Aloha ʻĀina


Photo: Kalei Cirillo Nahinu

By Kalei Cirillo-Nahinu, Grade 8 Mālama Honua PCS

To me, aloha ʻāina is perpetuating Hawaiian practices and taking care of and loving the land. I live aloha ʻāina by learning about Hawaiian traditions and ʻike Hawaiʻi.

One thing we do at Mālama Honua Public Charter School is hana kūpono. Hana kūpono is showing respect to ʻāina before gathering materials. Kumu Kaʻanohi Kalama-Macomber taught my class about the process of making papa and pōhaku kuʻi ai (poi pounding board and stone), including hana kūpono, carving, and perpetuating culture. These lessons helped me become more confident in my cultural identity and develop an aloha ʻāina mindset.

Hana kūpono means to do the right thing, at the right time, with the right intention, with the right people, and at the right place. Hana kūpono creates a pono mindset of respecting ʻāina before you gather materials.

When you begin hana kūpono, there are steps to follow: 1) Hoʻomana – compliment/ uplift; 2) Mihi – ask for forgiveness; 3) Hoʻolauna – introduce yourself; 4) Noi – request; 5) Mahalo – thank; and 6) Hoʻomana – compliment.

My class practiced hana kūpono when we collected materials to make our papa and pōhaku in seventh grade. To carve our papa, we also had to make a koʻi (adze), which has a handle made of hau. We went to a space that had lots of hau trees and used our kilo (observation) skills to look for a specific branch. Before we could gather, we had to complete our protocol of hana kūpono. We also used this protocol when we gathered our pōhaku, asking ʻāina for permission.

“He aliʻi ka ʻāina, he kauā ke kanaka.” This ʻōlelo noʻeau means “land is chief, and we are its servant” and shows aloha ʻāina because we need to treat our ʻāina as if it is our chief. The ʻāina has created a space where we can live and thrive.

So, what can I do? When I work in the mala, plant native plants, and remove invasive plants, I am giving to ʻāina and treating ʻāina like a chief. When I tell moʻolelo that uplift ʻāina, I am treating ʻāina like a chief. When I call ʻāina by its right name, I am respecting ʻāina just like I respect people. When I practice hana kūpono, I am treating ʻāina like a chief.

Photo: Haumāna clear ong choi from the loʻi at Kaʻuluakalana
Haumāna clear ong choi from the loʻi at Kaʻuluakalana. – Courtesy Photo

We should all have an aloha ʻāina mindset because it can help us create a better understanding of who we are by connecting us to our kūpuna/ancestors. I learn more about myself when I am working in the ʻāina because it gives me the time to think about my past, not two years ago but to my kūpuna and who they are, and my future.

When I feel lost and need to find meaning or understanding, I know that when I work in the ʻāina and connect to my kūpuna and to myself, I can find who I am. An aloha ʻāina mindset connects you to who you are and gives you a pilina with kūpuna and ʻāina.