Ua mau ke ea o ka 'aina i ka pono

by Melissa Sollner (United States of America)

Making a local connection USA


Hawai’i is one of the most enchanting and one of the top travel destinations on the entire globe, but what people are unaware of is how and why it has reached this status. Hawaiians are known to have a deep spiritual connection to this earth and as a result, I believe that is why Hawai'i is so beautiful because it’s people genuinely care about the land and strive to maintain its well-being. When you grasp the land, you learn its culture and when you understand the culture, you will learn where you stand on the Aina (land) and how to become an enhancement or an outsider. There is a lot of hurt throughout the islands because of the unwanted company who have left permanent scars on the people of Hawai'i. Deeply embedded underneath the surface of Honolulu’s buzzing tourist industry, lies a solid truth which is the way of life that every Hawaiian lives by, ”Ua mau ke ea o ka 'aina i ka pono” (the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness). One of the deepest local connections I have made while living in the islands was working in the Lo'i patch. A Lo’i patch is a freshwater system that has existed for hundreds of years and is used to plant and grow taro. Poi is made from the taro and it is a Hawaiian staple. It is very important and a vital source of the culture, spirituality, and sustenance. A group of friends and I were invited to work in our friend "Iwa’s" family Lo’i patch. If you look at the Lo’i patch from a birds-eye view there are different sections that are separated off in long rectangular shaped barriers. Each rectangular shape is a patch filled with fresh spring water which normally flows from the mountains. What’s beautiful about working in Iwa’s Lo’i, was that all of her family members were there. It was a monthly ritual. I did my best to clear as many weeds off along the walls and barriers and in between the Kalo leaves. While enjoying the laughs and the company of others, I felt satisfaction knowing that what we were doing came from the bottom of our hearts and looking back at the Lo'i, it was cleared and the Kalo could breathe and generate an amazing amount of taro for the Aina and for its people. This local connection isn’t only local, it is eternal and I am overwhelmed with honor, and love for the land and everyone who has the opportunity to take a dip in the cooling mud and clear out the Lo'i. It will forever create an imprint on the heart, mind, and spirit as you learn to love the land and return let it love and take care of you.