The āhole fish (Kuhlia sandvicensis) is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. It is a small but delicious fish, growing to an average size of 12 inches. The name āhole refers to the adult stage of the fish and āholehole to the young stage. Like some of the other Hawaiian fish that are good eating, āhole like brackish water, especially in their juvenile stage. Also called puaʻa kai (sea pig), āhole could be used in ceremony as a substitute for a pig. One of the meanings of āhole is to fidget or to be restless, thus āhole was commonly used in hana aloha (love magic). Kānekololou was a god often petitioned in hana aloha for his ability to loulou, or hook people together.
He aha ka iʻa e Kānekololou? What is the fish, o Kānekololou?
The high mountains of Maui and Hawaiʻi are home to a unique group of endemic plants called ʻāhinahina (genus Argyroxiphium). The five species, also known as green swords and silverswords, thrive in extreme conditions from summit bogs to alpine deserts. Their leaves form a gorgeously rotund rosette. A mature plant produces a stunning flowering stalk that is very kū (erect), copious amounts of seeds, and then dies (this can take 50 years or more, for the Haleakalā silversword). The now extinct A. virescens once lived at Puʻunianiau, East Maui. The threatened A. caliginis lives in the lush bogs of ʻEke and Puʻu Kukui, West Maui. Haleakalā is home to A. sandwicense subsp macrocephalum, which was nearly extinct, but saved by fencing and feral goat eradication. The rarest species come from Mauna Loa (A. kauense, or Kaʻū silversword) and Mauna Kea (A. sandwicense subsp sandwicense). Down to less that 100 and 15 wild individuals respectively, large-scale collaborative restoration efforts have resulted in the out-planting of more than 10,000 seedlings for each species. Both are now breeding on their own - a huge success considering their former status. We are thankful that these kiaʻi (guardians) of the mauna (mountain) will be around for our moʻopuna (grandchildren) to experience. Kau keha i ka wēkiu - Resting dignified at the highest point.
Other names for the Hawaiian raspberry are kala and ʻākalakala, and they apply to two species: Rubus hawaiiensis (found on Kauaʻi, Molokaʻi, Maui, and Hawaiʻi) and R. macraei (found on east Maui and Hawaiʻi). Like the names suggest, ʻākala is one of the few native plants with thorns (kala, kākala), albeit fairly small and inoffensive ones. Most Hawaiian plants did not need thorns or other defenses because there were no native grazing mammals (cows, deer, goats, etc.) to fend off. The same is not true for their non native counterparts, like R. ellipticus, a.k.a. yellow Himalayan raspberry, whose armor of razor sharp thorns can seriously hurt you. R. ellipticus is also the most invasive of the non-native raspberry species introduced to Hawaiʻi. It grows in dense thickets, suffocating and crowding out native species. ʻĀkala is found at high elevations in mesic to wet forests and woodlands. Beautiful dark pink flowers produce large juicy fruits that range from yellow to dark red and were traditionally used to produce dye for kapa. It is rumored that the tart and succulent fruits are also great for making pies and jams. Ka hua wai nui o ka nahele - The juicy fruit of the wilderness.
The ʻākoʻakoʻa (coral) is the very first organism born in the Kumulipo and has the ability to remain strong and steadfast in rough ocean conditions. Human activity is causing ocean temperatures to rise, compromising the health of the world's coral reefs. Coral bleaching in the reefs of the northwestern and the main Hawaiian islands is an increasing problem ("bleaching" is when the living part of the coral dies and all that is left is the calcite structure that was their home, which then turns white). Of the roughly 150 species of corals in that make up Hawaiian reefs, about 25% are endemic. The reefs formed by lobe corals and other "stony" species are home to over 9,000 species of invertebrates and more than 7,000 of these are endemic! For many lāhui, these reefs are a major part of our natural and cultural heritages. Losing corals, reefs, and the organisms in them would mean losing cultural relationships forged by our ancestors over many generations. Helping to preserve coral reefs in all their diversity will allow cultural practices to survive for generations to come.
He kani ka mua, he kūpaʻa i kai koʻo! - The first one is tough, stands strong in rough seas!
