“Ka manu ahai, kanu awa ē”
The bird that clips the twig and plants it elsewhere.
I don’t know how long the creator has it for me to be at Ho‘okua‘āina, but I know that after my time there, I will take all that I have learned and use it most effectively. Like the manu, I also was “flighty” in action. I was following the flock. Thinking the western way of living was the only way to be successful. Now I have my own flock, my family, and it is my desire to be a better father, kāne, provider, and to raise our keiki in our culture. Like the kalo I cultivate, I plant aloha in my soil, water with intention and harvest with gratitude. This way I learn for the betterment of us…for the betterment of Hawai‘i.
Before taking on the kuleana as an intern (now co-manager) I was working at Down To Earth where I gained an understanding of healthy eating but also saw how disenfranchised the world of “health” is and how it didn’t seem accessible to everyone. Also at this time, I was also a student at UH Manoa and had found my calling in our native language. Soon I found that my “job” didn’t satisfy my spirit, moreover, the more I was learning about the realities of the world-history, injustices, discriminations and the like, both overseas and right here in Hawai’i. The more I desired to be the change (and work to change) these happenings of marginalization. How was I going to make it pono? I understood, alone I couldn’t solve all the problems, but I could do my part. Then, I realized what I was doing didn’t align with my values, so I searched for a new hana.
That search lead me to the lo‘i and to my second family at Ho‘okua‘āina where I have been cultivating kalo for almost two years. In addition, I am finishing up my degree in ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. It has been a learning curve for me for sure. For me, there are huge and small lessons that I have learned there. An example of something that I activate constantly and is something innate to Hawai’i is aloha! Every week, we have people visiting to either volunteer or work. And the growing food in and of itself is hard work! So, in order to maintain a mind of receiving ‘ike and to keep the lo‘i a place of learning I must remind myself to aloha. This is the work of our kupuna, and to perpetuate ‘ai pono, is to ensure our own people become healthy. On poi days, I am practicing food safety, time management, and constantly learning how to manage the hana that goes into large-scale food production. And of course, aloha is crucial in poi making. -it goes inside the poi, you know!
After I graduate, I want to continue to mahi‘ai and mālama ‘āina; to continue the work of my ancestors. Because of working here, I see the importance of making something of myself. Working to make our people healthy. Being a leader. Being compassionate….as a father, a kāne, and as a provider. Cultivating kalo for the next seven generations also guarantees my children’s children will have kalo, and with that, aloha ‘āina. Working at Ho’okua’aina is for the betterment of us…for the betterment of Hawai‘i.
Written By: Adam (Akamu) Po’oloa, Maintenance Farm Manager