HONOLULU (AP) – The founder of an app called “Hula” that provides information about sexually transmitted diseases says he plans to change its name after complaints that it’s culturally insensitive to Hawaiians.
Ramin Bastani told The Associated Press on Tuesday that after weeks of learning to understand the concerns of the Native Hawaiian community, he’s moving forward with changing the app’s name.
An online petition asking him to change the name argues that the name exploits a sacred cultural art form. Bastani previously resisted changing the name even after the petition gained attention in March. But he said he immediately removed any references to “getting lei’d” in marketing the app.
He says he’ll continue to educate others not to associate “getting lei’d” with his health tool.
Bastani says a new name hasn’t been determined.
The following is a statement from Hula app founder Ramin Bastani:
We recently learned that Native Hawaiians had concerns with our name, Hula. We immediately engaged the community and listened with an open mind. By doing so, we gained a great respect for hula, the Hawaiian culture and its history. For those that were offended by the name, we sincerely apologize – that was never our intent.
We promise to change the name in the very near future.
We give thanks to everyone who contacted us and are especially grateful for the thoughtful leadership of Dr. Diane Paloma, the Director of the Native Hawaiian Health Program at The Queen’s Health Systems and Dr. Kamana’opono Crabbe, the CEO at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.