The ʻākohekohe (Palmeria dolei) is a forest bird endemic to Maui and Molokai, but today living only on Maui in the koa-ʻōhiʻa forests of Waikamoi. The English nickname "crested honeycreeper" comes from the tuft of curved feathers just above the beak of the bird. It gives these manu (birds) a mean profile and is the reason we chose the ʻōlelo "Poʻomahiole" which means crest of a bird, but more literally translates to "head like a mahiole" or "helmet head". Mahiole are helmets made of woven ʻieʻie (Freycinetia arborea), often covered with bird feathers, worn by chiefs during ceremony and battle. Not only does the ʻākohekohe have a fabulous crest, but it is also the largest of the "honeycreepers", a radiation of nectivores (nectar-eating birds) unique to our islands. The favorite nectar of the ʻākohekohe is that of the lehua, thus they are found at high elevations (3,000 -7,000 ft.) where there is an abundance of ʻōhiʻa trees and sweet wai lehua (lehua nectar) to sip. During the time of Kū these manu are breeding and their chicks are fledging (developing wings and preparing to fly). Waikamoi preserve is part of the East Maui Watershed, a vast area of forested land that provides Maui residents with 60 billion gallons of clean water each year. It is also home to 63 species of rare plants and 13 species of birds, 7 of which are endangered, including our friend the ʻākohekohe, a.k.a. "helmet head'.
This medium-sized endemic evergreen was known to Hawaiians as āulu, kāulu, and ʻēlaʻa (Latin name: Planchonella sandwicensis). It lives in mesic to dry forests (600-4000 ft) throughout the islands. The red-brown undersides of their leaves make them easy to spot amongst other trees. The dense and close-grained wood of the ʻālaʻa is yellow with black streaks and was used in making ihe (spears), ʻōʻō (digging sticks), pale (canoe gunwales), and posts for houses. The leaves and bark were used medicinally and the sap for catching birds. Today, significant numbers of these trees can be found in the mesic forests of Waiʻanae (Oʻahu) and the dryforests of Auwahi (Maui), and Puʻuwaʻawaʻa (Hawaiʻi). An ʻōʻō made of ʻālaʻa wood was also called ʻālaʻa, as was the action of prodding or digging with an ʻōʻō, but the figurative meaning is to dig into the mind, or to be dislodged by the wind. This design is patterned from "leaf skeletons" - the intricate network of veins that is seen during leaf decomposition. These lace-like bodies are maps of systems that once transported water and nutrients. This intimate design perspective reminds us that sometimes the smallest details that are the most beautiful. E ʻālaʻa ana i ka manaʻo - Digging deep into the mind/meaning.
Visionary chief Kauikeaouli gave to his people vested rights in the land of Hawaiʻi, codified in the 1840 constitution, the 1846 Principles of the Land Commission, and carried through in the Kuleana Act of 1850. Where and when applicable, the phrase "Ua koe ke kuleana o nā kānaka" ensures one's right to access cultural and natural resources on "private" lands. What else might this phrase offer to our understanding of land rights? Some scholars are exploring the notion that the interest of native tenants remains in all lands. If so, then makaʻāinana may still have vested interests in Hawaiʻi's lands. Meanwhile, advocacy for Hawaiians under Hawaiʻi state law is critical to protecting our rights today and defending against the loss of our ancestral lands. This incredibly important kuleana has been the work of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC) since 1974. Leilani Kapuni coined the term ʻāpuka ʻāina (to swindle or cheat someone out of their land) for adverse possession in 1986, when a party used it to gain title to her family's kuleana lands in Kaluaʻaha, Molokaʻi (those parcel shapes inspired this design). While the Kapuni ʻohana ultimately lost those family parcels, their efforts resulted in a very important outcome: to quiet the title to a parcel of land one must take certain steps to identify and contact anyone with an interest in that land; a tiny notice buried deep in the classifieds falls woefully short of this due process requirement. Thanks to NHLC and the Kapuni ʻohana, Hawaiians must receive proper notice of any attempt to extinguish interest they may have in ancestral lands.
