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Ukulele maker’s act of kindness at FestPAC Hawai’i

Friday 14 June 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Art, Entertainment, Features


Ukulele maker’s act of kindness at FestPAC Hawai’i
Renowned ukulele maker Ricky Adamu, left, in the FestPAC Village at the Hawai’i Convention Center in Honolulu. MELINA ETCHES/24061330

As the vibrant energy of the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture (FestPAC) thrums through the streets of Honolulu, Ricky Adamu, the renowned ukulele maker, has his own story that extends beyond his exceptional craftsmanship.

Walking through the bustling streets of Waikiki, Adamu, one of the Cook Islands artisans attending the FestPAC 2024, noticed a few homeless individuals.

As Adamu watched the homeless, his mind occasionally drifted back to a time many years ago when he too had been without a home in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand, resorting to sleeping in the doorway of a school.

“It hurt me,” he tells Cook Islands News. “It really hurt me when I saw the homeless people here.”

“I feel sorry for people like that, for people with no homes.

“It reminds me of my past. I’ve been there before, I used to be homeless, and so I know what it feels like with no roof over your head.”

On Wednesday night, after a busy day selling his popular ukuleles in the Festival Village at the Hawai’i Convention Center, Adamu decided to put together a bag of food.

“I walked along where I usually see these homeless people but they weren’t there. I saw a different homeless guy so I just gave him the bag of food, I hope it will be enough for a few days,” he says.

Amidst the spirited celebrations of Pacific culture and artistry, Adamu’s experience demonstrates the resilience and kindness of the human spirit and the importance of never forgetting one’s roots.

Through his ukulele making expertise and his compassionate outreach, he illustrates the very essence of the FestPAC – a celebration of the shared values, traditions, and experiences that unite the diverse communities of the Pacific.

  • Melina Etches in Honolulu