts with a brief lesson in Hawaiian. In front of her is a display of Hawaiian foliage, flowers, bananas, breadfruit and other plants. You learn the Hawaiian names of them all, as well as their many uses, both decorative and utilitarian.” (Independent Star, June 12, 1966)
Ulu Mau Village lasted at Ala Moana Park for about 10-years. Then, in 1969, “the village is relocated at Heʻeia (Ka Lae o Keʻalohi,) half an hour’s drive from Waikiki. Its neighbors are Kaneohe bay, an old Hawaiian fishpond, the coral reefs that poke out of the sea, and the Koʻolau mountains.”
“Often called the Williamsburg of Hawaii, Ulu Mau is a living exhibit of grass houses, inhabited by Hawaiians who work the ancient crafts, play the ancient games, and grow the traditional crops which fed and clothed the islanders two centuries before Capt. Cook dropped his anchor in an Hawaiian bay.”
“Like Williamsburg, Ulu Mau is at the opposite end of the wax-museum style of historical presentation. Its idea is to bring an ancient culture to life. The grounds that slope down to the sea are planted with sugar cane, banana trees, taro, ti leaves, breadfruit, and ginger.”
“Ti leaves are used to make skirts. Breadfruit was the plant that Capt. Bligh and the Bounty came to get and bring back to the West Indies, and taro gave the islanders their starchy staple.”
“The villagers of Ulu Mau also display the old Hawaiian games. Kōnane is a local brand of checkers played on flat rocks by the sea, a restful experience for those who would dissolve the tangle of a more complicated society.”
“Young visitors in Hawaii’s Ulu Mau Village sample the Hawaiian way of life as it was in the days before the white man arrived. The village is a living exhibit of grass houses inhabited by Hawaiians who work the ancient crafts, play the ancient games, and grow the traditional crops.” (Chicago Tribune, March 29, 1970)
Ulu Mau Village operated at Heʻeia for less than 10-years. When the land was proposed for urban development, the community reaction prompted the Legislature to purchase the property which was acquired as the Heʻeia State Park in 1977.