So many people have contacted me asking for reading lists on various Hawaiian subjects that I have finally started putting some on-line. The starter list is here. More will be added!
I recently had a request from a student I have not seen in twelve years. She would like to ʻuniki with me. Out of the blue, with no communication for twelve years, she wants to ʻuniki.
You do not simply show up to a kumu and ask to ʻuniki. ʻUniki is something which is earned after years of diligent study. And even among those who put in the time and effort, not all will ʻuniki.
Teachers cherish what they have learned from their teachers. They hold their knowledge close, because it is special. It is shared when students are ready and receptive. This is why an ´uniki ceremony is an ultimate achievement. The student has earned the teacher’s trust. The teacher trusts that the student will care for what has been taught. The teacher trusts that the student can discern what is appropriate and what is inappropriate. The teacher trusts that the student understands why things are done they way they are. The teacher knows that his or her teacher’s teachings will continue. So the teacher sends the student off on their own. They are free to create. What they must never do is disrespect what they have been taught, or betray the teacher’s trust.
My own opinion – if one asks to ʻuniki, one is not ready.
This excellent op-ed piece by ʻOhu Gon needs to be shared with many.
By Sam ‘Ohu Gon
September 4, 2016
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently unveiled a groundbreaking map of Central America that illustrates the critical role indigenous people play as caretakers of the region’s natural resources.
The map depicts Central America’s forest and marine ecosystems, along with the names, populations and locations of its indigenous peoples, who occupy almost 40 percent of the land and water area. And what the map clearly shows is telling: The best preserved natural resources are found where indigenous people live.
“You cannot talk about conservation without speaking of indigenous peoples and their role as the guardians of our most delicate lands and waters,” said Grethel Aguilar, a regional IUCN official. “They depend on those natural resources to survive, and the rest of society depends on their role in safeguarding those resources for the well-being of us all.”
The IUCN has made previous motions acknowledging indigenous people in conservation. But at this year’s World Conservation Congress, now underway in Honolulu, members will vote on a motion drafted by the cultural committee of the Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance that asks them to take additional steps toward integrating indigenous values, knowledge and approaches into efforts to address the world’s conservation challenges.
Why look to indigenous peoples?
Renowned philosopher Noam Chomsky says indigenous peoples have not commodified their relationship with the natural world. Their relationship is reciprocal: they care for their resources because their survival depends on it. Such a philosophy is desperately needed in Western societies today.
Prior to Western contact, Hawaiians embraced a reciprocal relationship with all elements of the natural world, regarding them as elders and physical manifestations of ancestors and gods.
Living on islands, with finite natural resources, they developed a mountains-to-sea system of resource management.
Within each ahupua‘a, or land division, there was an individual — the konohiki — trained from childhood to know the ahupuaa resources intimately, and who had the authority to set kapu — restrictions — when those resources were threatened, thereby bringing the resources back into balance.
The konohiki knew when each mountain tree was fruiting, when the birds of land or sea were nesting and when runs of fish were moving through the ahupua‘a — events that were extremely important to daily life.
Western approaches supplanted old relationships, disrupted ecological processes, commodified natural resources and essentially destroyed self-sufficiency.
Today, 85 to 90 percent of our food and other goods are imported from elsewhere, and the average citizen in Hawaii has little connection to the resources around them, much less a sense of kuleana — responsibility — for their care.
While we can’t easily return to the ancient ahupua‘a system, we can work to re-establish meaningful connections between people, places and resources that were its foundation. When people know and love their place and its resources, everyone benefits. The movement toward community-based marine management in Hawaii is all about this.
In rural areas like Haena on Kauai, Moomomi on Molokai, Kipahulu on Maui, and Kaupulehu on Hawaii island, indigenous communities, many of them lineal descendants of the land, are combining traditional Hawaiian approaches and modern science to restore their near-shore reefs and fisheries.
The idea is that if you engage the people of a place, who know the resources best, align them with the best of modern science and offer them an active and meaningful role in the conservation of those resources, good things happen.
Throughout the world, there is growing recognition that a new model of resource use and management is needed.
