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Hookuaaina Rebuilding Lives From The Ground Up

Hele nō ka ʻalā, hele nō ka lima

Hele Nō Ka ʻAlā, Hele Nō Ka Lima

The rock goes, the hand goes

HELE NO KA ʻALĀ, HELE NO KA LIMA. #752*
The rock goes, the hand goes.
To make good poi, the freehand must work in unison with the poi pounder. Keep both hands going to do good work

Watching a skilled person kuʻi ʻai, or pound kalo into poi, is a sight to behold. From the careful tapping of the pōhaku’s (stone) edge during the nahā (cracked, broken) stage, to the gentle slapping (paʻipaʻi) heard as the broken pieces of kalo that have scattered across the board like islands in the ocean (mokumoku) are gathered back together (pili), there is a confidence, peace, and focus that exude as if in the ceremony. A graceful yet strong cadence marks each stroke as the freehand works in unison with the pōhaku kuʻi ʻai (poi pounder), pulling (huki), folding (pelu), and kneading the ʻai (taro) as the poi takes form.

Great care is given when we remember that the objective is not only to feed ourselves but to provide food and sustenance for others. As a result, when we sit down to kuʻi kalo, we do so with intention, bringing our best selves forward. 

This ʻōlelo noʻeau highlights the importance of developing skills that demonstrate excellence. Many things in life become art when people elevate a simple task into something of beauty. The process of learning to kuʻi kalo with the skill described above is exactly that – a process. For those unaccustomed, there will be moments of uncertainty and hesitation. However, when approached with humble determination as well as a desire to strive for excellence, the result is a confident grace that will not only bless the individual but will nourish their ʻohana and community as well.

No matter our age, let us ponder the areas we feel prompted to strive toward mastery. How might our pursuit of excellence not only benefit us personally but bring abundance to our families and community? 

Inquiry

  • What is something you would like to be excellent at? Why? 
  • What will it take to get there? What are the challenges you may face? How might you overcome them? 
  • Why is it worth it? What will you have accomplished and been able to enjoy once you reach this level of mastery? How will it affect you and others?

Vocabulary

  • Waiwai: Weath, rich, valuable, wealthy
  • ʻAlā: Dense waterworn volcanic stone, used for poi pounders
  • Lima: Hand
  • Kuʻi: To strike
  • ʻAi: To eat; kalo; food
  • Kuʻi ʻai / Kuʻi kalo: The process of pounding kalo into poi
  • Pōhaku kuʻi ʻai: Stone used to pound taro
  • Nahā: Cracked, broken
  • Paʻipaʻi: To slap
  • Mokumoku: Islands
  • Pili: Sticky
  • Huki: To pull
  • Pelu: To fold

Moʻolelo

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?
  • What life lessons might we learn from this moʻolelo? How might it connect with our ʻōlelo noʻeau?
Palila
View The Moʻolelo: Palila Here Reflection Questions
  • How did Palila’s upbringing help to prepare him for what he faced later in life?
  • What life lessons might we learn from this moʻolelo? How might it connect with our ʻōlelo noʻeau?

Possible Extension Activities

Kuʻi Kalo

  • Prepare kalo to be eaten by cooking and cleaning.
  • Cut kalo
  • Kuʻi
  • Enjoy

Dean Wilhelm, co-founder, and director of nonprofit organization Hoʻokuaʻāina demonstrates the traditional Hawaiian practice of Kuʻi ʻAi learned from Kupuna Earl Kawaʻa.

A treasured moment captured as Kupuna Earl Kawa’a teaches haumana (student) Kamuela Wilhelm the stages of ku’i ‘ai (making poi) all in ‘olelo Hawaii. (Hawaiian language).

Stage of Ku'i Kalo from Hookuaaina

Download Our Stages of Ku’i ‘Ai 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?

*Pukui, M. K., & Varez, D. (1983). ʻŌlelo Noʻeau: Hawaiian Proverbs & poetical sayings. Honolulu, Hawai’i: Bishop Museum Press.

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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