PMRF hosts luau on Kauai to celebrate heritage month

Sailors and civilian employees from PMRF enjoy the luau organized by the PMRF Diversity Committee in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, May 10.

Story and photo by Robert Purdy

Pacific Missile Range Facility Public Affairs

Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai joined the nation in celebrating the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during a “luau” hosted by the PMRF Diversity Committee on May 10. Sailors, family members, and civilian employees took a break from their busy schedules to come together to celebrate, honor and sample some of the culture, customs and traditions of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians.

Preparations for the luau kicked off two days prior to the event and began with the clearing and digging of an “imu.”

An imu is an underground oven in which meats and vegetables are cooked with stones heated by burning kiawe wood (a sweet Hawaiian mesquite) and covered with banana leaves. The banana leaves help maintain the cooking temperature, steam and capture the distinctive smoked flavor of Kalua pork.

Thomas Nizo, a civilian employee with the PMRF Public Works Department volunteered to prepare the imu as well as the tasty 250 pound Kalua pork that was slow cooked for 21 hours and served alongside traditional Hawaiian and Asian cuisine such as huli-huli chicken, lomi salmon, poi, chicken long rice, rice pudding and desserts prepared by the diversity committee.

“I think these kinds of events are great. To experience different cultures and different traditions is a great thing. I’m glad to share my culture. For many today, this will be the first time for them to experience these things,” Nizo said.

PMRF Diversity Committee chair Chief Master-at-Arms Sean Douglas welcomed and thanked the guests for participating in the luau. “We are always better because of our diversity not despite it,” Douglas said.

Entertainment included a Japanese taiko (drum) show by Tsunami Taiko, a local community youth taiko group, an ukulele and hula show, a dessert contest and cultural classes that taught lei making and playing the ukulele.

“Through our Taiko performance, we hope to share some of the Japanese culture. Taiko drumming has a long and rich history that not many people know about and it’s really cool just to see the community appreciate another culture, especially here in Hawaii where it’s just a melting pot of many different cultures. Everyone just comes together as one,” said Beau Acoba, director of Tsunami Taiko Drummers.

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month is observed in the month of May and celebrates the culture, history and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the nation’s history.

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Category: News