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Hookuaaina Rebuilding Lives From The Ground Up

ʻĀina Momona

ʻĀINA MOMONA

Fat, fertile, rich land

ʻĀina Momona describes a land that is rich, abundant, plentiful, sweet and fat. It is a land that abounds in and produces much food. We see this in the word ʻāina itself. While often translated as “land”, in it we have the word ʻai, which also means to eat and is a way to refer to both food and kalo. Thus, in the Hawaiian worldview, ʻāina is not merely land, but land that is healthy and one that feeds and nourishes.

Would we consider our lands today to be ʻāina momona? 

Kailua was known as a land of abundance. Springs and freshwater streams flowed through the valley of Maunawili, pouring in and out of loʻi kalo, wetland taro fields, and emptying into Kawainui fishpond, which was teaming with life. Fast forward to 2007 when the land at Kapalai that Hoʻokuaʻāina currently stewards was completely overgrown with invasive weeds, California grass over 6 feet tall, and trees so thick that it was impossible to walk through. There were no loʻi, no kalo growing, and certain areas had even been used as a dumpsite. And yet, the ʻāina and spirit called out, and with the dedication of an ʻohana and the help of thousands of community members, Kapunawaiolaokapalai, the living and life-giving spring of Kapalai, has been restored to again being an ʻāina that grows food as well as people.

In 2019, we produced a little over 25-thousand pounds of raw kalo on just over three acres of land here at Kapalai. This is one small plot of land in one ʻili ʻāina (smaller land division) of one ahupuaʻa on the island of Oʻahu. Can you imagine what might happen if we began to restore the thousands of acres that are currently overgrown and unkept, even just on our small island? Think of the amount of food that could be produced and the number of kanaka (individuals) and families that might be restored in the process. 

When we consider the issues our communities face today, how might the restoration of ʻāina and the subsequent restoration of the kanaka who are called to be its stewards, address, or perhaps work to eliminate many of the challenges we face? In addition to growing more food, how might we make our island home more momona in ways that benefit the collective and not just the individual?

If we call Hawaiʻi our home, then we all have the kuleana (responsibility, privilege) to care for and to mālama this place. Let us catch a vision for what that might look like as we work together to cultivate and to steward abundance.

Inquiry

  • What would it look like for ʻāina to be thriving and healthy? 
  • What can our community do to help our ahupuaʻa, moku, and mokupuni to become more momona?
  • What can we as individuals do to help the ʻāina to become (or remain) momona?

Vocabulary

  • Waiwai: Wealth, rich, valuable, wealthy
  • ʻĀina: Land, that which feeds
  • Momona: Rich, abundant, plentiful, sweet, fat
  • Kanaka: Human being, individual, person
  • Loʻi kalo: Wetland taro fields
  • ʻIli / ʻIli ʻāina: Smaller land division than an ahupuaʻa
  • Ahupuaʻa: Land division that typically went from the mountains to the sea.
  • Kapunawaiolaokapalai: The living, healing, life-giving spring of Kapalai. Name of ʻāina Hoʻokuaʻāina stewards. 
  • Kuleana: Responsibility, privilege, authority
  • Mālama: To care for
  • Kilo: To observe, watch closely

Moʻolelo

Mai Hoopalaleha i ke Kanu Kalo
View The Moʻolelo: Mai Hoopalaleha i ke Kanu Kalo Here Reflection Questions
  • What is the author urging readers to do? What is the underlying fear?
  • Where is this taking place? What was that area like at the time this article was written?
  • What is it like today? Would we describe it as ʻāina momona today? Why or why not? Why and how do you think this transition took place?
  • What can we do to make our ʻāina more momona?
Mākālei
View The Moʻolelo: Mākālei Here Reflection Questions
  • In the moʻolelo of Mākālei, what was Kawainui? Did people gather food there? How does this compare with Kawainui today?
  • What did the people of Waimānalo and Kailua do in order to mālama (care for) Kawainui fishpond? Why did they do this? What were they able to accomplish?
  • Based on the moʻolelo, would you consider Kailua to be momona (a place of abundance)? Why or why not?
  • What can we learn from the moʻolelo about how to cultivate and steward abundance?
No Ka ʻĪlio Moʻo
View The Moʻolelo: No Ka ʻĪlio Moʻo Here Reflection Questions
  • If Kaʻahumanu sent messengers all the way over to Kailua to get food, what does this moʻolelo teach us about the ʻai (food) and ʻāina in Kailua?
  • Based on the moʻolelo, what do we learn about the ʻāina in Kailua? Was it momona? How can we tell?
  • What would it take to get the ʻāina back to this state?
No na wahi a na’Lii e makemake ai e noho i ka wa kahiko ma ka Mokupuni o Oahu Nei
View The Moʻolelo: No na wahi a na’Lii e makemake ai e noho i ka wa kahiko ma ka Mokupuni o Oahu Nei Here Reflection Questions
  • What do we notice about the descriptions of ʻāina here in this moʻolelo? Do you recognize these place names? What are these places like today?
  • Based on the moʻolelo, what do we learn about the ʻāina in Kailua? Was it momona? How can we tell?
  • What would it take to get the ʻāina back to this state?
  • What life lessons might we learn from this moʻolelo? How might it connect with our ʻōlelo noʻeau?

