Dear Honua (Earth)
Dear Honua (Earth),
Pehea ‘oe? How are you? After interviewing my father this morning for some inspiration, I’m ready to sit down and commit to some words. I’m going to kick it off with a disclosure. My words will fall short. For all that you provide and do, my actions here on Earth will be unmatched by all that you give. What I will share is that you have impacted the work I do and the way in which I hope to imperfectly cultivate aloha ʻāina onto our next generation.
One of my college professors, Peter Ward, author of the Rare Earth, argued in his book that the Earth is rare. And indeed, traversing across your landscape high and deep, it’s easy to agree that you are a rare and extraordinary planet.
It’s hard to summate every single way that you have touched and changed my perspective. From diving the Great Barrier Reef, being lulled to sleep on the surface of the ocean to studying the stream life in Pelekunu and admiring the stars from the summit of Mauna Loa, you have raised me, you are one of my many mothers.
There are reasons why I’ve been particularly drawn to you, your elements, your processes, your systems developed far beyond my existence in another eon. You have survived the worst and you have witnessed the best. You cloak yourself under a silent disguise, working tirelessly to provide for all living things who reside with you. From the depths of my naʻau, mahalo.
As I reflect on Lā Honua (Earth Day), my interests in my heritages and the ʻāina, it seems to point back to the stories that my father and uncles would share about their grandfather, Paul Mahaulu (photo below).
Born in 1890, my great grandfather was raised just a few blocks from Queen Liliʻuokalani Church in Haleʻiwa. Eventually, he made his way to town and built his life in Pālolo. Grandpa lived on Pūkele (literally means “muddy”) street and my father grew up on Hardesty street.
The two households were separated by only two blocks. My father spent a lot of time with his grandfather and became his punahele (favorite) because they shared a love of raw fish and poi.
My great grandfather spent much of his working life outdoors. As a land surveyor, my father shares that grandpa knew all the ridges and the Island’s landscapes. Later in life, grandpa became one of four or five fish and game wardens on Oʻahu. My father remembers spending summers patrolling with grandpa, since at the time, none of his brothers were interested. Back then, fish and game wardens supervised activities from mauka (at the mountains) to makai (at the sea) so it was quite a big kuleana (responsibility) as it still is today.
In closing, here’s one of my favorite anecdotes from the recorded interview where my father describes gathering limu (plants living under water, both fresh and salt) with his grandfather. Enjoy!
Sit down as a family and document a story about your connections to Honua. And if you would like to, feel free to share your story with us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pukui, Mary Kawena & Samuel H. Elbert. Hawaiian Dictionary. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi, 1986.
Pukui, Mary Kawena, Samuel H. Elbert & Esther T. Mookini. Place Names of Hawaiʻi. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, 1976.
Marion Ano & Allan Ano. “Interview with Dad Part 1”. April 16, 2020. MP4 File.