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Na Waiwai (Hawaiian Values)

Kauai kalo

Hawaiian lifestyle & model of sustainability that cares for the entire community

Native Hawaiians created land divisions called ahupua’a to expertly manage the island resources in order to provide for their island communities.

The ahupua’a consisted of a slice of land, shaped like a piece of pie, that starts narrow at the top of the mountains, extending outward down to the sea, often following the boundary of a stream. Ka wai (the water) is the foundation of all natural resources, so caring for the water was, and is, essential to life. The ahupua’a was divided into an upland and a lowland. The boundary markers were traditionally heaps of stones or other natural landmarks.

lei making kauai

The ahupua’a created a lifestyle where Hawaiian families depended on one another and shared the fruits of their labor. In early Hawai’i, people living in one ahupua’a would ask permission from another ahupua’a before taking their resources. The system of checks and balances, coupled with a deep spiritual relationship with the land itself, ensured that resources were managed appropriately, efficiently, and for the good of all.

In the past, the ahupua’a lifestyle worked because everyone had a clear understanding of their kuleana (or one’s responsibilities). Each family member understood and contributed their kuleana, they also expected the same from others. This system of obligated sharing was understood by everyone, and thus everyone was well cared for at all times.

Native Hawaiian food

Hawaiians of both the past and the present share a relationship with the land that is focused on stewardship. ‘Ohana, or families, feel a deep connection to the ahupua’a in which they were born and raised in – it is their ‘aina, their homeland. “Ai” means “to eat”, and thus ‘aina, the word for land, also means “that which feeds”. It is the ‘aina that nourishes and feeds the ‘ohana. It is the responsibility of the ‘ohana to take care of the ‘aina.

As the Native Hawaiians used their resources within their ahupua’a, they practiced Na Waiwai, or treasured values, and understood the deeper meaning of the words aloha (respect), laulima (cooperation of many hands) and malama (stewardship) which resulted in everyone living pono, or doing right by one another.

NTGB Kauai

Na Waiwai (Hawaiian Values)

AHONUI – Patience, expressed with tenderness. It is enduring patience that is demonstrated even in times of great stress.
AKAHAI – Unassuming, unpretentious, lack of arrogance, pleasant, polite, gentle and modest.
ALOHA – Hello, Farewell, greeting, love. A way of life, an attitude, a spirit, expressing one’s happiness and joy of life.
HA’AHA’A – Humility, to be humble, the concept of humility, a core value of the Hawaiian people. To be ha’aha’a is highly praised and respected.
HO’OMA’EMA’E – Living with respect and honoring one’s person and body inspires others by example. Pure, clean and to cleanse.
KOKUA – To help, aid, assist. There are times when one needs kokua. Providing help for those in need strengthens relationships; if one receives kokua they are more likely to give kokua.
KULEANA – Right, privilege, concern, responsibility. Kuleana encompasses that for which one has ultimate responsibility.
LAULIMA – Cooperation, literally: many hands. Laulima is an essential part of island life in that it develops, strengthens, and supports community. Working together ensures the success of the group.
LOKAHI – Unity, harmony. Lokahi brings a balance to all facets of relationships and daily living.
MAIKA’I – Good, wellness. Maika’i should be practiced in praising individuals for a job well done. This will boost morale and create a healthy work environment.
‘IKE – Knowledge, awareness and understanding. By fulfilling one’s responsibilities and providing the highest level of service, one demonstrates ‘ike.
MALAMA – To care for, protect, nurture. To malama means to focus on the needs and well-being of both the individual and the whole. Malama ‘aina, care for the land, Malama kai, care for the sea, are basic Hawaiian values that are being introduced to the Western world.
‘OHANA – Family. ‘Ohana is a common foundation or structure of humanity. In the Hawaiian culture, one turns to ‘ohana for unconditional encouragement, support and understanding.
‘OLU’OLU – Agreeable. One who expresses oneself with pleasantness, graciousness, and kindness is recognized as olu’olu.
PA’AHANA – Industrious, busy, hard-working. To be pa’ahana is always encouraged in any aspect of life. Being pa’ahana will also create a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in the long term.
PONO – Goodness, correct, proper, righteous. Pono is a way of life. To be pono is to consider all persons, relationships and present situations when making decisions.

An Authentic Hawaiian “Land and Sea” Exploration

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