Famous leaders of peace initiatives and humanitarian campaigns are on the agenda of a United Nations conference on peace in New York later this month.
Aunty Malia to address
United Nations conference
By Mary Adamski
So is Aunty Malia Craver, 73, a soft-spoken kupuna whose peacemaking efforts start at the most basic level, guiding emotionally fractured families to reconciliation using the Hawaiian practice of ho'oponopono.
Craver was invited to speak Aug. 30 at the 53rd annual U.N. Conference of Non-Government Organizations. More than 2,000 people will attend the three-day session which has the theme "Global Solidarity, the Way to Peace and International Cooperation."
"I will talk a little about ho'oponopono, a method to resolve family and personal conflicts and achieve peace," Craver said. She said she will also share with the global audience, the principle of lokahi: "To achieve peace and unity, you must be in harmony with God, your fellow man and nature."
One of three to speak at the closing session on "New Responsibilities for Civil Society," Craver will share the stage with consumer advocate Ralph Nader and Hanan Ashrawi of the Palestinian Initiative for Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy.
She is not going to be just telling stories of Hawaiian culture and tradition; she wants listeners to see there is a model here for putting peace into practice anywhere.
"Ho'oponopono can take place only if every family member wants to achieve peace," Craver said. "Family members must come together. They must listen to each other. And they must be honest and admit to their wrongdoing.
"I'm going to say that peace begins within," Craver said. "It is about aloha, love, it's honor and respect for one another. And it's about having a higher power you believe in, to guide and direct your ways."
People are able make changes in their lives, "but it comes from a high power," she said.
"It means you have to live by principles. Every ethnic race has been taught cultural values," Craver said. "If people would only listen. If people would humble themselves. If they would learn about each other's culture."
Craver was a social work assistant with Queen Liliuokalani Children's Centers for 30 years. Three years after her retirement, she was brought back as staff kupuna and cultural consultant, reflecting the Liliuokalani Trust's widened focus. Created to assist Hawaiian families in crisis, the trust now also sponsors Hawaiian community-building activities.
She and a team present workshops on culture and spirituality to a variety of gatherings, from Hawaiian organizations to office and professional groups.
"She is a remarkable woman, she talks about heartfelt things in really simple terms," said Annie Moriyasu, programming director of Pacific Islanders in Communications. "We were trying to emphasize those core values in our workplace. We have them, but for her it goes beyond the workplace." Moriyasu told a friend about the workshop, and it led to the U.N. invitation.
Oahu-born Charmaine Crockett, who has worked at the United Nations for 10 years, serves on the conference committee. Last year she prevailed in getting Puanani Burgess as a speaker.
"I believe indigenous voices are not heard often enough at the United Nations," said Crockett. "I'm a Pacific Islander and every year, I try to get a Pacific Islander on the agenda.
"I am an advocate of people whose voices aren't known to larger groups. I try to look for people who are influential in their communities, but are not known in a larger way."
Crockett said, "Aunty Malia will say things we need to hear. Because she is not a seasoned speaker, her words are more powerful. She is a new voice."
Craver said her cultural values are rooted in her upbringing in Hookena on the Big Island. She is 100 percent Hawaiian and was hanai to an aunt who raised her. "In that small village, everybody took care of everyone's children, not just Hawaiian but haole, Filipino, oriental. Adults looked out for you and we learned to respect and be obedient to our elders. Today, you cannot scold someone's child, it makes the parent angry."
In typical island manner, Craver is addressed as "aunty" by adult and child alike. She is also mother to a daughter and "tutu" to two grown grandchildren, all in Missouri.