Written by KUA’s Lohe Pono fellow, Kinohi Fukumitsu
July 9, 2022
Iwa birds welcome you as you approach the Waimānalo Limu Hui and ʻŌpio Leadership Academy tents. Both are programs of the non-profit organization of Ke Kula Nui o Waimānalo (KKNOW). Everyone is moving around to help set up the event. Whether you have been in the hui for long or it is your first time when you sign up to come help that starts as soon as you arrive. That is lāhui.
As you make ready for the day, you hear a very distinct and direct voice announce, “The last one to the pule circle gets to pule!” It is the voice of ʻIlima Ho-Lastimosa, a board director of Ke Kula Nui o Waimānalo and a major community leader. Her love for her hometown and community of Waimānalo shows in every aspect of her being. Everybody drops what they are doing and runs to the circle. As the last volunteer closes the circle he thinks that he is exempt from the rule. No one is. From keiki to kūpuna we all know the protocol. So he starts our day with a prayer. That is kaiāulu.
Everyone speaks their name, where they are from and what brought them to this moment. As 50 people introduce themselves in the opening circle, they are not declaring it for each of us but rather for themselves. It is their chance to introduce themselves to the ʻāina, kai and kūpuna that be. Asking permission with the intention that our tasks ahead flow smoothly and safely.
Fifteen volunteers head off to work with rocks at Pāhonu, the rest stay to make limu lei. You grab a handful of limu and find a seat next to someone’s energy that suits you. This is a must because what you weave into these lei will be planted for our iʻa and for our future. The spores will spread so make sure they are good ones.
Aside from limu lei there is preparation for our events to come. Activities include the processing of hau and ule hala to prepare the natural materials which we weave with. Everyone brings their own ʻike when it comes to processing material, weaving, limu, and culture. These exchanges and connections are important. Making our short time together meaningful.
The limu lei are fastened on pōhaku and everyone gathers for a group photo. A word is picked to spell and spore at each monthly planting. This monthʻs word is OLA. So fitting for us all to gather around and pule towards. Each member of the hui grabs a pōhaku and walks/swims it out to one of the planting areas.
As they return, once again you hear it repeated, “last one to the pule circle…” Everyone quickly joins hands. Pule commences and we are treated to an ʻono meal prepared by a Waimānalo organization called, Puʻu o Malei. It is a customary practice of KKNOW to feed and share a meal together to bring closure to the events of the day. From egg salad sandwiches to catering a full meal, a meal is always provided. That is ʻohana.
Everyone lends a hand in packing up. Aloha is exchanged and everyone feels the good planting juju for the rest of the day. For some it lingers for the rest of the month/year till the next gathering that is offered. The Waimānalo Limu Hui was built from the ʻiʻini of kūpuna to see limu grow again in Waimānalo Bay. In order to keep the kūpuna of this area safe these workdays still remain private and are not offered to the general public at the moment. The plan to keep workdays small and intimate is KKNOWʻs way of loving and honoring kūpuna, limu, and the wahi pana that are hoped to thrive forever! E ola!
The Waimānalo Limu Hui partnered with KUA to host their biggest limu planting since before the pandemic. This event specifically was held to celebrate the Year of the Limu! Mahalo to Waikalua Fishpond for providing the limu.
Note: Limu planting days throughout the year are still private events as a response to mālama kūpuna and for the health of the community of Waimānalo. Mahalo for your understanding.