The name ʻāweoweo refers to a variety of species, two of which we present here. The first is Chenopodium oahuense, a beautiful plant with soft leaves shaped like goose feet, stems and a trunk that sometimes turn bright red, and long panicles of tiny flowers that become small brown seeds called mokiweo. The ʻōlelo we chose comes from the story of the famed rat shooter, Pīkoiakaʻalalā. It is part of a chant he performs that talks about rats being at the fruits, leaves, and trunk of the ʻāweoweo that is reddened by the sun - ʻĀweoweo ʻula i ka lā. The leaves were eaten (wrapped in lāʻī and cooked) and used medicinally for minor wounds. This species is found in dryland habitats from sea to sub-alpine and varies in size from a shrub to a small tree. The wood from well-developed trees was used to make shark-catching hooks. This plant occurs naturally throughout the northwest and main Hawaiian islands. On Kahoʻolawe it is planted along with other species as part of ongoing restoration efforts on the island. The second species shown here is the handsome red fish know by the Latin name Priacanthus meeki. Also known as Hawaiian bigeye, this tasty little buggah does have big eyes, but also has few bones and lots of meat, making it a favorite among many. The young of this fish are called ʻalalauā and when seen in great quantities meant an aliʻi (chief, chiefess, or royal) would soon pass away (see ʻŌlelo Noʻeau 1382 - Ka iʻa ʻula weli i ke kai). These fish are found throughout the Hawaiian chain.
He pili wehena ʻole - An inseparable association, or close relationship. Taken from the pages of the Hawaiian Dictionary by Pukui and Elbert, this ʻōlelo most aptly describes the nature of the connection between the ʻaiea tree (Nothocestrum sp.) and the Hawaiian hawk moth (a.k.a. Blackburn sphinx moth or Manduca blackburni). This beautiful endemic moth is Hawaiʻi's largest native insect (with wing spans up to 5 inches) and was the first Hawaiian insect listed as endangered. Under its patterned gray and black wings is a bodice with five bright orange spots running down either side. It loves the native ʻaiea tree and spends its caterpillar phase there feeding on leaves. The extremely rare N. latifolium and N. longifolium are the two (of 4) species of Nothocestrum that inspired the artwork here. Hawaiians used the light colored ʻaiea wood for thatching sticks and canoe trimmings, as well as for making fire. Its other name, hālena, may be a reference to the treesʻ wood, or its pretty light yellow/green flowers (which were used medicinally along with its leaves). Unfortunately, the place ʻaiea and the hawk moth call home is an extremely endangered habitat: the dryforests of Hawaiʻi, only 4% of which remain today. At Auwahi, Maui, Biologist Art Medeiros and his team of volunteers have successfully outplanted thousands of trees and shrubs of several native species, including ʻaiea, in one of the largest dryforest restoration efforts in Hawaiʻi to date. Thanks to their work, this special and inseparable association of native moth and tree just might survive into the future.
The ʻalalā, or Hawaiian crow (Corvus hawaiiensis), is an endemic and endangered bird that now exists only in captivity. These stately corvids used to frequent the ʻōhiʻa and koa forests between 1,000 and 8,200 feet on Hawaiʻi Island. They are fairly omnivorous and tend to stick to one mate. Flying is one way they get around, but they also like to jump from branch to branch. The Keauhou and Maui Bird Conservation Centers had a successful last breeding season and 19 healthy chicks joined the world, bringing the total population of ʻalalā to 95 birds. Despite the increasing success of captive breeding, re-introduction into the wild is tough when their natural habitats have been greatly reduced and degraded. Feral cats and native hawks are only too happy to eat them for breakfast, as well. Described as "raucous, gregarious, and vocal" these outgoing birds have a large range of calls. It is said that during one of Captain Cook's visits to Hawaiʻi, he encountered a tame pair of crows at Kaʻawaloa village and was warned not to disturb them. He wanted to buy them as specimens, but apparently their keeper declined to sell. Hawaiians used their lustrous plumage to make kāhili (feather standards), inspiring the words on this shirt: Hiehie maoli ka hulu polohiwa - The feathers of glistening black are truly regal.
Famous for being sweet and ʻono, ʻalamihi crabs were caught back in the day by some Hawaiians through a method called kono ʻelepī. This involved tying an ʻopihi to a cord and dangling it between rocks and in cracks. When the crab snatched the bait, the cord was yanked upward and the crab caught. We can only imagine the patience and tenacity it took to get enough crabs for a meal by this method. Although this crab was sometimes used metaphorically to refer to someone who was a noisemaker or blabbermouth, its deliciousness cannot be contested (especially when eaten raw with poi). One of the meanings of the word hua refers specifically to the meat inside these tasty little crustaceans. Metopograpsus messor, as scientists call them, are found along rocky shorelines, in muddy reef flats, near river mouths, and in calm bays and harbors all over the warm water regions of the world.
