If you’ve just arrived in Hawai‘i, it won’t take you long to experience one of the most important and well used ʻōlelo noʻeau, or Hawaiian proverbs, Aloha Kekahi i Kekahi. Aloha, one of the most well-known Hawaiian words in the world, has an abundance of different meanings. However, one of its most used translations, besides “Hello,” is love. Kekahi i kekahi, simply means “to each other,” or “one another.” This saying is used to describe the relationship between the ʻāina, or land, and people.
Throughout history, Hawaiians have showed aloha to the ʻāina in many ways. To love the land means to care for it and to nurture it, so that the land will return the favor to us, providing us with clean resources and food. The reason behind this is that Hawaiians believe that we, the people of this earth, as well as everything else on this planet originates from one common source.
Hawaiians don’t look at the ʻāina as something to walk on, but rather as a person, someone to work together with. They build relationships with all forms of life, big and small, scary and beautiful, because they believe we all come from the same place.
Hawaiians believe that it is everyone’s kuleana, or responsibility, to mālama, or take care, of the land. It is believed and taught that if all living things worked together harmoniously, life will move more smoothly and create a better outcome.
In modern times, there are still many ways to aloha the ʻāina and ways for new and longtime residents to make a stronger connection to the Hawaiian culture.
At UH Mānoa, there are many clubs that specialize in reforestation, beach cleanups, hiking trips and Hawaiian culture. These clubs are one of the many ways a person new to the island can get to familiarize themselves with the culture, landscape and the aloha that many of the locals here have toward the land and to each other.
Students new to UH shouldn’t be afraid or intimidated by the diverse cultures that flourish here in Hawaiʻi. A person new to the island may feel a language barrier when it comes to naming the many different places here. However, there are many resources on and off the UH campus that anyone can use to confront these obstacles.
Consider checking out the book “Place Names of Hawaiʻi” by authors Pukui, Elbert and Mookini, available in Hamilton Library. This is a good book for many new residents to use to learn and familiarize themselves with the meaning of names of the different places around the island of O‘ahu, as well as other areas throughout the island chain.
However, the simplest way for a person to make a connection to Hawaiʻi is to experience all that Hawaiʻi has to offer.
On nice sunny days, go to the beach or hike with friends. Swim with the fishes and enjoy the soft sand and warmth of the sun, or enjoy the beautiful sight of the valleys and hills and the smell and weather of mauka, or the uplands.
Always mālama, or take care, of the land by picking up any ʻōpala, or trash, that someone might have left behind. Always try to leave an area in better condition than it was when you arrived.
Most of all, be thankful for being able to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and donʻt be ashamed to fully embrace the cultural values of Hawaiʻi.