By Derrick DePledge
The state Senate's Hawaiian Affairs caucus and the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs have sent a letter to Qpid.me Inc., the company behind a sexually transmitted disease awareness app dubbed "Hula," asking the company to drop the name.
Many Hawaiians consider the use of the word "hula" for the app to be deeply disrespectful to the Hawaiian culture.
In the April 25 letter to Ramin Bastani, the chief executive officer of Qpid.me Inc., the senators and OHA argue that hula is a sacred Native Hawaiian cultural expression and important cultural property. They also contend that naming a commercial product "Hula" without meaningful consultation is inconsistent with state, international and the Native Hawaiian people's policies.
“It’s unfortunate some think that it’s okay to throw culturally-meaningful expressions around without thinking about the group of people it may affect. Hula is a sacred dance that Native Hawaiians cherish,” Sen. Malama Solomon said in a statement. “As Hawaiians it is our kuleana (or responsibility) to protect our cultural traditions. We don’t want to see continued disrespectful and inappropriate commodification of our culture.”