By Michi H. Wong.
I aloha aʻe au i ka ʻĀhiu o Kahana, I greet the wild wind of Kahana.
Thunder, lightning and torrential downpour marked the day Hōkūle‘a arrived in Kahana Bay, Friday, October 11, 2013. The rain was a befitting welcome.
‘Ahupua‘a o Kahana is a place rich in natural resources. Rain, from the clouds captured by the mountains, flows down into fertile valleys once filled with lo‘i, where farmers cultivated kalo in pondfields irrigated by the ‘auwai.
The waters from the sea also provided abundance. Kapa‘ele‘ele ko‘a, a fishing shrine that stands on the Punalu‘u side of the bay, is a sacred place where offerings are given to ensure the return of schools of akule. Huilua is the fishpond that sits near the mouth of Kahana Stream, where the mix of fresh and salt water creates ideal conditions for raising ‘ama‘ama.
‘Ahupua‘a o Kahana, known to be waiwai, or having wealth, plenitude, and prosperity. It is a place representative of Hawaiian genius in agriculture and aquaculture engineering, and of the ancestors’ wisdom in good stewardship, ensuring community security, and creating a place of sustainability, mauka to makai.
Kahana is remarkable for the present day families who fight, as their parents and grandparents did, to continue to practice their traditional ways of life, culture, language and self-sustainability in the valley.
The community greeted the Hōkūle‘a crew, cared for us by providing shelter and wonderful meals made from the bounty of their land and sea. All of what we learned, all that was given and shared, was done so with the warmest of aloha.
Sunny and Aunty Mae were generous with their time and knowledge, teaching us about the ‘ahupua‘a. They invited us to the Kahana “Store,” now a museum, located in the heart of the community, brimming with the spirit of the people and the specialness of this place. There we caught a glimpse of the genealogy of Kahana, the sociopolitical history, and saw artifacts of tools, weapons, musical instruments, implements, toys and art.
Anagin shared the nearby garden filled with bananas, taro, ulu, sweet potatoes, guava, mailelauli‘i, ginger, māmaki, wauke, and varieties of plants from throughout Polynesia and Asia, and much more. As importantly, the values cultivated here included the promise that everyone would be cared for and no one would go hungry in Kahana.
The sun shone intensely on Sunday, our last day there. Absent were the sometimes wild tempests and untamed wind called ʻĀhiu. The seas were calm and clear, the bay like glass, gentle waves lapping the fine sand. The families of Kahana gathered on shore to pule and wish Hōkūle‘a a safe journey. Nainoa spoke for us all, with mahalo and aloha, no good-bye, but until we meet again.
Then the kona winds shifted, and the trades blew. Thunder rolled in, Uncle Maka sounded the pū, heralding Hōkūle‘a’s departure. As we left Kahana Bay, it began to rain again.