Huli ka lima i lalo means to turn the hand down. When our hands are turned down, they are working, they are productive, and they are stewarding that which is in front of them. This ‘ōlelo noʻeau invokes the image of hands planted in the lepo (dirt, earth) as they care for ʻāina. These hands are not just turned up waiting for something to happen or waiting for others to step in. They are taking initiative, they are planting and connecting, serving, helping, and stewarding well the kuleana (responsibility, privilege) they are given. They are caring well for ʻāina as well as for other kanaka, and it is from that place of both connection and action, that there is ola (life and health).
Through our cultivation of ʻāina, we as kanaka (people) have the privilege as well as the responsibility of helping ʻāina to thrive. It is not a hands-off approach, as we sometimes hear. The goal is not to remove people from ʻāina indefinitely. From a Hawaiian perspective, the health and wellbeing of both ʻāina and kanaka are tied and kanaka has a kuleana to mālama (care for) this relationship. When ʻāina is sick, we become sick, and when it is thriving, we also thrive; and vice versa. We see this in the cultivation of kalo. Kalo needs to be planted and tended to in order to thrive. While it can grow on its own, it responds best to the care of kanaka. This relationship, in and of itself, is lifegiving to both people and ʻāina, and, when cultivated well, the result is good, healthy, healing ʻai (food, taro) that nourishes us in mind, body, and spirit.
- What is your relationship with ʻāina like? Would you say it is healthy? Why or why not?
- How do you mālama (care for) ʻāina?
- What are practical ways you can “huli ka lima i lalo” and begin to cultivate ʻāina more? What might be the outcome of doing this?
- How might caring for ʻāina bring a healthier balance and well-being for you? How about for your family or community?
- Lōkahi: unity, agreement, harmony
- Huli: To flip, turn
- Lima: Hand
- Lalo: Down, downward
- Ola: Life, health, well-being; living; recovered; healed
- Mālama: To care for
- Kilo: To observe, watch closely
- 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?
- What life lessons might we learn from this moʻolelo? How might it connect with our ʻōlelo noʻeau?
- What is the author urging readers to do? What is the underlying fear?
- Where was this taking place? What was that area like at the time this article was written?
- What is this area like today? Are there hundreds of acres of loʻi kalo there today? Currently, do we see many people working this ʻāina? Is it producing food?
- Why and how do you think this transition took place?
- How do you think this author would react to seeing this ʻāina today? What might they do about it?
- What can we do to steward this ʻāina differently?
- How might we apply this ʻōlelo noʻeau to the information presented in this article?
Possible Extension Activities
- 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.
- What have you learned about what your kalo needs to stay healthy?
- How are tasks like watering and pulling weeds essential to the healthy growth of your kalo? What happens when you do or don’t do these things?
- How is this similar to how we care for ourselves and others? What are the things that we need to clear out? What are things that “water” us and keep us healthy and happy?
- Do you notice a shift in your own demeanor when you see the kalo thriving?
- What do you think would happen if you were not there to tend the kalo? How would its health be affected? How would you be affected as well?
- How might caring for the kalo also help you, your family, and your community to thrive?
Content on this page was written and compiled by Danielle Espiritu, Education Specialist