Ma ke kono ʻelepī e loaʻa ai ka hua momona - Kono ʻelepī is how to get the sweet flesh.
Ferns are the green gilding of Hawaiian romance and story and they are everywhere. Woven into lei, made into skirts of magical power, laid down as a blanket for a lover, embodied by gods and goddesses, the list goes on. When we think of epic tales of aloha, the mind quickly alights on the amorous Kamapuaʻa, the insatiable kolohe (rascal, rogue) who is known to take on the form of a fern. Palapalai a Kamapuaʻa (Amauropelta globulifera) is the frond featured on this garment, along with the lau ʻamaʻu, a watermark design for kapa that represents the ʻamaʻu fern (a Hawaiian endemic genus of fern called Sadleria ). The area where ʻamaʻu ferns grow in abundance is called ʻamaʻu or wao ʻamaʻu. Kamapuaʻa must have run away from Pele to one of these upland regions and assumed his ʻamaʻu fern form - one of his many kinolau (multiple bodies).
Hānau ka ʻaʻawa noho i kai, kiaʻi ʻia e ka ʻawa noho i uka - Born was the ʻaʻawa (Bodianus albotaeniatus) living in the sea, guarded by the ʻawa (Piper methysticum) living on land. This line is taken from the famous creation chant known as the Kumulipo. The ʻaʻawa, a.k.a. "Hawaiian hogfish", is a handsomely striped and beautifully colored endemic reef fish. It is a predatory wrasse sporting a fierce set of choppers. Tasty like its cousins the hīnālea, ʻaʻawa was caught by both net and pole casting back in the day. ʻAwa is the Hawaiian name for both a plant and the relaxing drink made from its roots. The favorite drink of Kanaloa, Kāne (for whom ʻawa is a kinolau, or physical form) opened many springs during their travels together so that his companionʻs thirst for ʻawa could be quenched. Hawaiians of old chewed or pounded their ʻawa before mixing it with water and straining the fibers out. This drink relieves tension in the body and eases the mind. Like we have a few beers with friends to relax today, Hawaiians enjoyed ʻawa in the company of others as a way to unwind (and to sleep restfully). Instead of Doritos and dip from a plastic tub, maiʻa (banana), iʻa maka (raw fish), moa (chicken) and other freshly prepared foods were their pūpū (light food taken with ʻawa). Just as many people are leaving rice for poi these days, a renewed interest in ʻawa has inspired several to put down the bottle and take up the ʻapu (a coconut shell cup used to drink ʻawa) - a much healthier alternative. In traditional times, ʻawa was also used medicinally. If one had offended their ʻaumakua, ʻawa hiwa and a puaʻa hiwa (black pig) were offered. Hawaiian ʻawa cultivars are many, each with their own name and unique appearance. It is rumored that long-living ʻawa plants were sometimes named by the families who cared for them and harvested their roots for several generations.
E mama a wali, e inu, e hikikiʻi - Chew (the ʻawa) till it is finely mashed, drink it, relax.
Aeʻo, kūkuluaeʻo, or kulukuluaeʻo (Himantopus
knudseni), a.k.a. the Hawaiian stilt. In the Kumulipo, it is the
offspring of the Kioea and emerges in the wā ʻakolu along with other migratory, wetland, and marine manu. These elegant birds are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands (not found on Lānaʻi and Kahoʻolawe) and are known to fly between them. They hang out in shallow wetland habitats and munch on aquatic invertebrates, small fish, baby crabs, roots, and seeds. Less than 30% of Hawaiʻi's original wetland areas are left today - one of the main reasons this species is endangered (approximately 1,100-1,800 birds are left in Hawaiʻi nei). Mongooses, feral dogs, and cats prey upon this species, making survival even tougher. Significant numbers of these birds still frequent places like Hanalei (Kauaʻi), Pouhala (Puʻuloa, Oʻahu), Keālia (Maui), and ʻŌhiʻapilo (Molokai). Until 1939, people could still take these birds for food. A 1925 issue of the Nūpepa Kūʻokoʻa listed the legal take as 25 birds a day. Imagine how abundant these birds were back then! According to scholar David Malo, they had sweet flesh and were easily caught by pelting them with stones (they had mad skills back then). The most striking feature of this gorgeous bird is certainly its long, slender, bright pink legs. Our ancestors used the same terms as names for the stilts they built from the wood of the ʻohe tree (Reynoldsia sandwicensis). Kuʻu hoa kini kohu a loloa o ka wāwae - My fine-looking, long-legged friend.
