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‘Āina Ulu ‘Aha participants learn about and working on the vast pastures of Ulu Mau Puanui, which is situated on Kamehameha Schools’ ‘āina in North Kohala.

Community collaborators engage via 'Āina Ulu 'Aha

April 25, 2018

Contributed by Kyle Galdeira

More than 40 program staff and educators representing 15 community partners teamed up with Kamehameha Schools’ ‘Āina Ulu program administrators recently to share mana‘o and engage in Native Hawaiian cultural practices on the historically significant land in Kohala on Hawai‘i island, where Kamehameha I was born.

During the ‘aha (gathering), participants held collaborative brainstorming sessions and meetings about a variety of issues, from the teaching of Native Hawaiian cultural principles to the impacts of climate change, in Kohala – culturally significant ‘āina where Kamehameha I would return to for leisure time during his reign. One of the four Kamehameha statues (three in Hawai‘i, one in Washington D.C.) is located in the region in the small town of Kapa‘au.

Participants in the ‘Āina Ulu ‘Aha spent the labor-intensive second day of the three-day session learning about and working on the vast pastures of Ulu Mau Puanui, which is situated on Kamehameha Schools’ ‘āina in North Kohala.

The site, within the ahupua‘a of Puanui, continues the practices employed by Native Hawaiians via traditional agricultural field systems and is managed by the site’s executive director and ‘Āina Ulu collaborator Kehaulani Marshall. Dry field systems like these are supported by rainfall with long-term visions tied to soil, temperature patterns and water conservation, and were used by Native Hawaiians as a sustainable farming organization essential for operating a self-supporting community.

“It’s a treat to have like-minded people join me here on the ‘āina, and it’s great to learn about ways that they mālama their ‘āina,” Marshall said. “I had the opportunity to host ‘Āina Ulu collaborators, and together, we cleared loads of invasive grasses and weeds away from our sugar cane, which is an important part of our dryland field farm system. This effort will help protect the ‘uala, (sweet potato).” which also grows in the farm.

Within KS’ Community Education & Resources Group, ‘Āina Ulu is administered by liaisons overseeing multiple operations across the state. The ‘aha served as a collaborative setting in which program administrators and KS staff addressed successes, challenges and future plans geared towards maintaining and teaching Native Hawaiian practices and systems.

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