Davianna Pōmaika‘i McGregor is a professor at UH Mānoa and a long-time member of the Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana, the group that in the 1970s successfully fought to stop the US military’s bombing of the island. Aloha ‘āina, she notes, is not a simple term; it conveys varying things depending on time and context.
“Aloha ‘āina has these different layers of meaning: It is the practice of caring for the land and the resources of the land. It is the practice of honoring the spiritual life force of those natural resources and honoring them through worship or through gifting, but also through a demeanor and manner that is respectful of those resources. And then at certain key political points it has meant that those who are aloha ‘āina are people who are nationalists and have a strong sense of patriotism for Hawai‘i and the land of Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i Pae ‘Āina.”
For McGregor herself the term aloha ‘āina evokes her spiritual beliefs and practices. “I think of makahiki and honoring Lono yearly; thirty years now we’ve had our makahiki on Kaho‘olawe. I think of following guidelines and being very careful if I do ever go in to the forest or the ocean and harvest resources, being very conscious to be very careful in doing that. But mostly I think of my religious beliefs and practices to Lono, to Kanaloa, to Haumea and Papa, Kāne and honoring Pele, of course.”