In the spirit of lokahi

This is an interview conducted over the telephone between myself and Dr. Jane Ely that I thought would be worth posting. Mahalo Jane.

In The Spirit of Lo’kahi:
An interview on the work and world vision of Dr. Maka’ala Yates D.C.

Written by: Dr. Jane Ely, D. Min.

Lokahi is an ancient Hawaiian word with many layers of meanings. For Maka’ala Yates, lokahi is the essence of unity, peacemaking, harmony, connection, and embracing diversity. Ho’o lokahi is the action that brings about agreement, diversity, and unity. But it is much more than this.

In the Hawaiian language there are tones, sounds, and meanings within meanings that carry vibrational frequencies of understanding, mana [life force], and healing. As Maka’ala explains, Lokahi is the platform upon which to communicate and illuminate healing and more importantly, to reunite that which has been broken back into unity, and awareness—in short, to renew a way of life.

Dr. Maka’ala Yates is a remarkable man with a very large world vision. The Big Picture is nothing short of complete transformational change for the people of this earth. Although he would be the last person to admit it, he would perhaps say he is just here doing what he has come here to do. Or perhaps he might say, he woke up at a certain point in his life and ‘remembered’ why he came here and the job he came here to do.

Born on the Big Island of Hawaii in a sacred place, the city of refuge Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, Maka’ala’s arrival was awaited by the elders – kupuna – who predicted his birth and knew him from ancient times. He remembers being introduced to lomi lomi – a Hawaiian form of healing touch and massage – at age six by his Auntie. This was during a time in which Hawaiian’s were under suppression. Many Hawaiians did not speak their native language in public because it was frowned upon.

Maka’ala remembers that his father spoke fluent Hawaiian and that he was reprimanded while attending Kamehameha School. This school was founded to perpetuate the Hawaiian values and traditions of people of Hawaiian ancestry through the vision of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. Maka’ala states, if you eliminate the language, the oral traditions of an entire culture are eliminated. The tones of our language carry hidden frequencies of the ancient culture. When the missionaries wrote down our language, they changed it. I remember the ancient ones; these are inside of me.

In childhood family gatherings he remembers kukakuka (talk story) and lomi (touch), two essential factors of carrying on the heritage. From birth, Auntie Margaret, a great kumu [teacher] recognized Maka’ala in his crib. He had the support and protection of Auntie Margaret and family Aunties who infused him with the healing ways, not the warrior ways that many people generally identify as Hawaiian culture. For example, during an epidemic of ‘whooping cough’ when Maka’ala was only three years old, they took him out of danger and sent him to the other side of the island. Looking back on it now, he realizes that they were protecting him.

Maka’ala’s teachers are legends in Hawaiian culture today including Auntie Morrnah Simeona, Auntie Edith Kanaka’ole, Auntie Mona Kahele and his father. In childhood, Maka’ala remembers having ‘breathless states’ in which he would find himself observing himself in an alternate reality, or a kind of meditative state. He would simply stop breathing for minutes at a time, and in so doing go into other states of awareness. It wasn’t until years later that Auntie Morrnah taught him the ha mo’o form  of meditation in which the essence of life and the evolutionary process unfolds in alternate states of being. “Ha is breath but it is much more than that, it is life and death, mo’o is the lizard, and it is also the spine and the awareness of having no fear,” says Maka’ala.

So this child who was predicted to be a bridge between the cultures, and a keeper of ancient practices grew up, went to school, enrolled in the military, became a warrior in Viet Nam, saw people die, went to college, became a tennis professional, traveled the world, went into pre-medicine studies and detoured to become a chiropractor because he felt working with the bones really called to him.

“Viet Nam scared me straight”, says Maka’ala. In 1976, four years out of the military, an incredible event happened in Hawaii that had been predicted by the elders for many years. The experience was the advent of the Hokulea, a double- hulled, 61’-5” wa’a kaulua, replica of the ancient Polynesian voyaging canoes used to navigate by the stars throughout the Polynesian Islands. The name Hokulea means star of gladness, referring to Arcturus, a guiding zenith star by which navigators traveled widely throughout the Pacific Rim. The inaugural voyage left Maui, Hawaii in 1976 for Tahiti. Maka’ala was on the return voyage to Hawaii.

A significant point about this time period is that the elders had predicted this as being a great awakening for the Hawaiian people, and also for the human species of the world. It was during this time period that significant people began reappearing in Maka’ala’s life.  The voyage itself was an “ah-ha” moment as Maka’ala puts it. He understood how in tune the ancient ones were with nature, the stars, movement, technology, science, and the world in which they were intricately inter-related with all life. He came to understand how incredibly advanced his ancestors were, and a seed was planted—the concept of remembering and bringing back the ancient knowledge, teachings and healing practices for the benefit of all peoples.

Maka’ala found the restrictions of the chiropractic profession too narrow for the ways in which he wanted to practice, which included his traditional healing practices. He came to the decision to change his focus and in so doing, began to grow the seeds that had been planted during the Hokulea experience.

