a deeply rooted love for the land
"he ali'i ka 'aina, he kauwa ke kanaka"
the land is chief, the people its servants
The spiritual principle of aloha 'aina has its foundation within one of the most commonly told Hawaiian creation stories. As a culture founded on oral tradition, the stories of kanaka maoli have been passed down for a thousand generations through song, chant, and dance. Within this particular mo'olelo, we are given insight to the deep spiritual connection that the people of Hawai'i have with the land, food, and our kuleana (responsibility) as caretakers of the 'aina hanau (birth lands) that we are from. We can all look to our ancestors to discover kaona (encoded wisdom) that lies within the depths of these stories.
This story is that of the kalo (taro). The characters within this story are wakea (sky father), papahanaumoku (earth mother), ho'ohokukalani (star mother), haloanakalaukapilili (the first kalo), and haloa (the first man).
Wakea was a powerful masculine being that is told to have dominion over all of the skies. Wakea was the all encompassing expanse of time, space, and matter that exists within the heavens. Papahanaumoku, his female counterpart, was the expansive earth domain. Her name, meaning the "flatness that birthed the islands", explains her total embodiment which is the abundant lands of Hawai'i. Wakea and papa came into divine union and birthed a daughter, ho'ohokukalani, whos domain would be the everlasting stars in the heavens. Her name, ho'ohokukalani, meaning "to create a star in the heavens", symbolizes that this royal chiefess was the genesis of our ancient star ancestors. As ho'ohokukalani began to grow and develop into a beautiful woman, Wakea began to form a deep connection to her. Her mana, being that of the highest kapu (sacred power), would be the foundation of Wakea's lineage.
Therefore, wakea and ho'ohokukalani had sacred union with one another. The child that was birthed from this union was haloanakalaukapilili (the long breath of the quivering leaf), who was a keiki alu'alu (pre-mature) and therefore a still-born. Ho'ohokukalani and wakea were devastated at the passing of their first child, yet they chose to ceremonially bury this child on the east side of their hale (house). As ho'ohokukalani's tears fell on the grave of her hiapo (first born), a heart shape leaf arose from the ground. This heart shape leaf was the first kalo (taro) that was the predecessor of all humanity.
Wakea and ho'ohokukalani once again had sacred union, and from this was birthed a healthy and strong kanaka, haloa, named after his elder sibling. Haloa, the first kanaka (man), is told to be the beginning of the lines of the Hawaiian people. From this birth, haloa was given clear kuleana (responsibility/privilege) to malama (care for) his older brother and develop a deep relationship with the kalo.
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kaona o 'aloha 'aina
understanding the deeper lessons
Within this story of haloa, there are many deep lessons that are embedded within. The Hawaiian people, since their time of conception have always been deeply connected to the land as well as the spirit of the land. For the spirit and land itself are one in the same. One seen, and one unseen. Through this understanding of human to earth connection, the ultimate truth is revealed to us. And that truth is...
"We are the land, and the land is us"
The very core of our existence is dependent upon our relationship to the earth. And our relationship to the earth, in its entirety, is dependent upon the stories, perspectives, and wisdom that we decide to base our values on. In other words, if we choose to see the earth as a basic commodity, asset, or that in which we consume from, our lifestyle will be dictated by those values. On the contrary, if we see the earth as Our Mother, the Eternal Provider, our Eldest Ancestor, and the Source of our existence, our lifestyle and behaviors will reflect those sacred values.
In the Hawaiian way of life, the Earth is Our Grand Mother, papahanaumoku. The sky father, wakea, is the protection and connection that we have to the heavens. The stars, ho'ohokukalani, is our eternal guidance through life as every great mother is to their children. Our main food source, haloanakalaukapilili (the kalo), is our eldest sibling and the progenitor of the kanaka (mankind) who offered his life to be the source of sustenance for his 'ohana (family). And lastly, our example as kanaka to live in a spirit of stewardship to the land, skies, stars, and one another is the second born, haloa he ali'i (the chief).
