“Aloha ‘āina” is a term that conveys a love for the land and the people of the land. Wahi pana or storied places are those significant properties whose importance is rooted in our shared past. Mary Kawena Pukui describes in her ethnographic notes, “How Legends Were Taught” that,
Stories of places, ‘nā wahi pana,’ were freely discussed. It was a matter of pride to the people of a locality to have many places of interest to point out to a visitor and to know the legends connected with each one. The more noted places there were, the greater the pride of the inhabitants who knew. They loved and named even the rocks and trees…
Ke Ali‘i Bernice Pauahi Bishop was a gifted writer and penned an essay at the Royal School titled, “Our Native Land” where she praises Hawai‘i’s landscapes as being the most hospitable and pleasant in the world. In this essay, now held at the Bishop Museum Archives, Pauahi eloquently ponders:
The people of Iceland have a saying that “Iceland is the best land on which the sun ever shines.” If the inhabitants of such a cold and cheerless region think their land the best on the earth, how much more reason have those born in these beautiful Islands to love their native country and to consider it preferable to all others. If I had ever had an introduction to the Muses, I would importune them to assist me just once, that I might in flowing numbers sing my country’s praise – but alas! – They are strangers to me – and I should in vain solicit their aid. I must be content with prose and that of the plainest kind for I am writing in a foreign tongue.
We do indeed feel attached to our own lovely Island home, notwithstanding she is called “a heathen country.” We are proud of her romantic scenery, her mountains and valleys, and everything with which nature has decorated her – Where is there a more romantic and attractive spot than that wonder of the world – Kilauea?
What country can rival ours in beauty, even foreigners themselves being judges? Let the Americans boast of their splendid forests, their extensive prairies, their Niagara falls, their majestic rivers, their wide spread lakes – but have we not beautiful scenery surpassing theirs. But when American travelers visit these shores do they not find wonders here to feast themselves with which they do not elsewhere?
The climate here is also delightful. Snow storms, hurricanes, and cold piercing winds common in cold countries are unknown here. Neither are we subject to excessive heat – such as I experienced in hot/climate. Even in the Northern part of the United States the thermometer is known to rise higher than it does here. How often do you hear those from bleak New England speak of the weeks when the sun could not be seen – of the aching fingers and frozen toes?
I saw a letter recently from a young lady in Massachusetts who said in speaking of the weather, that when she dated her letter “the fair day” it was not necessary to mention the day of the month. The fair days being so scarce that there was no chance of a mistake. It is doubtless our lovely climate that brings back to us so many of our dear friends.
Years pass away in these sunny Isles and they forget the rigors of the climate where they spent their younger days. On returning to it they feel that they cannot endure it and wish themselves again at the Sandwich Isles.”
We, just like Ke Ali‘i Pauahi, feel aloha for Hawai‘i because we are honoring our Akua and kūpuna when we engage, interact, care for and utilize our lands in respectful and thoughtful ways. Tremendous foresight accompanies ideas of how our lands can best feed and nurture our needs today as well as for future generations.
To all those who care for the ‘āina and focus on the various ways that our lands may sustain us physically, materially, as well as emotionally and spiritually, we owe you a great debt and aloha nui.