Aloha ʻĀina Kākou!

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Dan Ahuna, Vice Chair, Trustee, Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau

It’s been a full year of living in this global pandemic. As I reflect upon all that has happened, I recognize a common denominator in all that has carried us through. Though our lāhui has faced many new challenges along with the rest of the world, we have surely met them with great resiliency and have taken the time, collectively, to stay grounded in what matters so much to us…ʻāina.

When all we have to rely on is ourselves, ʻāina always has been, and always will be, our saving grace and balance. ʻŌlelo noʻeau 466 speaks to this and tells us, Hānau ka ʻāina, hānau ke aliʻi, hānau ke kanaka. Born was the land, born were the chiefs, born were the common people.

Our kūpuna recognized that our Kānaka and ʻāina belong together. The impacts of COVID-19 over this last year have magnified the importance of our traditions and ways of life, our communities, our economics, and government systems that we live in today, echoing the words of many ʻōlelo noʻeau which speak to our relationship to ʻāina and this coexistence.

We’ve seen individuals and entire communities step up and ʻauamo the kuleana to care for and help each other.

With all the barriers of “social distancing” and “limited contact,” we are sharing information and engaging whenever and however we can to support each other on many levels. I’ve observed and worked alongside more hui coming together and organizing. I’ve witnessed and heard so many heartwarming stories during this time. More importantly, we are finding ways to feed each other. With food, with knowledge, with skills, through education, and with ʻāina at the core.

We have up-and-coming leaders using their platforms for pono and sharing our stories in great capacities in communities, on the continent, and globally. Congressman Kai Kahele recently spoke and brought further attention to ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, openly sharing his kuleana with the many hats he wears daily, never straying far from his roots and his aloha to his ʻāina…our ʻāina. What a great example and real testament of a modern, engaged, and progressive Kanaka.

Here at home on Kauaʻi, I am so blessed to see this ʻāina aloha up close and personal, working and living alongside our fearless island people. Within this aloha for ʻāina also come the tasks to maintain, operate, and protect our ʻāina. Living wahi pana like our Hanapēpē Salt Ponds, Waiʻoli, Hulēʻia, Kipu Kai, Hāʻena, and many more are in need of the same fierce aloha we put into our people and practices.

In other parts of the pae ʻāina it is the same.

In county and state arenas, plans for Wahiawā and Kūkaniloko are a main focus, along with Kakaʻako Makai sparking big conversation, the stoicism of Waimea Valley operations during this time, the management of Maunakea, all our Hawaiian Homelands, Public Land Trust lands, the list goes on. The value of our ʻāina includes, but goes far beyond, monetary means – it is in who we are as Kānaka. I hope to see an increase in efforts to further mālama our ʻāina.

Let’s keep our conversations going, raise our community engagement, and maintain our relationships on all levels. What’s good for ʻāina is good for kānaka, and what’s good for kānaka is good for everyone. ʻĀina is the reason.

Mālama pono!