Hānau ka ʻāina, hānau ke aliʻi, hānau ke kanaka
Born was the land, born were the chiefs, born were the common people.
The land, the chiefs, and the commoners belong together.
ʻŌlelo Noeʻau #466
Aloha mai kākou,
Prior to Western contact, we were a nation of almost a million strong thriving on a remote archipelago in the middle of the vast Pacific. How was this possible? The answer is found in the collective brilliance of our Lāhui and our traditions. Our moʻokūauhau not only connected the chiefs with the commoners, but also the kanaka with the land, the water, the animals and plants. Our culture dictated that pono was achieved when all of those in this genealogy reciprocally cared for each other.
With this cultural worldview serving as a guide, our kūpuna developed advanced systems of sustainability that protected the ʻāina while supporting the people. Our ancestors preserved the watershed, which brought water to the loʻi in the valleys, which then returned water to the streams. The stream water then replenished the estruaries with nutrients that helped sustain the fish being raised in the loko iʻa. It was a remarkably efficient system that fed our people by optimizing the use of the resources without waste. This is why the Hawaiian word ʻāina – encompassing the land, water and ocean – means that which feeds.
The introduction of Western concepts in the 18th century shattered this harmony. Natural resource exploitation, capitalism and private property led to the alienation of our people from the ʻāina, and the ʻāina from us. To make matters worse, the overthrow of our native kingdom devastated the collective pschye of our Lāhui, and the trauma from this injustice has afflicted Native Hawaiians for generations.
The fracturing of this native order has led to today’s dire state of the Lāhui and kanaka Hawaiʻi. Our land and water, which we sustainably managed for centuries and to which we have genealogical ties, are now controlled by others for others. This hurts our environment, which then hurts our culture, which then hurts the well-being of our people. When there is no water in the streams, the loʻi, loko iʻa and estruaries cannot produce sufficient food for the Lāhui. It should be no wonder then that Native Hawaiians are located at the bottom of nearly every socio-economic, educational and health statistic in Hawaiʻi.
So how do we make this pono? As the ʻŌlelo Noeʻau above explains, the ʻāina and kanaka belong together. While we can seem like a divided people, we really do not differ on many issues. Our culture and moʻokūauhau still connect us. And most importantly, we all want what is best for our Lāhui. Where we sometimes disagree is which path to take to achieve what is best for our Lāhui. But there are very few of these disagreements. We need to approach these disagreements understanding that we are on the same side. Let’s find common ground, show each other aloha and holomua together. If we tear each other down over these few differences, those who actually want to hurt the Lāhui win.
United, we have the political mana to effectuate change. We have the mana to reclaim our land and water so we can support our culture, which in turn will provide for our people. Ultimately, the success of our nation starts with us.
ʻO au iho nō me ke aloha a me ka ʻoiaʻiʻo,
Kamanaʻopono M. Crabbe, Ph.D.
Ka Pouhana/Chief Executive Officer