Progress for Kava in Australia (And a Little Hawaiian History)

Posted by on Feb 8, 2013 in The Mind of Makaira | 0 comments

Progress for Kava in Australia (And a Little Hawaiian History)Aloha Everyone!

I hope the new year has been going well for all of you so far. Here at the farm we’ve been incredibly busy, and there hasn’t been much time for rest or relaxation (though ‘awa has still been a constant and calming companion at the end of my work day).

I’d like to take a moment to share some great news, and a bit of Hawaiian history with all of you. You may remember my mentioning the Australian kava ban

in a few of my blog posts last year. Kava is treated as a prescription-only medicine in Australia, meaning that one has to have a license from a Western doctor to possess the medicine. This means that the drink cannot be consumed in its traditional fashion at cultural events, such as the National Multicultural Festival. Pacific Islanders have been fighting against this ban for some time, and last year, they convinced the government to allow traditional kava consumption at the event, and it was so successful that the Australian government has decided to lift the ban on kava at that festival permanently.

The Australian Kava Movement spokesman Siua Tofua’ipangai expressed happiness at the announcement, but believes that kava use should be permitted in all cultural and religious activities without a permit.

This is definitely a victory, though it is a small one. Unfortunately, indigenous kava users from many different Pacific nations have been struggling with the suppression of traditional kava use since Western governments first began to colonize our homes.

We’ve been relatively lucky in Hawaii, in that we haven’t been officially forbidden to use any of our sacred medicines. Nevertheless, Hawaii is still a colonized land. January 17th marked the anniversary of the overthrow of the Constitutional Monarchy of Hawaii, then led by Queen Lili’uokalani. The overthrow was primarily organized by American citizens who were looking to protect their business interests. From that time on, Hawaii was annexed by President William McKinley, and became a United States Territory.

The tale of the Hawaiian takeover and resulting liberation movement is long and complex, and I won’t get into it here – this is a blog about kava, after all. I simply want to bring this event to your attention, as its anniversary has just passed. In commemoration of the loss of our independence as a nation, my family took the time to have a formal ‘awa ceremony and to sit together in prayer for our nation and for the world. If we are to move forward together as a planet, the rights and medicines of all peoples must be recognized and respected. This shift in Australia is a positive one, but much more remains to be done so that we may all use the medicines we value and practice the traditions that ground us in our own native lands.

Aloha no,

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