When Dr. Noa Kekuewa Lincoln was a boy of eight living in the uplands of Kula, Maui he saved his money for several months and bought a number of rare Hawaiian plants to plant is his backyard. He was a little kid, proud and happy, but three weeks later the axis deer came through and ate every single plant but for one lone koai‘a tree. Lincoln, now an assistant professor in indigenous crops and cropping systems at UH Mānoa, tells the story as he reflects on the meaning of aloha ‘āina.
“There are just so many lessons I feel that stuck with me through that experience. I learned at a very young age just from this really simple act of going in my backyard and planting some trees, and I think it’s that kind of observation and interaction with the land that that can provide these learning experiences for us.”
But aloha ‘āina, says Lincoln, offers not just a relationship and an education—more deeply, it offers a sense of fulfillment and contentment.
“Those emotions associated with aloha ‘āina encompass a whole range of things from that feeling of needing to get out on the land to recharge your batteries and clear your head to actually learning about yourself and the way the world works through interacting with the land.”