E Alu Pū Gathering 2017: Right to Mālama

* This is an excerpt from the 2017 EAP Gathering Report written by E Alu Pū Coordinator Alex Connelly. To view the full report visit:  www.kuahawaii.org/eap-2017-report

(Koʻolau-Kona, Kauaʻi) ~ E Alu Pū s a movement of community projects, families, groups, and organizations involved in stewardship of bio-cultural resources mai uka a i kai (from upland to the ocean).

An intergenerational learning network, the communities of E Alu Pū are connected by grassroots values that drive their efforts throughout our pae‘āina (archipelago) toward a collective vision of ‘āina momona (healthy abundant land/sea and people).

E Alu Pū means “move forward together.” It is a call to action, mimicking the movements of the pualu fish (surgeonfish), a name given by Hiʻilei Kawelo of Paepae o Heʻeia who observes the pualu schools every summer.

Each summer network participants come together for an annual gathering. During their time together these kua‘āina (grassroots) communities support, teach and mentor each other, share lessons learned and work side-by-side. In coming together, they nurture a productive space for growth and strengthened relationships.

In July 2017, members of E Alu Pū gathered on Kauaʻi for the 14th Annual E Alu Pū Gathering. This year’s gathering theme–Right to Mālama–has been a driving dialogue within the E Alu Pū network since its founding members gathered for the first time  Molokaʻi in 2003.

Hosted by Uncle Teddy Kawahinehelelani Blake of Mālama Kōloa, over 140 participants, representing 30 community organizations across Hawaiʻi, gathered for four days of learning, sharing, and discussion at Kumu Camp in Anahola.

A day before the formal opening, over 50 youth and their ʻohana gathered at Waipā Foundation in Haleleʻa, Kauaʻi, where they heard moʻolelo (canonical stories) of leadership and place and prepared poi (staple food made from taro) that nourished bellies and souls for the duration of the gathering.

In addition to giving back to our community hosts through lā hana (work projects), rebuilding the rock wall along the Hapa Trail, E Alu Pū members participating in huakaʻi–literally, journey with intention, or purposeful learning excursions–to important cultural sites and wahi pana (storied, esteemed place) around Kōloa, including Ke Kahua o Kāneiolouma and Māhāʻulepū in Poʻipū, and Nōmilu Loko Iʻa, a 20-acre salt-water lake turned fishpond in the volcanic crater of Nōmilu Cone in Kalāheo. A select crew also took a special trip to Nuʻalolo Kai on the Nā Pali Coast.

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This year’s gathering also honored those who served on the 2015-2017 E Alu Pū Council and members of Island Caucuses (all participants present from each island) to selected new representatives to serve on the 2017-2018 Council (see photo below).

Special Mahalo to Mālama Kōloa, Kumu Camp & Anahola Hawaiian Homes Association, Ka ‘Ohana Keale, Pūlama Nōmilu, Waipā Foundation, Nā Pali Coast ‘Ohana, Hui Mālama o Kāneiolouma, Mālama Māhā‘ulepū, Pā Ola Hawai‘i, Limahuli Garden & Preserve, Hui Maka‘āinanana o Makana, Captin Andy’s, and Roberts Bus Hawai‘i, Mahi LaPierre, Māhealani Botelho, and Uncle Waiola Higa for sharing your time, energy, talents and commitment.

photo by Kim Moa

Restoring Hapa Trail* 

Hapa Trail is a cultural and historical path that once connected the people of Kōloa Town to coastal Poʻipū.  The area once flourished with kō (sugar cane), kalo (taro) and ʻuala (sweet potatoes).

In 1975, land on either side of Hapa Trail contained 18% of all the intact archaeological sites in the State.  In recent decades, 600 sites between Waikomo Stream and west of Hapa Trail have been displaced by a golf course, residential houselots, and townhouse projects. East of Hapa Trail lies the Kōloa Field System which includes kauhale (groups of house structures), ʻauwai (irrigation systems), agricultural sites and burial sites. Some sites remain relatively intact.

To adapt to a dry and rocky leeward environment, Hawaiians created extensive, interconnected systems of irrigated agricultural fields. These systems were sustained by streams that flowed from the upper regions of Kōloa Komoʻoloa.  ʻAuwai provided water for field complexes. They followed curving paths along natural slopes, across bedrock surfaces, often with rock retaining walls.

In 2009, development of the Village at Poʻipū Phase One Subdivision was approved. In an effort to protect the Kōloa Field System, Ted Blake, with support from the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, sued the Hawaiʻi State Planning Commission, Planning Department, Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the Eric A. Knudsen Trust. In early 2017, Judge Kathleen Watanabe ruled that the State, the County of Kauaʻi, and the Eric A. Knudsen Trust violated laws preserving and protecting Hawaiian rights and cultural resources. Through the efforts of Ted Blake and Mālama Kōloa, the restoration of the Hapa Trail continues to this day.

In preparation for lā hana (work) on the Hapa Trail, Uncle Waiola Higa led an ʻuhau humu pōhaku (drystack masonry) workshop to teach background, rules, tips and theories about drystacking and traditional Hawaiian stone masonry practices.

The two-day work project at Hapa Trail was led by practitioners and skilled drystack masons within the network and was meant to be a hands-on learning opportunity to pass on practitioner-based skills to other network members. The diligent work crews of E Alu Pū were able to rebuild over 200 feet of wall.

“I learned the names of the parts of the wall and how we can relate the concept of ʻuhauhumupōhaku to everything we do.”

Restoring Hapa Trail

By Austin Keola Chang

Hawaiians have long had a natural instinct for sustainability, an instinct learned over generations of living on tiny landmasses with clearly finite resources. They knew that in order to survive they must use what they had and never waste.  This was a common practice in every aspect of their lives: fishing, farming, gathering. ʻUhauhumupōhaku, the traditional Hawaiian practice of stone masonry also known as “drystacking” was no different.

Traversing the islands you might spot remnants of aged stone walls hidden in the brush, or encompassing religious sites and loko iʻa (fishponds).  There is much complexity behind the facade and much thought that goes into creating these sturdy yet often unnoticed structures.

Realizing that large stones were limited in number, Hawaiians developed a technique to utilize the strengths of every volcanic rock, coral fragment, or pōhaku (stones) available, no matter the shape or size. By fitting these pōhaku together to have the smallest and least amount of gaps between the rocks, these walls were stronger by design, with very little room for weakness.  Even more impressive, is that these pōhaku, imbued themselves with mana (supernatural or divine power), were never broke or cut to fit a certain gap.  These expert masons knew there was a better place for each pōhaku in the larger whole.

photo by Ken Posney

These techniques of dry-stacking have been used in indigenous architectural structures throughout Hawaiʻi, in kuapā (fishponds wall) and the stone platforms of Heiau (traditional hawaiian places of worship), along trails, supporting nutritional, spiritual, and relational wellbeing. Just like pōhaku within a stone wall, the people of Hawai’i are made up of many different shapes and sizes.  All are vital to the strength and perpetuation of this land. The kūpuna (elders) are like the large boulders or niho (stones set interlocking) that form the foundation of the wall, guiding us to the place where our strengths will best support the whole. Like the small pebbles, so are the keiki (children), filling in the spaces where kūpuna can no longer reach and making it whole and and sturdy for generations to come.

Austin K. Chang graduated from Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi and is studying Mobile Development at Full Sail University Online. He is currently working as the School Health Assistant at Ke Kula ʻo ʻEhunuikaimalino.


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