Possible Extension Activities

Kilo (Observations)
Using as many senses as possible, what do you notice about the ʻāina (including fresh and saltwater resources) in your area? Record these items in our Kilo Journal or in a notebook and track them over time.
  • What plants and animals are growing? What do they sound, smell, and feel like (as appropriate)? Do they change at different times of the day or year?
  • When does it rain? What does the rain look, sound, smell, feel, and taste like? Are there different types of rains that I notice? What are their characteristics? Where and when do the clouds gather? Are there different types of clouds that come around at different times of the day or at different times of the year?
  • What do our streams, rivers, and springs look like? Do they change over time? What does the rain look, sound, smell, and feel like?
  • What is happening in the ocean? What do you see, smell, hear, feel (and taste if appropriate)? Does the activity (waves, animals, limu, etc.) change at different times of the day or year? Are there different types of fish, limu, or other animals present at different types of the year?
Māla ʻAi

In addition to kalo, you could find ways to grow other types of food at home such as kale, lettuce, tomatoes, microgreens, etc. If you have a yard, create a māla (garden) by finding an area that will provide you adequate water and sunlight. If you do not have enough space on your ʻāina, you could mix your soil and compost and place it into buckets or large bins with adequate drainage.
  • Math: Measure the area needed to plant. Create a sketch of the area with a key that includes your measurement scale. Be sure to map out where each of your plants will go. Each kalo should be around one haʻilima (from elbow to fingertip) apart.
  • Science: Prepare the soil mixing it with natural organic fertilizers and/or compost before planting. Do daily observations of your kalo and other things in the ʻāina. You can record this data along with measurements on a data table or use our Kilo Journal.
  • English: Write poems, reflections, or short stories about your māla and the food you are growing. Write an argumentative essay or constructed response about the importance of food sovereignty and growing our own food.
  • Social Studies: Research the konohiki, ahupuaʻa, and moku systems in Hawaiʻi and the self-sufficiency of traditional Hawaiian land management.
Reflection Questions
  • What have you learned about what your plants need to stay healthy? How do they respond to different things you have or have not done?
  • How are tasks like watering and pulling weeds essential to the healthy growth of your plants? What happens when you do or don’t do these things?
  • How might caring for those plants also help you, your family, and your community to thrive?
  • Do you notice a shift in your own demeanor when you see your plants thriving?
  • What do you think would happen if you were not there to care for your māla? How would its health be affected? How would you be affected as well?
Kuʻi Kalo
  • Prepare kalo to be eaten by cooking and cleaning.
  • Cut kalo
  • Kuʻi
  • Enjoy
Stages of Ku'i Kalo

Download Our Stages of Kuʻi Worksheet

Kapalai Kitchen
Try some of these other great recipes: Kapalai Kitchen
  • Math: Measure ingredients, making adjustments with correct proportions if cooking more or less than what is shared. Given how much of each type of food (kalo, kale, lettuce, etc.) you eat in a given week, calculate the amount of food you need to plant to be able to have enough of that item to satisfy your needs.
  • Science: Study fermentation of poi. Do taste tests and observations. How does it change from one day to another? What are the effects on your gut biome and overall health? Compare it with other fermentation processes, such as kimchee and sauerkraut.
  • English: Design videos or blog entries with pictures sharing your own culinary creations.
  • Social Studies: Consider the statement, “Our food systems determine our social systems.” Create an argumentative essay, constructed response, or video addressing the following questions: Is there truth to this statement? How would we evaluate our current food and social systems? What practical things can you do to improve them? What impacts could this have on Hawaiʻi and the world?
Hookuaaina Rebuilding Lives From The Ground Up

Hoʻokuaʻāina is located in the ahupuaʻa of Kailua at Kapalai in Maunawili on the island of Oʻahu.

For more information about our programs or how you can get involved please contact us.

visit us

916E Auloa Rd.

Kailua, HI 96734

mail

P.O. Box 342146

Kailua, HI 96734

follow us

Hookuaaina Rebuilding Lives From The Ground Up

Hoʻokuaʻāina is located in the ahupuaʻa of Kailua at Kapalai in Maunawili on the island of Oʻahu.

For more information about our programs or how you can get involved please contact us.

visit us

916E Auloa Rd.

Kailua, HI 96734

mail us

P.O. Box 342146

Kailua, HI 96734

email us

Reach Us At:

info@hookuaaina.org

follow us

Hoʻokuaʻāina is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization

© Hoʻokuaʻāina 2020 All Rights Reserved | Terms & Conditions | Privacy | Site By Created By Kaui

Hoʻokuaʻāina is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization

© Hoʻokuaʻāina 2020 All Rights Reserved | Terms & Conditions | Privacy | Site By Created By Kaui

Hoʻokuaʻāina is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization

© Hoʻokuaʻāina 2020 All Rights Reserved | Terms & Conditions | Privacy

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