Understanding mana

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In December 2017, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs published Mana Lāhui Kānaka, a 300-page multidimensional study of mana: what it is, how to articulate and how to access and cultivate it in order to uplift our communities. Throughout the year, Ka Wai Ola will be sharing manaʻo about mana, starting with thoughts from Aaron Salā, one of more than 100 community members who was engaged to contribute manaʻo on mana to be incorporated in the book:

“Mana to me, right now, is acknowledging and engaging with the notion that we are part of a genealogy that is ongoing. We are part of a legacy. Understanding our place in that legacy, understanding our place in our genealogy, understanding where we stand with our ancestors so that we know how to prepare for our descendants is for me mana. And our responsibilities to our ancestors, so that our descendants can also retain and maintain and perpetuate, but also to innovate and to live and to learn, are all part and parcel of what it means to be in mana, what it means to live in mana, what it means to breathe mana. That’s what mana is to me.

“A manaful moment in my life was on December 1, 2009. I was witness, I was there in the room for the birth of my first son Carl Richard Kamaluikealohakaʻihilani Salā. I don’t think words can articulate what those moments are like. To see the birth of my own son, that is a powerful, powerful moment. It reminded me that I am not alone in the world. It reminded me that I have responsibilities beyond myself, and it reminded me that how I ʻauamo, how I hoʻokō those responsibilities that have ramifications beyond my own lifetime and was probably one of the most manaful moments in my life.”

Mana Lāhui Kānaka is available at www.oha.org/mana. In subsequent months, OHA will be reaching out to larger communities to discuss mana, in person and online. Kānaka ʻŌiwi are encouraged to participate and express their own ideas on how mana can be used to strengthen communities, and the lāhui at large. Follow us and use the hash tag #manalahui on social media in the coming year.