As coastal and island communities in the Pacific and around the world experience rising sea levels and ocean temperatures, more extreme weather and changes in the timing of once-predictable natural events, turning to contemporary science and policymakers for solutions isn’t the only option.
For millennia, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Peoples have relied on lunar calendars to measure the cycles of the natural world and guide cultural, community and resource management praxis. ‘Aimalama: A Mauliauhonua Experience is a three-day conference taking place Aug. 9-11 at the University of Hawai‘i Maui College (UHMC) campus in Kahului. Attendees will be guided on how to create their own kaulana mahina (Hawaiian lunar calendar) specific to their local environments, strengthen their kilo (observation) skills and leverage best practices for recording site-specific natural events.
‘Aimalama is open to the public and includes keynote addresses, hands-on breakout sessions and a selection of huaka‘i (guided day trips) to organizations and community programs on Maui that incorporate lunar calendar knowledge and traditional observation practices in their endeavors.
Registration is available online by visiting aimalama.org and attendees can save $100 per person if they register before June 15. Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i residents unable to travel to Maui may register to participate in select sessions via distance-learning facilities at UHMC’s Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i education centers.
“We aim to make impact on a community level by encouraging people not just to rely on contemporary science and technology to measure what’s happening around us. We want to empower them to ‘be the app,’” said Kalei Nu‘uhiwa, a Hawaiian lunar practitioner and one of ‘Aimalama’s founders. “We are excited to build on the successes of our community-based workshops and 2015 conference to help island residents and leaders craft solutions to help us all thrive and survive the changing climate.”
The term “mauliauhonua” is a reference made to a family or community that has resided in a particular location for multiple generations. Mauliauhonua have personal collective experiences from their surroundings that have informed their methods of survival. Mauliauhonua communities have learned about the winds, rains, characteristics, seasons, flora and fauna resource behaviors, and social and political changes to a point where they have been able to adapt and survive efficiently in their own environments. Collectively, they have become their own specialized experts of their own geographical locations. ‘Aimalama’s goal is to provide tools on how to become mauliauhonua for families and communities in order to successfully and collectively adapt and survive the changing climate.
Keynote speakers include Hi‘ilei Kawelo, founder and executive director of Paepae o He‘eia fishpond, Dr. Rosie Alegado, assistant researcher in the Department of Oceanography at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and Hōkūlani Holt-Padilla, director of the Ka Hikina O Ka Lā student scholarship program at UHMC and kumu hula (hula teacher) and founder of hālau hula Pā‘ū O Hi‘iaka. Kawelo and Alegado will discuss their 12-year study at the fishpond, discoveries made regarding El Niño and La Niña, and how integrating ‘Aimalama methodologies informed their research. Holt-Padilla’s address will encourage participants to ponder the question, “What kind of ancestors do we want to be?”
Many Pacific societies are currently reviving and reconnecting with their ancestral lunar calendar to restore wisdom of agricultural productivity, marine and forest gathering, resource management, health and healing, and daily practices that provide sustenance for the health and well-being of communities. ‘Aimalama seeks to attract leaders and innovators operating at the intersection of ancestral knowledge and technological transformation to identify common ground to respond to community, regional and global challenges.
‘Aimalama: A Mauliauhonua Experience is sponsored by the Kama‘aha Education Initiative, University of Hawai‘i Maui College, Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Mo‘olelo Mahina and The Kohala Center.