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Na Kua`aina

Na Kua`aina: Living Hawaiian Culture

Davianna Pōmaika‘i McGregor
Copyright Date: 2007
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  • Book Info
    Na Kua`aina
    Book Description:

    The word kua‘âina translates literally as "back land" or "back country." Davianna Pômaika‘i McGregor grew up hearing it as a reference to an awkward or unsophisticated person from the country. However, in the context of the Native Hawaiian cultural renaissance of the late twentieth century, kua‘âina came to refer to those who actively lived Hawaiian culture and kept the spirit of the land alive. The mo‘olelo (oral traditions) recounted in this book reveal how kua‘âina have enabled Native Hawaiians to endure as a unique and dignified people after more than a century of American subjugation and control. The stories are set in rural communities or cultural kîpuka—oases from which traditional Native Hawaiian culture can be regenerated and revitalized. By focusing in turn on an island (Moloka‘i), moku (the districts of Hana, Maui, and Puna, Hawai‘i), and an ahupua‘a (Waipi‘io, Hawai‘i), McGregor examines kua‘âina life ways within distinct traditional land use regimes. The ‘òlelo no‘eau (descriptive proverbs and poetical sayings) for which each area is famous are interpreted, offering valuable insights into the place and its overall role in the cultural practices of Native Hawaiians. Discussion of the landscape and its settlement, the deities who dwelt there, and its rulers is followed by a review of the effects of westernization on kua‘âina in the nineteenth century. McGregor then provides an overview of social and economic changes through the end of the twentieth century and of the elements of continuity still evident in the lives of kua‘âina. The final chapter on Kaho‘olawe demonstrates how kua‘âina from the cultural kîpuka under study have been instrumental in restoring the natural and cultural resources of the island.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6370-8
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XII)
  4. ONE Nā Kua‘āina and Cultural Kīpuka
    (pp. 1-48)

    Rain pelted the decks and the howling wind and twenty-foot ocean swells madly rocked our boat as we made our way in dawn’s first light from the port of Lahaina to the island of Kaho‘olawe. We struggled for a foothold, while grasping for trash bags to relieve ourselves of the queasy welling up of fluids deep in our guts. Uncle Harry Mitchell called out to us, “You had enough? And now, are you ready to turn back?” Everyone begged to turn around. Before the captain could steer the boat around to head back most of my students boldly jumped into...

  5. TWO Waipi‘o Mano Wai: Waipi‘o, Source of Water and Life
    (pp. 49-82)

    Waipi‘o mano wai(Waipi‘o, source of water and life) is a popular saying about Waipi‘o because of its ability to sustain the people of Hawai‘i and Maui during an early thirteenth-century drought and enable them to survive. Located on the Hāmākua Coast of the island of Hawai‘i, the remote, lush, and peaceful Hawaiian valley of Waipi‘o is rich in natural resources, of which water is the most significant and abundant. For 650 years, from the time of ‘Umialīloa, around 1450 CE, through to the twenty-first century, Waipi‘o has been renowned as one of the premier wetland taro valleys of the...

  6. THREE Hāna, mai Ko‘olau a Kaupō: Hāna, from Ko‘olau to Kaupō
    (pp. 83-142)

    Hāna, one of the largest districts of Maui, is celebrated in the song printed here as the epigraph as a place of natural beauty and romance. The traditional‘ōlelo noe‘auor sayingHāna, mai Ko‘olau a Kaupō(from Ko‘olau to Kaupō) provides us with the traditional boundaries of Hāna, starting in themokuor district (also calledkalanaor‘okana) of Ko‘olau and extending through the moku of Hāna and Kīpahulu to thekonaor leeward moku of Kaupō.¹ The Hāna district consists of almost one-third of the island of Maui. On Maui, the ahupua‘a are marked from stream to...

  7. FOUR Puna: A Wahi Pana Sacred to Pelehonuamea
    (pp. 143-190)

    The interplay of many dynamic primal natural elements in Puna make it one of the most sacred areas in all of Hawai‘i. The regenerative power inherent in the lands and atmosphere of Puna are also reflected in the role and contributions of the kua‘āina of Puna to the perpetuation of Native Hawaiian culture through the twenty-first century. “Puna, mai ‘Oki‘okiaho a Māwae” (Puna from ‘Oki‘okiaho to Māwae): as this ‘ōlelo no‘eau says, the Puna district spans from Māwae on the northern boundary with Hilo south to ‘Oki‘okiaho on the southern boundary with Ka‘ū.¹ Comprising 311,754 acres, the island of Kaua‘i...

  8. FIVE Moloka‘i Nui a Hina: Great Moloka‘i, Child of Hina
    (pp. 191-248)

    Chants such as these in the epigraph composed by Paku‘i and Kahakuikamoana, which describe the conception and birth of Moloka‘i by the Goddess Hina, are sources of the sayingMoloka‘i Nui a Hina(Great Moloka‘i, child of Hina). They convey the image of Moloka‘i as a child—small and fragile—that needs to be nurtured by the people who live there. Moloka‘i, smaller than Hawai‘i, Maui, O‘ahu, and Kaua‘i, has finite resources that must be cultivated and sustained. The kuaāina of Moloka‘i trace their roots back to antiquity and the traditional responsibility they inherited to look after and care for...

  9. SIX Kaho‘olawe: Rebirth of the Sacred
    (pp. 249-285)

    In the 1970s the island of Kaho‘olawe stirred the ancestral memory of Native Hawaiians and inspired the first cultural renaissance in Hawai‘i since the islands came under American control in 1898. Throughout the twentieth century, the United States colonized Hawai‘i through political, social, economic, and military institutions. World War II transformed the way of life in Hawai‘i and led to the development of new political and economic alliances.¹ In 1959 U.S. colonial policy culminated with statehood for Hawai‘i.

    When Hawai‘i became a state, tourism grew to be the main industry for the islands’ economies. American progress seemed to be overdeveloping...

  10. SEVEN Ha‘ina Ia Mai: Tell the Story
    (pp. 286-304)

    I opened this mo‘olelo with a personal journey in an attempt to land on the island of Kanaloa with Uncle Harry Mitchell. I finally crossed the channel and landed on Kanaloa in November 1984. Through Kanaloa and Mitchell I was introduced to the kua‘āina of our islands and led back to my ancestral soul as akanaka ‘ōiwi.¹ Through Kanaloa I have participated in the annual Makahiki ceremonies to Akua Lono, beginning in 1986, as well as ceremonies in honor of Akua Kanaloa and Akua Kane.

    My involvement with Kanaloa led me to focus my scholarly research on the cultural...

  11. APPENDIX I 1851 Petition from Puna Native Hawaiians to Extend the Deadline to File a Land Claim
    (pp. 305-305)
  12. APPENDIX II Number of Males Who Paid Taxes in Puna in 1858
    (pp. 306-307)
  13. APPENDIX III Moloka‘i, Petition of July 2, 1845
    (pp. 308-318)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 319-352)
    (pp. 353-364)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 365-372)