How do we achieve a more sustainable future for the planet?
The answer may lie in the caring, reciprocal relationship that indigenous people have with their resources and the natural world around them.
Sam ‘Ohu Gon, Ph.D., is a senior scientist and cultural adviser with The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii. He also is chairman of the Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance, whose cultural committee drafted IUCN Motion 83, affirming the role of indigenous cultures in conservation globally.
When I read this thoughtful post by Kumu Paul Neves, I was so touched that I asked him if I could share it here. He graciously said that I might. Mahalo no, Kumu Neves, for your heartfelt manaʻo!
Na Kumu Hula Paul Kevin Kealiïkea o Mano Neves
Mahalo Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa for always protecting us. We always seem to pump up the great impending disaster and we forget about the new rain that cleans our streams and refreshes our forests, flows anew to the sea and fills out water tanks. It washes the sorrows of our aina away and gives us so much to look forward to.
And yet does our Chamber of Commerce or business community ever acknowledge that if those mountains were 1,000ft instead of 14,000ft our unique opportunity to do business here on Moku o Keawe let alone live here, probably wouldn’t exist?
I have visited other parts of the world where such acknowledgement and respect are given, celebrated and their mountains or streams or oceans or creatures are given every protection.and respect.
Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa,, Hualalai, Kohala, Haleakala, Ka’ala and Wai’ale’ale are natural resources they do not exist because of human activity. But because of Akua!
Hawai’i needs to take care of these unique creations of nature. They provide a unique place for us to exist on their shoulders..
All the mauna are sacred and they prove their spiritual and unique presence each and every day and especially when a storm heads our way.
Mahalo Ke Akua for our mauna and the fresh rain and fresh start it brings!
Kumu Hula Paul Kevin Kealiïkea o Mano Neves
ʻO pano ia, ʻo panopano ʻo Kāne i ka pō panopano i hānau.
We have prepared as best we might, and Hilo now goes on about its business, cooking dinner, brushing dogs, checking out facebook, continuing the minutiae of daily life.
Meanwhile, we have watched a mass of cloud inexorably roll in from the ka hikina, the east. When I awoke this morning it was a huge grey wall behind the horizon line.
By nightfall it blotted out the east and roofed the lower parts of Hilo while Maunakea stood clear, silhouetted by the last light of dusk.
Whatever the causes, the climate has changed. It will change even more. We must learn to live in it.
It is dark now, and the rain is starting. Blessings and aloha, and we will see you on the other side of the storm!
In some ways, the traditional Hawaiian esthetic reminds one of the Art Nouveau movement. Both Hawaiian and Art Nouveau designers believed that all the arts should work in harmony to create a Gesamtkunstwerk, a “total work,” in which form, function, line, pattern, color and texture were ideally melded together into a harmonious expression. Traditional Hawaiian culture takes this esthetic a step farther, insisting that the spiritual qualities of the work also be in harmony with its tangible expression.
Items from skirts, to water gourds, to homes, to canoes were conformed to this esthetic before their physical creation, with appropriate prayer and sacrifice made from the first impulse of creation.
For example, the creation of a water gourd began well before the plant was harvested – with the spiritual cleansing and filling of the farmer as he prepared his digging stick to loosen the soil. Each phase, from preparing the ground, to planting the seeds, to guarding the crop, to harvest, to decorating, to final cleansing had to be carefully observed. “What use,” the traditionalist thinks, “to have a beautiful object if it is spiritually unclean?”
And how much more pleasurable to have a beautiful gourd which delights the eye which sees it, and the hand which touches it?
Above is an ipu pāwehe, a modern gourd I cured in the manner of the “tattooed gourds of Kauai.” Every detail to make it a fine water gourd was attended to. Even the shell stopper was selected because the pattern on the shell resembles the pattern I incised and dyed into the rind.
Welcome to the new format for the oldest continuously published Native Hawaiian website on the internet! We are editing and updating our hundreds of pages, so it will take a while, but we look forward to being optimized for all of the new gadgets out there so that we can bring you our favorite stories, articles, and information!