To learn more about ʻawa’s cultural significance throughout Polynesia, check out this story about the History of ʻAwa.
Ke ‘ōʻili nei kekahi mea inu hou loa ma Hawaiʻi, a ua kapa ʻia ma ka inoa ʻo RZO. Eia naʻe, ʻo ka ʻūmaupaʻa i kālele nui ʻia ma ia mea inu nei, ʻo ia hoʻi ko kākou mea inu koʻikoʻi ʻo ka ʻAwa, a ke hoʻohuahua ʻia nei kona pōʻaiapili i nā lāhui inu ʻAwa, keu hoʻi no kēia polopeka huli kanaka, ʻo Ty Kāwika Tengan no ke kulanui o Hawaiʻi ma Mānoa.
“Ke hoʻohana ʻokoʻa ʻia kekahi mea koʻikoʻi o ka lāhui, hoʻololi pū kona waiwai.”
ʻOiai ua ʻike mua ʻo Dustin i ke koʻikoʻi o ka ʻAwa i nā lāhui a puni ka Pākīpika, ke lana nei kona manaʻo e mālama i kēlā hōʻihi like ma o kekahi ʻano hou o kēia ao.
“Ua lawe aku wau i kēia mea koʻikoʻi ʻo ka ʻAwa a lilo ia mea he mea i mahalo ʻia e ko kēia hanauna a puni ka honua.”
Ua ho’olauna ‘ia kēia mea inu hou ʻo RZO ma nā halekūʻai meaʻaiaola a puni o Oʻahu i kēlā Iulai i hala aku nei, a no kona ʻano hou loa, hana nui ka hopohopo ʻole o kekahi mau kānaka inu ʻAwa no kona hoʻohana kūpono ʻia.
“ʻAʻole paʻa koʻu manaʻo no kēia mea inu nei,” wahi a Kāwka, “akā ua hiki nō paha ke aʻoaʻo ʻia ka lehulehu no ka ʻAwa ma ke ʻano kūpono ʻole a i ʻole he kūpono paha.”
ʻOiai ua paʻa ko Dustin manaʻo no ko RZO holomua kūpono ʻana, ua kupu mai nā nīnūnē ma waho aku o kona ʻaoʻao ʻike kuʻuna e pili hoʻi ana me kona mālama ʻia ʻana ma loko o kekahi kini.
“He kino lau ke kānoa no ka ʻAwa a me nā akua e ola ana ma loko o ka wai ʻAwa a ʻo ia kahi e ʻākoakoa like ai ka poʻe. ʻAʻole nō hiki ke hui like ka poʻe inā e inu ʻia nei ka ʻAwa mai ke kini,” wahi a Kāwika.
Eia naʻe, ma waho aku o kona ʻaoʻao ʻike kuʻuna, ke hoʻohuahua pū ʻia nei ke ʻano e hoʻohana palekana ʻia ka ʻAwa ma ia mea inu nei ʻo RZO.
“Hopohopo au i kona hoʻohana kūpono ʻole ʻia me ka waikulu,” wahi a Kāwika.
Manaʻo lana ʻo Dustin he ala wale ʻo RZO e launa like ai ka lehulehu a peia pū kona makemake e hoʻihoʻi aku i ia lehulehu inu RZO kekahi.
A ua lana ko Kāwika manaʻo e hoʻihoʻi ʻia kēia mahalo i kekahi hui kikoʻī. “Inā he kuleana kona e hoʻihoʻi aku i ke kaiāulu, ke lana nei koʻu manaʻo, ʻo ia ana ke kaiāulu inu ʻAwa o ka Pākīpika, keu hoʻi no Hawaiʻi.”
“Every time you get something taken out of original cultural context, it transforms those meanings in ways that sometimes are very unanticipated.”
Although Dustin Shoedel is aware of ʻAwa’s cultural significance, he hopes to maintain its respect in a new age through RZO.
“I took Kava, which is something that people really see as sacred and a part of, an integral part of their history and their culture and Iʻm modernizing it in a way that is palletable to my generation, world-wide.”
RZO was introduced last July to all-natural food stores around Oʻahu. Many are reserving judgment on RZO and its use of ʻAwa.
“At this point I’m neutral,” says Kāwika “I see the potential for problems but I also see the potential for benefits, it could possibly transform ideas around what ʻAwa is in a harmful way or it could perhaps raise awareness in a positive way.”
Dustin thinks it’ll have a positive effect. But others note it’s not just about the Awa, it’s also how it’s served…in a can.
“The bowl itself, right, is this receptacle in the traditional context not only of the ʻAwa, but also the essence right of the akua that are in there of the water, it’s that circle that brings together a circle of people culturally and in a way that I think is not replicated when people are just kind of walking around with cans,” says Kāwika.
In addition to cultural aspects there are also some health concerns about ʻAwa and how RZO will be used.
“The whole thing about mixing I think too, when people start thinking this is something you will mix with alcohol,” says Kāwika.
Dustin is hopeful that RZO will only bring people together as he intends on giving back to the community.
And there is a specific community that Kāwika hopes he will give back to. “I would hope that that would involve more direct sorts of giving back to the community of people who are trying to maintain ʻAwa as an important cultural and social practice of Oceania and of Hawaiʻi.”