Unique from many cultures across the earth, the kanaka maoli are genealogically tied to their one hanau (birthing sands, home lands). Rather than the land being solely a symbol of provision and motherhood, the kanaka see Hawai'i as a literal manifested ancestor that is connected to our piko (life center) through a blood connected genealogical tie. The lineage of our people trace back to wakea and papa, as they have laid the foundation for the many lines of chiefs that governed the pae 'aina (island chain).
"Papa is the earth, the crust upon which floats the oceans, her ambiotic fluid; the crust that feeds the growth of coral, the placenta of ocean life. Where wakea anchors us to the universe, papahanaumoku anchors us to geography, our sacred land base." - Dr. Taupori Tangaro
E lawe i ke aʻo a mālama, a e ʻoi mau ka naʻauao
he who takes his teachings and applies them, increases his knowledge
olelo no'eau 328
principles of aloha 'aina
malama | mahi | 'ulu
to care for, nurture, steward
to live aloha 'aina as a pillar of your spiritual foundation, malama is at the core. To embody malama as a daily practice means to care for your land with a heart centered love. This means to respect all parts of the environment. Because the land, ocean, winds, rains, mountains, and valleys all have significance on this planet, aloha 'aina is to exhibit reverence and honor for these facets of creation. When a kanaka embodies malama, the people around feel safe, cared for, and honored. When malama is missing, negligence and abuse takes place.
To malama is to nurture with an intention of maintaining life.
to cultivate & develop
to apply aloha 'aina as a lifestyle, mahi is a fundamental principle. Mahi, is to cultivate and develop. In other words, it is to intentionally take time to germinate internal potential. Every seed, huli kalo (taro stem), or tree cutting has the mana (life force) potential to become its fullest version that can provide nourishment. This process of cultivation is often times an arduous one. There are struggles, triumphs, and lessons that are all apart of the developmental process. Understanding this, you can find relation within how the land cultivates itself to how you as a kanaka can cultivate your greatest potential in your life.
To mahi is to cultivate with the intention of producing life.
to grow, prosper, flourish
In the manifested practice of aloha 'aina, we begin to 'ulu. The 'ulu (Hawaiian breadfruit) is another staple of the kanaka maoli. As a kinolau (plant form) of Ku, who represents the divine masculine energy as a farmer, fisherman, and warrior amongst others, the 'ulu represents prosperity when we apply ourselves correctly. Within this story, we can learn that living aloha 'aina is not a fruitless life, but rather a fruitful and abundant one. Our connection, care, and cultivating spirit of the land, as well as growing our own mana, leads to experiencing that same prosperity within our own life's path.
To 'ulu is to prosper with the intention of giving life.
kou kuleana i aloha 'aina
your responsibility & privilege
Kuleana, meaning responsibility and privilege, is a decision that we all have as humans on this planet. Whether you are a kama'aina o Hawai'i (child of Hawai'i), hoa malahini (fellow visitor/settler), or po'e haole (foreigners to Hawai'i), you carry the kuleana to malama, mahi, and ho'oulu the land you live on as well as the 'ohana (family), kaiaulu (community), and lahui (nation) that you are a part of.
There are many ways that you can begin to aloha 'aina whether you are currently living in Hawai'i or across our honua (planet).
has provided some ways for you to aloha 'aina:
You can begin to malama 'aina by:
1. Picking up 'opala (trash) when you notice it on the ground.
2. Maintain a clean environment where you live, work, and enjoy leisure.
3. Encourage others to malama their land as you malama yours.
You can begin to mahi 'aina by:
1. Start a mini garden in your yard to grow produce for your family.
2. Cultivate a healing space where friends and family can rejuvenate.
3. Volunteer at your nearest community farm to connect to the land deeper.
You can begin to ulu 'aina by:
1. Understanding your nearby ecosystems to support the total life-cycle.
2. Find ways to create community awareness on issues effecting water, land use, and eco-system balance.
3. Connect to the 'aina as an extension of your very life. You are the land & the land is you.