Ka Papa Loʻi ʻo Kānewai is a piko for Hawaiian Knowledge at the University of HawaiʻI at Mānoa sitting at the bottom of the slopes of Waʻahila where the Ua Tuahine and Kahaukani reside He Mele NoKānewai was written by Nāhulu Maioho, a former Assistant Director of Ka Papa Loʻi ʻo Kānewai. This mele begins to summarizes the history and foundation from which Ka Papa Loʻi ʻo Kānewai was founded upon and continues to personify
Puapuaʻi Kānewai i ke oha kahiko,
As visitors learn through this mele, we begin to divulge the deeper history that this place, Kānewai, has lived through. We usually start the groups in the hale waʻa. The beginning lines talk to the present sight of Kānewai as the historic auwai system that predates the monarchy period of Hawaiʻi. The auwai system referred to by the phrase ke poʻo a ka hiʻu, shows the importance of water that continues to flow through both the loʻi and the people who are involved. In the early 1980s, a handful of Native Hawaiian students enrolled at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa uncovered the remnants of an ancient ‘auwai in bushes alongside Mānoa stream. They discovered that this land, called Kānewai, was highly valued for its kalo productivity even before Kamehameha conquered O‘ahu and remained a royal possession well after the Great Māhele in 1848. Over the years, the property once cultivated by the maka‘ainana, and later by farmers of Chinese and Japanese ancestry, became part of the landscape of the university.
With the Hawaiian renaissance movement taking shape throughout Hawai‘i, the project Ho‘okahe Wai Ho‘oulu ‘Āina (based on the philosophy, “make the water flow, make the land productive,”) was initiated through the student organization Hui Aloha ‘Āina Tuahine.
Uhai and Kolo are the names of the first and the last loʻi that the water flows through at the first makawai and before flowing through the hoʻi. A lesson on the ahupuaʻa system is usually paired with the understanding of the parts of the loʻi as it becomes more evident as the visit to the loʻi progresses.
The emphasis was to create a unique resource for the university and the surrounding community by providing experiential learning opportunities and a peaceful retreat from the urban surroundings. The vision for the revitalization of this site, as outlined by the students, became even more evident once the physical project took shape. With the guidance of kūpuna such as Harry Mitchell, an ‘auwai leading from the Mānoa stream, lo‘i, māla ‘ai, and a hālau were constructed. Ka Papa Loʻi ʻo Kānewai and Hoʻokahe Wai Hoʻoulu ʻĀina has focused on three kahu. Laulima, Malama ʻĀina, and Puʻuhonua. All of these stem from our relationship as Hawaiians or people in appreciation of the Hawaiian culture and its origin stories. One of the origin stories we like to focus on as mahiʻai of kalo is the story of Hāloanakalaukapalili and Hāloa. Kalo is very important to the Hawaiian people because it is our ancestor. We know this from the story of Papahānaumoku and Wākea. Papa is our earthmother and Wākea is our skyfather. They are also the parents of Ho‘ohōkūkalani, a daughter. When Ho‘ohōkūkalani grows older, she has a baby by Wākea, but the baby is born prematurely. She names the baby Hāloanakalaukapalili and buries the baby in the ground. From this burial site grows the first kalo. Kalo becomes the main food that keeps the Hawaiian people healthy. Later, Ho‘ohōkūkalani has another baby by Wākea, a healthy boy, and they name him Hāloa in honor of his elder sibling. Hāloa is the first high chief of Hawai‘i and is the common ancestor of all the Hawaiian people. From this story we learn the kalo and the earth are our ancestors and that they take care of us by providing food to keep us healthy. We also learn that our job as their mo‘opuna is to take care of the land and all the resources needed to care for kalo so that they can continue to nourish us.
Stories of the gods Kāne and Kanaloa, show us the understanding of the generations before and the need for water is important in the growth of Kānewai. The appreciation of Kāne and Kanaloa within an ahupuaa shows the paths of water and shifting of elements as these two gods bring water for the continued growth of the areas they come to. Kane and Kanaloa were swimming in the Kahala area. After their swim they wanted to rinse off and drink water. The two searched for water and headed to the Moʻiliʻili area. They searched and searched and no water could be found. Kanaloa became frustrated and began to tease Kane and his abilities to find fresh water. Kāne kept telling Kanaloa to be patient. Soon Kāne located a spot where he thought there was fresh water. Many believed Kāne had the ability to hear the water moving in the ground. Using his oʻo made of kamani, Kāne struck the ground with his oʻo and a huge spring of cool fresh water sprung up. The two akua were able to rinse the sand off their bodies, drink water and ʻawa. The area where Kāne created the spring is called Kānewai, the area that the sand washed off their bodies is called Kānaloa. This area is also known today as the Sand Quarry or the Stan Sheriff Center. A short hike to the poʻowai to see and further explain the water system and how the water is diverted to the loʻi. A quick look into the water cycle within the ahupuaa is also seen and explained on a tour of Ka Papa Loʻi ʻo Kānewai.
These main forms of water are just a few of the ways that water can influence us as people. Then the work begins as Kānewai comes alive in the combination of intention from different sources. Staff and visitors begin to work gathering leaves for natural fertilizer, and to hehihehi i ka loʻi. Some of the other tasks that may be done when visiting Kānewai is to huki i ke kalo(if kalo is available), learn the parts of kalo, puʻepuʻe and the clearing of the ʻauwai system. If you would like to visit Ka Papa Loʻi ʻo Kānewai more information can be found by clicking Get Involved.
Enjoy this collaboration by Ka Papa Loʻi ʻo Kānewai, Mele Murals, and Kaimuki High School as the idea of Hoʻokahe Wai Hoʻoulu ʻĀina lives on in the youth of the Mānoa area.