Ka iʻa lei hala hiʻi i ka poli - The fish that is treasured like a lei of hala worn on the breast. This beautiful reference to the aku fish comes from the story of Kamiki, a long running series in Ka Hoku o Hawaii penned by John Wise, J. Kihe, and other fabulous writers of the time. In one part of the story, Kamiki goes aku fishing (hī aku) at the famous aku grounds in Kona. A special pā (mother of pearl hook) named Kaiakeakua, that was handed down 591 generations from Ololo to Pilikaʻaiea, is given to Kamiki to use and he quickly fill his boat with hundreds of fish. Kamakau talks about hī aku as an aristocratic and proud sport where fishermen donned lei made of hala keys, ʻilima, and lehua, as well as a variety of very fine malo. Who would have known it was also a Hawaiian fashion event?! Commonly called bonito or skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), aku is a large, highly migratory fish found in the warmer waters of the planetʻs oceans. It is enjoyed by people all over the world and, like several marine species, has been historically overfished. Yearly global catches rose from 1950 onward, peaking in 1991 when, according to one statistic, 1,674, 970 tons of fish were caught. International organizations aimed at keeping shared migratory fish populations healthy claim that this species has stabilized and is no longer being overfished. However, with an increasing population and demand, the long- term survival of aku and other species of pelagic fish cannot be guaranteed.
Pukui & Elbert: "aloha ʻāina n.v. Love of the land or of oneʻs country, patriotism; the name of a Hawaiian-language newspaper published 1893-1920; aloha ʻāina is a very old concept, to judge from the many sayings (perhaps thousands) illustrating deep love of the land..." Aloha ʻāina has always been with us, though our expressions of it have evolved over time. From the pre-contact era when the lifestyle of our ancestors embodied this concept, to the time when this phrase became a rally cry against the overthrow and illegal occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom (that persists today!), to the many 20th century struggles fought by our mākua to protect various ʻāina (Kahoʻolawe, Mākua, Sand Island, the list goes on). In these struggles, kanaka risked and even lost their lives in the spirit of aloha ʻāina; to protect not just the land, but all that which nourishes our bodies, minds and spirits. Times may change, but aloha ʻāina is a part of us that will never go away. We remain kūpaʻa in our love for our place, which is challenged all the time by things that are not in the interest of the land or the people. More than a century of occupation may have produced a lot of confusion, but it can never break our aloha ʻāina. So no matter how different our political persuasions, paths of learning, or chosen ʻoihana may be, we must never forget that aloha ʻāina is our common bond. *We have chosen to not use diacritical marks on Ke Aloha Aina to keep in the style of the Hawaiian language newspaper by this name.
*Words and phrases on the wrapping paper*
Translations in alphabetical order
Aloha Kalikimaka - A phrase similar to Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas), found in early Hawaiian language newspapers
ʻai a māʻona - eat till full
ʻai kole - satisfying conversation, to converse thus
hikikiʻi - to lean back, kick back, relax
hoʻohialaʻai - to cause delight
hoʻokāhiko - to deck, trim, dress in finery
hoʻokani pila - to play pila (stringed instruments), to jam
inu a kena - drink till quenched
kahiau - to give lavishly
kalikimaka - Christmas
kūkahekahe - pleasant conversation, jesting, laughing, and telling anecdotes
kukui ʻōlino - bright and dazzling lights
lāʻau ʻaʻala - Fragrant tree
lokomaikaʻi - generosity, good will, kindness
luakaha - to while away the time enjoyably
luana pū - to visit, meet/hang out with, socialize
makamaka - close friend with whom one gives and receives freely
manawaleʻa - a generous heart, charity
mehana ka hale i ke aloha - the house is warmed by love
(filled with the love of family and friends)
mele - song, singing, music
nanea - relaxed, at ease, interesting, enjoyable
ohaoha - delightful, friendly
ʻohana - family
pāʻina - to have a meal together, party
pilialoha - close friends and relatives
walaʻau - to chat, talk story