Pausing to Reflect


No‘ono‘o (nvt. Thought, reflection, thinking, meditation.)

Photo: Sylvia Hussey

Aloha mai kākou,

As a child growing up in Kohala, summer meant a “pause” in our family’s normal school and work routines – a time for the kids to attend summer fun and for our extended ‘ohana to spend weeks together camping at Spencer Beach Park in Kawaihae.

It was so much fun. All the kids slept crowded together in tents. As soon as the sun was up, we were in the ocean, splashing in the clear, crystalline water with the beach all to ourselves. Invariably, someone would step on wana while playing in the ocean, or get a kiawe thorn stuck in their rubber slipper while running through our campgrounds, but that did not deter us or ruin our fun.

Thinking about those summers in Kohala reminds me that taking time to pause and reflect, to quiet our minds and just “be” is healthy – even Ke Akua took time to rest. Midway through 2021, and about 18 months into the pandemic, seems like a good time to do that.

Back in July 2020, daily infection and death counts weighed heavily upon us. COVID-19 disrupted every aspect of our lives. Beyond fear of the disease itself – which has now killed a shocking 3.8 million people – economic systems were devastated, resulting in job loss and extreme financial hardship and hunger for the most vulnerable among us. Social distancing left many people isolated and lonely; depression, anxiety, and domestic violence increased.

Fast forward and July 2021 looks very different. Although the pandemic is not over and we must remain vigilant, vaccines are now available that can protect us from contracting or dying from this disease. Many businesses have now reopened with safety protocols in place, social interaction with friends and extended ʻohana has resumed, and this summer definitely feels more “normal” than the last one.

The pandemic held humanity hostage and as we slowly emerge from its grip, what have we learned about ourselves and our community? What roles did our ʻohana and moʻomeheu (culture) play in keeping us resilient? How did that influence the organic efforts in every kaiāulu (community) to mālama those who were struggling, especially our kūpuna? And what have we learned about the way the ʻāina recovers from too much of us – and how do we apply all of this ʻike as we move forward?

Mālama ʻāina and mālama olakino (health) feature prominently in this issue of Ka Wai Ola. A new document, Mai Ka Pō Mai, the fruit of a collaboration between government agencies and private citizens, scientists and cultural practitioners, lays the groundwork for management of Papahānaumokuākea in a way that is culturally appropriate and environmentally sound.

We also detail the Health Outcomes outlined in OHA’s Mana i Mauli Ola Strategic Plan, learn about the Kanilehua Framework for culturally based mental health, and hear from Kauaʻi physician Kapono Chong-Hanssen who addresses ʻŌiwi who remain skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccine.

And finally, we reflect on the origin and revitalization of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, Hawaiʻi’s first national holiday celebrated on July 31, and what it means to us today.

Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono.

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