Legislative bill will introduce choices for official state music instruments

The ukulele is often seen as a symbol of the islands, but now lawmakers want to make it official.

A bill to be introduced in the upcoming session of the State Legislature would make the ukulele the official ‘auana, or modern, musical instrument of the state.

Lawmakers wanted to make it the official state instrument last year, but there was some controversy, because it is not a traditional Hawaiian instrument. This new bill tries to cater to these concerns by also designating an official kahiko, or ancient, instrument, namely the pahu drum.

“During the course of our discussions, it was certainly brought to light that the ukulele is Portuguese in history,” said State Senator Glenn Wakai, “and we should do a Hawaiian instrument, so we figured, okay, here’s the best of both worlds — the ukulele, loved by children, loved by tourists, loved by the community, and we can have that as the contemporary state instrument, and really honor our past with an ancestral or traditional instrument, which would be the pahu drum.”

If you’re wondering how the pahu drum was picked, students taking part in the “We Vote Hawaii” mock election was asked back in November to choose their favorite kahiko instrument, and the pahu came out on top.

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