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Lā‘au Lapa‘au Workshops Being Held on Preserving Ancient Knowledge

March 4, 2019, 1:06 PM HST (Updated March 8, 2019, 2:07 PM)
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Hui Mālama Ola Nā ʻŌiwi (Hui Mālama) reports the 2019 series of Lā‘au Lapaʻau Workshops for Hawaiʻi Island. The “Hoʻomana Ke Ola Nā Kānaka ʻŌiwi” (empowering the health of the Hawaiian people) workshops provide the opportunity to learn about the ancient Hawaiian healing practices of Lā‘au Lapaʻau, Hoʻoponopono, Lomilomi Ha Ha, and Lā‘au Kahea. The workshops are led by Poʻokela Ikaika Dombrigues who emphasizes the importance of empowering people to learn to improve their health with a focus on mind, body, and spirit.

Lā‘au Lapaʻau Workshop, Hilo, March 2017. Courtesy photo.

“Illnesses stem from stress, depression, cultural conflict, and lifestyle choices,” said Dombrigues. “The goal is to remind us of resources all around us that can help people take better care of themselves.”

Workshop participants will learn about lā‘au lapaʻau, the ancient Hawaiian practice of using herbs and plants to heal the body. There are over 3,500 different types of lā‘au that can be used to treat a multitude of health conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and stress.

The practice of lā‘au lapa‘au has existed for thousands of years, but in modern day, the ancient knowledge is quickly disappearing. Without a commitment to sharing the ʻike (knowledge), lā‘au lapa‘au is at risk of being lost forever. Dombrigues began learning about the healing powers of lā‘au lapaʻau from a young age, with knowledge passed on from his kahuna and ancestors.

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“Lā‘au lapaʻau is a practice that’s been in the Hawaiian islands for thousands of years,” said Dobrigues. “It has to do with natural herbs from the land, plants, animals, and minerals from the ocean. Through the power of pule (prayer), we apply it to our bodies. It’s a very spiritual connection that falls upon the person who needs help.”

While learning to use lā‘au for healing is a lifelong lesson, starting with basic concepts and common lā‘au with the community will increase the chance of preserving the important cultural health practice. The free workshops are open to the public and are offered March through July 2019 in Hilo, Waimea, Kona, Kaʻū and Puna.

  • Hilo – Saturday, March 9, Aunty Sally’s Luau Hale,  9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Waimea – Saturday, April 6 Waimea Park Community Center, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Kona – Saturday, May 4, Old Kona Airport Special Events Pavilion, 10 a.m to 3 p.m.
  • Kaʻū – Saturday June 1, Kaʻū District Gym, 10 a.m to 3 p.m.
  • Puna – Saturday, June 13, Pāhoa Gym Patio Area,  9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Light refreshments are provided. Participants are encouraged to bring their lunch.

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The lā‘au lapaʻau workshops are part of Hui Mālama Ola Nā ʻŌiwi efforts to preserve and share traditional Hawaiian health practices. The Traditional Health Program is dedicated to sharing the knowledge of Hawaiian cultural values, beliefs, history, and the practice of traditional kanaka maoli lapaʻau (Hawaiian medicine). To learn more about upcoming workshops and classes, contact the Hui Mālama Traditional Health team at (808) 969-9220.

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