Molokaʻi nō ka Heke


Kia‘i (nvt. Guard, watchman, caretaker.)

Photo: Sylvia Hussey

Aloha mai kākou,

The first time I visited Molokaʻi was in a professional capacity.

It was the mid-1980s. I had recently graduated from college and was working as an auditor – part of a team with kuleana to audit the state’s network of government-funded community hospitals. We were there to audit Molokaʻi General Hospital, which actually became part of the Queen’s Health System a couple years later.

The firm I worked for was based in Honolulu and had booked our team to stay at the (then) Sheraton Kaluakoʻi Resort in Maunaloa – some distance from the hospital in Kaunakakai.

The morning we arrived on Molokaʻi we went straight to the hospital to work. With limited options for dining out, our plan was to purchase food and prepare our own dinner and breakfast at the hotel. We left the hospital a bit early to make it to the grocery store which closed at 5:00 pm.

We divided up the shopping – the guys would pick up their beer and get steaks and potatoes to cook for our dinner, and I would get fruit and pastries for breakfast. We made our purchases and drove to the hotel. It wasn’t until we arrived there that we discovered to our dismay that the guys had left the bag with the steak and potatoes on the grocery counter – although they remembered their beer.

My first night on Molokaʻi I had a very memorable dinner of pastries and fruit!

Since then I have visited Molokaʻi many times in various professional capacities, and one of the things that has continually impressed me about the Kānaka Maoli of Molokaʻi is how fiercely they guard and protect their ʻohana, moʻomeheu (culture) and ʻāina from outsiders who seek to profit from, or impose unwanted changes to, their way of life.

On Molokaʻi, with many residents living a more sustainable lifestyle, ʻike kūpuna is not just remembered and practiced, but adapted for contemporary application. Living close to the natural rhythms of the land and sea, kilo (observation) and makaʻala (vigilance) are valued skills, and the ʻohana there are kiaʻi (guardians) of their land, lifestyle and people – a model of community advocacy and resilience.

In this issue of Ka Wai Ola, we learn about the work of Ahupuaʻa o Molokaʻi’s Hānai Ā Ulu Native Crops Project and their efforts to build sustainability and food security for Molokaʻi homesteaders. In addition to helping homesteaders start gardens, they have established a limu nursery with an educational component on Molokaʻi’s south shore.

Also in this issue, four ʻŌiwi from Molokaʻi share their manaʻo about the challenges facing their island, a respected Molokaʻi park ranger and storyteller talks about why she and her ʻohana decided to get vaccinated against COVID-19, while OHA cultural specialist Kalani Akana shares famous sayings about Molokaʻi. We also present in greater detail the second strategic direction of OHA’s new Mana i Mauli Ola strategic plan – Quality Housing.

“Me Molokaʻi Nui a Hina, ʻāina i ka wehiwehi, e hoʻi nō au e pili.”

Sylvia M. Hussey, Ed.D.
Ka Pouhana/Chief Executive Officer