There are people, particularly in the Tiki scene, who like to say “Ohana is dead.” That is absolutely false. Besides, who in the hell are they to declare that? Clearly NOT people who have or understand Ohana.
I use Ohana for several reasons. There isn’t really an English word to convey the same concept. So, until I make one up, it is Ohana. While my focus is West Coast Surf Culture, Hawaii is intertwined with that history and is part of our ring of fire. Finally, I have family who lived in Hawaii, are buried in Hawaii, and are living Hawaiian. But, at this time, I cannot say that I am Hawaiian. Instead I strive to embody the spirit of Aloha and live Pono.
My use and understanding of Ohana is this:
You are born to and with blood family. This blood family can be large or small. It includes people you know and don’t know. Blood family does not end. The tie is through DNA.
However, a blood family member is not automatically Ohana. Ohana is one’s tribe–their trusted. These are people, blood or not, who choose to be together as a family.
Doesn’t that just mean friends or even good friends? No. You have Blood family, Ohana, Friends, Acquaintances, Team Members, Work Partners, Colleagues, etc.
Can Ohana be Blood family? Of course. But Ohana is a choice and not a blood commitment.
Ohana is akin to a soul connection. The choice is to be there for each other as a family. No one is bound to an Ohana if they want out. Give them blessings and wish them well in finding where they belong. But this is so rare. Why? Because being part of a person’s Ohana is just as rare.
And that is why so few are in surfer circles. If someone gets so close to be Ohana, they have the power to heal or harm. The inclusion of someone in Ohana means they understand that is a lifelong trust and commitment.