Editor’s Note: FOCUS is a multimedia series that highlights the diversity and depth of our community through interviews and photographs.

Meghan Leialoha Au wants to start a conversation about what people can do to make sure they’re in charge of their own health.

“My thesis work focuses on how stigma from the 1865 Hansen’s disease (leprosy) law stigmatized kanaka maoli in its enforcement and how that treatment has trickled down and shows up today in our lives as we live them out in terms of fatalistic health statistics like diabetes, cancer, criminalization and domestic violence too — all as byproducts of colonization and occupation — of our minds, bodies and overall health,” she told Civil Beat.

Au is in the process of earning her master’s degree from Kamakakuokalani, Center for Hawaiian Studies at University of Hawaii-Manoa.

She is focusing on traditional Hawaiian techniques to help with the healing. Lomi lomi is the Hawaiian word for massage and laau lapaau is the study of Hawaiian medicinal plants.

“Both are in the same vein of healing,” said Au, a lomi lomi practitioner and owner of Lotus Blossom in You.

Au practices pa ola lomi lomi, a Hawaiian holistic healing technique taught to her by kumu lomi lomi Enrick Ortiz Jr. And she has created her own line of laau lapaau that she calls “Herbal Stinker,” describing the earthy pungent scent.

Listen to her story:

Got the perfect person for FOCUS? Email Nathan Eagle at neagle@civilbeat.com.

About the Author

  • Alana Hong
    Born and raised in Honolulu, Alana Hong has been scuba diving since age 5. She enjoys traveling, but always finds herself back in the islands she will forever call home. She currently works in Hawaii's film industry on various projects, most recently in the prop department on "Last Resort." On the weekends she can be found in the water with her camera and fins or brainstorming ideas with her creative friends.