More than a century after native Hawaiians were made to feel unwelcome for speaking their language, the state will begin greeting airport visitors in the language of the host culture.
At Honolulu Airport yesterday a 40-second welcome message, recorded in Hawaiian and English, began broadcasting every 30 minutes.
"Aloha e na makamaka kipa mai i ke Kahua Mokulele Kau’aina o Honolulu! E na ‘ohua e ha’alele ana, no ‘oukou ka maluhia o ka holo ‘ana a ho’i hou mai. E na malihini i ho’ea mai me na kama’aina pu kekahi, ke aloha o ka ‘aina ia ‘oukou a pau!"
Translated, the message means, "Welcome to the Honolulu International Airport. If you’re headed out, travel safely and come back soon. Kamaaina, welcome home. And if you’ve just arrived, we hope that you enjoy your stay in our islands!"
A Hawaiian-language video message created for in-flight programming was given to all airlines offering service to Hawaii. Subtitle translations for international flights are being arranged, and efforts are under way to get airport greetings into all airports by the end of the year.
The bilingual greetings are a continuation of efforts by the Hawaii Tourism Authority and others to emphasize Hawaii’s culture as a way of differentiating it from other sun, sand and surf destinations.
"Through our Hawaiian Culture Initiative, the HTA is honored to be able to support the perpetuation of the Hawaiian language and its integration into the visitor experience," said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the HTA. "Hawaii’s host culture is what makes our islands unique and sets us apart from any other destination in the world. For visitors and residents, hearing the Hawaiian language at the airport is a special way to celebrate our host culture."
Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Hawaiian dignitaries were at the airport to hear the greeting’s debut, which was timed to honor Princess Ruth Keelikolani’s birthday month. The princess was one of the royal family’s strongest perpetuators of the Hawaiian language.