MA KA HANA KA ʻIKE. #2088*
In working one learns.
When I learned to kuʻi kalo (pound taro into poi), there was not a lot of explanation. I watched as the uncles and others in our group prepared the buckets and butter knives, dipping their hands in cold water before grabbing the kalo (taro) from the pressure cooker to begin cleaning. Learning quickly that I would not receive a straight answer to any question I could ask, I jumped in and followed along, taking whatever direction was given. After a brief demonstration, I was allowed to approach the board, given the pōhaku kuʻi ʻai (a stone used to pound taro), and handed a few pieces of kalo that had been cooked, cleaned, and cut. As I began to kuʻi, I learned quickly that striking the kalo too hard at the beginning causes it to fly across my board, and I struggled, quite literally, to figure out why the ʻai (taro) was sticking so much to everything in spite of how much water I was adding to my pōhaku. Suffice it to say that I went home with puʻupuʻu (lumps) in my poi that day. Over time and without even noticing it, I became accustomed to the sound of the pressure cooker and smell of kalo as it finished cooking, the feel and motion of the pōhaku with each stroke, and the consistency of the ʻai when it is ready for me to begin adding water. [Doing so prematurely can make things particularly challenging, as I had previously discovered.] Though it took time, I had learned more about kuʻi kalo by experiencing it with all of my senses than I could have ever learned from a book. This is ma ka hana ke ʻike.
Ma ka hana ka ʻike (through doing one learns) is the ʻōlelo noʻeau for the current day educational term “experiential learning”. While books, lectures, and even educational videos are incredibly valuable, amazing sources of knowledge, there is nothing that can take the place of learning through action. This process takes time, attentiveness, humility, reflection, and persistence. It requires us to push through the discomfort and to rely on our naʻau (gut, mind, heart) and community to guide and journey with us. It is not easy; however, what we gain is significant. Entering in and experiencing the process allows us to learn with our whole selves, and not just our eyes and minds. All of our senses are sharpened and begin to engage as we learn to listen well both to one another and to our own intuition.
- In what ways do “book learning” and “experiential learning” differ? How are both valuable?
- How might my understanding of kalo farming be different if I had never stepped into a loʻi?
- What did it take to complete the task given to us? What did we learn?
- How might the ʻōlelo noʻeau, “Ma ka hana ka ʻike,” apply to my own learning experiences? Have I seen examples of this in my own educational journey, both in and out of the classroom?
- What type of learning do we typically see in the classroom? How might we shift or reimagine the learning experiences we offer to students like yourselves? What benefits might come from those changes?
- Laulima: Cooperation, joint action. Literally: many (400) hands
- Hana: To work or to do something
- ʻIke: To see, know, feel, recognize, experience, understand
- Kuʻi ʻai / Kuʻi kalo: The process of pounding kalo into poi
- Pōhaku kuʻi ʻai: Stone used to pound taro
- Kuʻi: To strike
- ʻAi: Kalo; food; To eat
- Puʻupuʻu: Lump(s)
- Naʻau: Gut; mind; heart
- Kuleana: Responsibility, privilege, authority
Lā, ʻŌpua, Lā
Lā, ʻŌpua, Ua, ʻŌpua, Lā
Lā, ʻŌpua, Ua, Kuahiwi, Ua ʻŌpua, Lā
Lā, ʻŌpua, Ua, Kuahiwi, Wailele, Kuahiwi, Ua ʻŌpua, Lā
Lā, ʻŌpua, Ua, Kuahiwi, Wailele, Kahawai, Wailele, Kuahiwi, Ua ʻŌpua, Lā
Lā, ʻŌpua, Ua, Kuahiwi, Wailele, Kahawai, Punawai, Kahawai, Wailele, Kuahiwi, Ua ʻŌpua, Lā
Lā, ʻŌpua, Ua, Kuahiwi, Wailele, Kahawai, Punawai, Inu wai, Kahawai, Wailele, Kuahiwi, Ua ʻŌpua, Lā
Hoʻokuaʻāina has not written and does not have the rights to this mele.
- Lā: Sun
- ʻŌpua: Puffy, billowy cloud
- Ua: Rain
- Kuahiwi: Mountain
- Wailele: Waterfall
- Kahawai: Stream
- Punawai: Freshwater spring
- Inu wai: To drink water
Hoʻokuaʻāina did not compose and do not have the rights to this mele.
- As you learn the mele, how do we see the ʻōlelo noʻeau, Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke, reflected?
- How does this mele help strengthen your understanding of the movement of wai (freshwater) in our islands?
Possible Extension Activities
- 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?
- What were you able to accomplish together?
- Take time to express appreciation for each person. What are the positive things they did or what did you notice about how they performed certain tasks that you want to highlight? Spend time thanking and/or encouraging one another.
- What were the areas of challenge? How did you overcome them or how might you overcome them in the future?
- The importance of individual kuleana: Why is each puzzle piece important? What would happen if a piece was missing? What would happen if all pieces were the same?
- The importance of coming together: While each piece individually is beautiful, why is it significant to come together at the end?
- The ʻōlelo noʻeau & process: How does this process reflect the ʻōlelo noʻeau, Ma ka hana ka ʻike?
- Explain their sketch
- Write a creative story to match their drawing
- Write an argumentative essay that connects with their drawing and the ʻōlelo noʻeau
- Prepare kalo to be eaten by cooking and cleaning.
- Cut kalo
- 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?
- Sterling & Summers. 1978. Sites of Oahu
- Pukui, Elbert & Mookini. 1974. Place Names of Hawaiʻi
- Akana & Gonzales. 2015. Hānau Ka Ua
- Hawaiian Dictionary
- Hawaiian Language Newspapers
- Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge Resources
- Pictures & Other Documents:
- Bishop Museum Archives
- Hawaiʻi State Archives:
- Ulukau Hawaiian Electronic Library
- For information relating to KAILUA, click here.
- How do those activities strengthen your connection with wai?
- How do these connections strengthen your overall health and the health of ʻāina?
*Pukui, M. K., & Varez, D. (1983). ʻŌlelo Noʻeau: Hawaiian Proverbs & poetical sayings. Honolulu, Hawai’i: Bishop Museum Press.
Content on this page was written and compiled by Danielle Espiritu, Education Specialist