Hosting protocol


The design of a hosting experience is built on cultural practices that infuse every element with significance. Highlights of the experience include:

  • A sacred space.
    Hosting in a space that is neutral to the power and political structure (a “place of aloha”) helps to create an environment that is sacred and spiritual.
  • A welcoming ceremony.
    Multiple generations of family are involved in welcoming guests, including children and elders, who represent purity and wisdom and add to the significance of the greeting.
  • Royal treatment.
    Every individual is specifically acknowledged from the moment they arrive and all are treated with great deference, as if they were alii. Guests are waited on in the way that alii are traditionally treated, and with with vii vii (exaltation).
  • Seating by protocol.
    In accordance with tradition, the highest-ranking of the visitors will sit directly opposite the highest ranking of the hosts (namely, Tusi), and subsequent seating locations follow along the same line.
  • Sharing of kava.
    The spiritual meaning of sharing kava from the same bowl has an origin story . The story is explained before the kava is served to give people a context for the ceremony and encourage them to experience themselves as coming together for collaboration. Guests are invited to make a statement about their purpose in attending, and/or how they feel about their experience.
  • Serving of the meal.
    Guests are served as if they were nobility.
  • Entertainment.
    People are more relaxed when they feel happy and entertainment helps to bring about joy. The spirit of collaboration is enhanced when people can laugh together.
  • Gift giving.
    Each individual receives a personal gift with an explanation of the story behind it. The stories point back to the importance of collaboration and collective effort. The presentations follow the protocol that ranking chiefs use: The giver of the gift sits down in front of the guest and lays the gift at his or her feet. Then the giver gets up and leaves. A second person follows, usually one of the children, with a woven basket of food to take home. Woven mats have the highest material value in Samoa and are imbued with enough power to end war or forgive murder. Special carvings that have traditional and spiritual significance are also high-power gifts in Hawaii. The second-highest-value gift is the unfinished paddle, which symbolizes an unfinished journey.
  • A farewell from hosts.
    Just as the whole family welcomed its guests, the whole family sends them off with a song. They often sing a song that symbolizes the connection between the USA and the Samoan Islands, which in turn goes back to connectedness.
  • A farewell from guests.
    Individuals take turns offering farewell remarks; their words describe how they have been affected by the experience. Self reflection is built into the process and can sometimes evoke strong emotions. When that occurs, it is thought to bring blessings to the occasion and power to the process.

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