This chapter examines two important aspects of pili ‘ohana (family relationships): ho‘oponopono, which is a traditional Hawaiian means of conflict resolution, and Hawaiian customary adoption.
The central aim of ho‘oponopono is to promote harmony among persons, families, the natural world, and the spiritual realm. It differs in this respect from Western mediation, which seeks primarily to resolve disputes between individuals. This chapter discusses the principles and practice of ho‘oponopono and the useful lessons that it can offer today.
Customary adoption, which was once an integral part of Native Hawaiian culture and which this chapter explains in detail, continues to exist, although in modified form. Difficulties have arisen from the imposition on Hawai‘i of the Western legal system, which is largely based on private property rights. The Western concept of adoption, unlike the Hawaiian, places considerable emphasis on inheritance and generally involves severing contact between adopted children and their biological parents. This chapter describes several court cases that illustrate the inevitable conflicts between the two outlooks and recommends granting increased respect to the Native Hawaiian view.
“Pili ‘Ohana: Family Relationships” is Chapter 18 of Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise, a volume that updates and expands on the seminal work of the 1991 Native Hawaiian Rights Handbook. The publication is a collaborative effort of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law – University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and Kamehameha Publishing.