He came home to mother Hawaii to pursue practicing indigenous healing. He has been practicing and teaching Mana lomi® for over 30 years. Today, Maka’ala has established Mana Lomi® training on Big Island, Maui, Oahu and Kauai. The intention of all his work is to reintroduce Hawaiians to alternative health education and practices steeped in traditional Hawaiian knowledge of health and healing. The wisdom is based in the ancient healing secrets hidden for more than 1,000 years by the original people of the islands.

As Maka’ala puts forth in Mana Ola: The Healing Power of Spirit, our Hawaiian ancestors gave us tools to make it through the evolutionary changes they have anticipated for generations to come—not only for Hawaiian people, but for all the people of the planet. The return of the ancient Hawaiian healing practices must now come full circle into the hearts and homes of the Hawaiians themselves. Indigenous cultures everywhere are taking back their cultures, which are deeply rooted in healing. We believe the time has come for Native Hawaiians to turn towards their own source of wisdom and rich heritage—for healing, for remembering, and for their future.

This is basically the inspiration and foundation of all the teachings: to provide a health education model for Hawaiian families that can also go out into the world in a way that is aligned and shared, free of conflict with others.

The training program that the Kumu Maka’ala has developed includes: mana lomi®, problem solving Hawaiian massage that communicates down to the bone; ho’oponopono, meaning to bring back into balance, a form of peacemaking; Hawaiian healing chants; la’au lapa’au, Hawaiian herbal medicine; fasting and cleansing; nutrition; and hale pulo’ulo’u, the Hawaiian sweat lodge.

He has established the practice of Mana Lomi®, which identifies and carries the spiritual aspect of lomi from his lineage of healers. Mana is the life force, the spiritually divine energy that moves through all things, and lomi is the work or the vehicle through which healing happens. The program he now teaches is designed to break the blueprint of illness in the Hawaiian nation, empowering the people to wake-up and take charge of their health, remembering who they are.

An example of this exists in a unique education program for young males. Entitled Na La ‘Eha, young males ages 13 to 18 are mentored by older men into the rite of passage that bridges ancient tradition with modern times and explores the healthy masculine.  Young males encounter major male archetypes, explore what it is like to be a man, and dispel myths. Through 4 days of discussion, classroom time, outdoor activity, experiencing emotional male literacy, the practice of accountability, ho’oponopono, and solo time in nature, the boys become men. They learn to recognize their wounds, their hidden shadow-self, and find their medicine and power.

Maka’ala observes that the majority of men all over the world are struggling to redefine and redirect themselves. They are seeking healthy masculine models that can help them be strong and compassionate within the context of today’s society.

But Maka’ala does not stop there with manifesting change. His vision extends to establishing a traditional Hawaiian health center and training institute in Polynesia. The pioneering project organized by Polynesians for Polynesians will be extended to the entire community and will be based in ancient healing approaches with current biomedical health systems.

In 2005, Maka’ala was awarded the Kaonohi Award in Honolulu in recognition of Hawaiians who have made significant contributions to improving Hawaiian health and well being through the practice of Hawaiian medicine within Hawaiian communities. One of the goals of the training program he offers is to train teachers, creating a core team that reintroduces traditional healing throughout the Pacific Rim.

Maka’ala further points out, in Mana Ola: The Healing Power of Spirit, Hawaii has long been known as the ‘piko’ –the center or umbilicus of the universe throughout the Polynesian Triangle and other parts of the world. It has attracted people for generations for healing, navigation, peace, and the study of the cosmos … It is on this piko that we feel moved to develop a health education model that will not only help the Polynesian people to regain their independence from so-called incurable illnesses, but also help them to break free from old patterns that no longer serve. Self-awareness and the power to heal the land and its people are the key ingredients to bringing the people together. An authentic Hawaiian healing center and school provides the means for transmitting the layers of ancient Hawaiian healing in a far-reaching way that is relevant to the times in which we live.

This is the spirit of Lokahi—unification, illumination, communication, transformation, inclusivity and diversity. Lokahi is the vision and the work, and it runs through Maka’ala Yates because he embodies the essence of lokahi and he is dedicated to manifesting its return in his lifetime.

If you would like to learn more or contact Dr. Maka’ala Yates, please visit his website at

Author: Jane Ely, D. Min. lives in Santa Fe, NM and is an indigenous healer, counselor and teacher. Please visit or to learn about the Peacemaker School and upcoming intensives. Jane can be reached via email at


About Maka'ala

Maka'ala is a Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian ancestry) trained in Hawaiian medicine practices since the age of six. He is the founder of Indigenous Botanicals and Mana Lomi®. He enjoys traveling around the world teaching Hawaiian principles and concepts of being well. In 2005 he was awarded the "Kaonohi Award" for excellence in Hawaiian medicine and community support. He is the author of "Na'auao Ola Hawaii - Hawaiian Principles of Being Well." Maka'ala is the Ambassador-at-large and Minister of Health for the Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi. His focus is "breaking the blueprint" from disease and illness and his mission is "bringing the healer back into the family."
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2 Responses to In the spirit of lokahi

  1. Linda Kime says:

    Mahalo for this

  2. Reblogged this on Ola Lokahi and commented:
    Great interview of my Kumu Lomilomi by Dr. Ely.
    Maka’ala’s book “Na’auao Ola Hawaii: Hawaiian Principles and Practices of Being Well” is now available on Amazon.

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