We Are ʻĀina

The words and values of our ancestors echo within us every day. A gesture reminiscent of the way your grandpa moved his hands. The crinkle of your eyes when you smile, just like you see in pictures of your kūpuna. The way we stand up for our ʻāina and our lāhui and our ea. We hear and feel nā hanauna o mua in the aloha ʻāina of today. And here in this speech, we see traces of the great aloha ʻāina Iosepa Nāwahī in Kahoʻokahi Kanuha.

Nāwahī came of age during a time when the new technology of literacy was something that they had already grown up with and with which they were intimately familiar. He used the introduced technology of literacy in a way rooted in Hawaiian thought and culture and for Hawaiian purposes. And the aloha ʻāina of today, like Kahoʻokahi, are no different. They use the tools and platforms at hand to get out their message in a way that is consistent with our manaʻo and our nohona.

Kahoʻokahi Kanuha is a good example of our idea that ʻaʻole pau ka ʻike i ka hālau hoʻokahi, as he literally gained his ʻike from many different schools: Pūnana Leo, Kula Kaiapuni, Kamehameha, UH-Mānoa, and UH-Hilo, not to mention the many kumu and mentors in our communities who took him under their wings. And just like those who came before him, Kahoʻokahi has become a kumu himself, pushing for the revitalization and renormalization of our ʻōlelo as a kumu at Pūnana Leo and now at Ke Kula ʻo ʻEhunuikaimalino.

During his keynote at the inaugural Aloha ʻĀina Leaders Award, Kahoʻokahi told the graduating high school seniors who had won the award that when it comes to kuleana, the choices are: you can ʻauamo or let it fall. As a kumu, he instills the values passed on to him in our keiki, helping teach them what it means to ʻauamo. As a kiaʻi, he is an example of how the depths of our aloha demand that we stand and fight for our lāhui in any way that we can, on the mauna, in the legislature, in the courtroom, in the classroom. The emerging aloha ‘āina leaders took that message to heart.

For today’s Meʻe Monday, in the lead-up to the Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea celebrations this weekend, take a listen to Kahoʻokahi, who like Nāwahī, knows intimately our relationship to ʻāina, the fact that we are indeed ʻāina. Listen when he says, “A ʻo kēia ko kākou wā e hoʻokūʻokoʻa i mau loa ke ea o ka ʻāina. A no ka poʻe e aʻake ana e ʻimi ana i ke ola pono, i ka hoʻihoʻi ʻia o ke ea o ka ʻāina o ka lāhui, ʻo kēia ka wā. Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono. ʻAʻole na kekahi e hāʻawi mai, ʻaʻole na kekahi e hoʻihoʻi mai, na kākou e lawe aku,” and hear the echoes of all those who came before and stood up for our land, our culture, our language, and our ea.

“ʻO wai lā kou makuahine? ʻO ka ʻāina nō! ʻO wai lā kou kupuna wahine? ʻO ka ʻāina nō!”

Joseph Iosepa Kahoʻoluhi Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu, Ke Aloha Aina, 1895