Beloved Pololū

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By Leiana Carvalho, Grade 11, Kohala High School

Photo: Leiana Carvalho

Mai ka makani maikaʻi o Kohala welina me ke aloha kākou. ʻO wau ʻo Leiana Kuʻuwehiwaimapumekekaluheaonaʻaliiwahine Carvalho. ʻO Honomakaʻu, Kohala, Hawaiʻi kuʻu ʻāina hānau. ʻO Pololū au. ʻO Pololū kākou.

From the winds of Kohala greetings to you all. I am Leiana, born and raised in Honomakaʻu. I am Pololū. We are all, Pololū.

Pololū Valley is a sacred place to Kohala. This valley holds an extraordinary amount of mana to the past and our ancestors. The Kohala community possesses a unique history and relationship to this special place, a world hidden from malihini footsteps and parked cars. Our pilina to ʻāina is on many levels, through our genealogy as Kānaka, our kuleana to care for the land, and through our moʻolelo.

Our moʻokūʻauhau connects Pololū to the first kalo and Kānaka from whom we are all descended. Our kūpuna taught us that Pololū, Kohala, Hawaiʻi was first home to Wākea and Papa. Through their union we have ko Hawaiʻi Pae ʻĀina, kalo, and Kānaka. Pololū is also a beloved kalo variety to our people. It is from this place, and with this understanding, that it nourished our kūpuna. It allowed them to thrive in the valleys of Kohala through Hāmākua for centuries.

The Pololū stream is a treasured feature that supplies the brackish water pond found at the bed of the valley. The rich nutrients from this water would allow protein sources such as iʻa and ʻōpae to supplement the ancient diet. This allowed ka poʻe o Kohala to produce food and supply a prospering community.

This abundance of food sources made possible through ke kahawai nui o Pololū is a metaphor for the mixing of ethnicities that took place there too. When Chinese families migrated to Hawaiʻi, the production of rice began. They worked alongside each other to grow rice and kalo. I am both Hawaiian and Chinese. This valley was a meeting point where these two cultures came together resulting in a multicultural structure. Pololū valley holds a deep connection to my ʻohana where my two ancestors entwined. Mahalo e Pololū for raising me.

My grandfather, Galo Fernandez, was born and raised in Kohala ʻĀkau. “Back then, we got around this town on horseback,” he recalls. “Some of my greatest memories are going down in the valley. My friend Buzzy Sproat and I would ride horses down in the valley and stay at the cabin in ʻĀwini. We would hunt and bring home food to give [to] our families and friends.”

This tale is common to ʻohana of Kohala who call Pololū their home. To share in the bounty with loved ones on the journey home connects each person to Pololū. My grandfather was saddened to hear the news about plans to develop a parking lot and proposed subdivision on this sacred land. He proclaims, “I was in the valley so often, I was practically raised there, and it should not be used for money-making.”

Let us all remember our aloha to this wahi pana, Pololū, Kohala.