Delegates to Hawaii Democrats‘ state convention Sunday (May 27) gave multiple ovations to U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka, 87, who retires in early 2013 after 36 years in the U.S. Congress.

Akaka said it was the last time he would address his party as a U.S. senator, “but this is by no means a farewell speech but rather an opportunity to extend my aloha.”

He noted that Hawaiian words have multiple meanings, and that for “aloha” they include “greetings, appreciation, love.”

Akaka said that he had never aspired to be in Congress but wanted to instead be superintendant of Hawaii schools. Instead, he accepted then-Gov. Jack Burns‘ invitation to enter a career of government and politics.

“Live aloha and pass it on,” he said in closing. “It means nothing unless you share it.”

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, former Gov. John Waihee, U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka and Gov. Neil Abercrombie.