Consultants work to make Hawaii Five-O authentic

Blaine Kia
Blaine Kia
Mike Cho
Mike Cho
On the set of Hawaii 5.0
On the set of Hawaii 5.0

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Blaine Kia and Mike Cho observed with keen eyes and educated ears as an episode of Hawaii Five-O was shot at Honolulu Harbor's Pier 23 Monday.

Kia, who is a Kumu Hula and Hawaiian language musician, is the show's cultural consultant. His job is to help actors with pronunciation of Hawaiian words, use of Pigeon English, and traditional Hawaiian practices as well as current "local" culture.

"The process for me is the script. I get the script via email," Kia told Hawaii News Now. "I download it and then I extract all of the Hawaiian words from all of the actors," Kia told Hawaii News Now. "Then I have to do the voice recordings of the pronunciations of all the words," he said.

Cho, a former detective who spent 26 years with the Honolulu Police Department, is the show's law enforcement consultant. His job is to examine the script from a local law enforcement perspective.

"In one episode, early episode as a matter of fact, they referred to one of the bad guys as a 'perp.' And I put in a little note on the script that they provided me that here in Hawaii we call them 'crumbs.' And from that point on we never had 'perp' in a script. It was always a crumb," Cho explained.

Like most dramas, Hawaii Five-O is full of fictitious places and imaginary scenarios, but when it comes to respecting Hawaiian culture, Hawaiian language, proper police practices, the Five-O tries to be as authentic as possible.

"A good example is Waipahu with the 'W' slide. And then there's another word called Keawe. The point I'm getting to about the word Waipahu and Keawe is the 'W.' One is a V-slide and one is a W-slide. A 'wah' versus a 'vah,'" Kia said.

Proper pronunciation of Waipahu and Keawe may not be too difficult for people who grew up with those names, but the actors in Five-O are not from Hawaii. Alex O'Loughlin, who plays Steve McGarrett, is from Australia. Scott Caan, who plays Dano, is from Los Angeles. Even the new Chin Ho Kelly, played by Daniel Dae Kim, was raised on the mainland.

Thanks to Kia these malihini can sound like kamaaina.

Of course Hawaii Five-O is fiction. So Honolulu Harbor may be labeled the Port of Kauai, and actors may still struggle with names and customs. But Cho and Kia say they are pleased the series tries to be true to Hawaii.

"It is very gratifying. And I appreciate the fact that Hawaii Five Oh has been sensitive to the host culture. And they have been," Kia said.

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