Over the next few days we’ll hear different voices speaking to the meaning of aloha ‘āina. We begin at the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies on the UH Mānoa campus, sitting in the office of Professor Jon Osorio as the birds outside his window call to each other. “Aloha ‘āina is a relationship not just with the land but really with nature itself and in particular that part of the land and sea and streams and water that actually sustains life. ‘Āi is the word that means to eat and when we say ‘āina we’re talking basically about what it is that feeds not just humans but basically everything, and everything is directly dependent and interdependent with the ‘āina.”
The epic Hawaiian creation chant, the Kumulipo, tells that ‘āina and kanaka maoli were born of the same ancestors; ‘āina was born first, plants and animals upon which humans depend were born after and humans were born last. “The relationship to this land is deeply connected, it is familial, and it incurs powerful kinds of obligations and responsibilities—kuleana we call them—and also a sense of real dependence in the way that children depend on parents and grandparents.” Tomorrow we welcome the mana‘o of Auntie Puanani Burgess of Wai‘anae.