Academic journal article Marvels & Tales

Mapping Wonder in the Maui Mo'olelo on the Mo'o'aina: Growing Aloha 'Aina through Indigenous and Settler Affinity Activism

Academic journal article Marvels & Tales

Mapping Wonder in the Maui Mo'olelo on the Mo'o'aina: Growing Aloha 'Aina through Indigenous and Settler Affinity Activism

Article excerpt

Lualualei is the birth center of Oahu, hence the female, Hina's womb or cave. . . . In bitter irony we now sing, describe in dance, in the most beautiful poetic expressions, of wahipana [celebrated places] that no longer exist, that have been totally destroyed by modern man. In another irony Tutu Pele who "destroys" or eats the land, leaves in her wake cultural kipuka, little pockets of old growth forest, untouched by fire, that become the seed bank to re-vegetate the barren lava fields which over time re-new as rich cultural habitats. Is this a lesson for us today? Are we able to leave behind us a place able to re-new itself in a healing environment?

-Eric Enos, director and co-founder of the Cultural Learning Center at Ka'ala, testimony against the proposed Na? na?kuli B Composting and Solid Waste Landfill Facility (Enos, "Appendix D," 144)

At the Pu'u Heleakala? Head Start Preschool in Na? na?kuli, in the moku (district) of Wai'anae, the children learn of the wondrous gifts of Ma? uiakamalo mapped in a mural painted by Joseph Momoa in 1978, a visual portrait of genealogy that becomes etched in their collective consciousness. The mural (Figure 1) alludes to the mo'olelo (stories and histories) of Ma? ui, "he keiki a? iwaiwa" (a marvelous child), whose supernatural abilities brought the ua, gifts showered on Ka? naka 'O? iwi (He Pule Hoolaa Alii, 62-64; Kumulipo, 75-76).1 At the foot of the great hill that is Pu'u Heleakala? , Ma? ui eats poi, reminding us not only of the abundance of kalo (taro) in Lualualei but also of the genealogical line of 'O? iwi as descendants of Papaha? naumoku, the earth mother who is the foundation birthing islands, and Wa? kea, expansive sky father, and the younger siblings of Ha? loanakalaukapalili, the first kalo plant (He Pule Hoolaa Alii, 58; Kumulipo, 68-69).2 Behind him stands Pu'u Heleakala? , whose ridged columns rise like the thighs of Hinaakeahi from whence Ma? ui is born, the birth waters of Ulehawa Stream flowing down the center of the mural to the seas of Ulehawa. In the mo'olelo of Wai'anae, it is at Pu'u Heleakala? that Ma? ui snares the rays of the sun, breaking them to slow his traversal across the sky so that Hina can dry her kapa, fine cloth she beats from the bark of the wauke, or paper mulberry (Kamakau, Tales, 135-36). At the far right of the mural (not shown in Figure 1), Ma? ui paddles a canoe, recalling for us that it was in the seas of Ulehawa that Ma? ui and his brothers raised up the islands with the fishhook named Ma?naiakalani (Kaaia 248-52). The mural and its stories of Ma? ui root the preschool children in the particular wonders of Lualualei and Na?na? kuli as places. These Ma? ui mo'olelo unfold in other murals in schools in Wai'anae, but Momoa's mural is striking in its cartographic depiction of the visual topography of Lualualei, which enables us to see places and people in relation to each other through genealogy and kinship ties.

On April 26, 2010, the Kumu Kahua Theatre performed the mo'olelo of Ma? ui for a fundraiser for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Hawai'i Chapter, a demilitarization organization coordinated by Kyle Kajihiro and Terri Keko'olani. At the end of the performance, Alice Kaholo Greenwood, a descendant of the nineteenth-century intellectual and political leader John Papa 'I?'?i, rose with her cane and spoke to the audience about the present struggle in Lualualei Valley to protect Ma? ui's birth sands, the place where he was born. On this land, a developer, Tropic Land LLC, had begun a process to petition the State of Hawai'i Land Use Commission for a boundary amendment to reclassify 96 acres of land from the Agricultural District to the Urban District for a light industrial park. Tropic Land proposed to develop the land to establish a land condominium, subdividing it into forty-one 2-acre lots that would then be sold off piecemeal (N?an?akuli Community Baseyard, 1). Greenwood invited the audience to take the Huaka'i Ka? …

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