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Na Kua`aina

Davianna Pomaika`i McGregor

Publication Year: 2007

The word kua‘âina translates literally as "back land" or "back country." Davianna Pômaika‘i McGregor grew up hearing it as a reference to an awkward or unsophisticated person from the country. However, in the context of the Native Hawaiian cultural renaissance of the late twentieth century, kua‘âina came to refer to those who actively lived Hawaiian culture and kept the spirit of the land alive. The mo‘olelo (oral traditions) recounted in this book reveal how kua‘âina have enabled Native Hawaiians to endure as a unique and dignified people after more than a century of American subjugation and control. The stories are set in rural communities or cultural kîpuka—oases from which traditional Native Hawaiian culture can be regenerated and revitalized. By focusing in turn on an island (Moloka‘i), moku (the districts of Hana, Maui, and Puna, Hawai‘i), and an ahupua‘a (Waipi‘io, Hawai‘i), McGregor examines kua‘âina life ways within distinct traditional land use regimes. The ‘òlelo no‘eau (descriptive proverbs and poetical sayings) for which each area is famous are interpreted, offering valuable insights into the place and its overall role in the cultural practices of Native Hawaiians. Discussion of the landscape and its settlement, the deities who dwelt there, and its rulers is followed by a review of the effects of westernization on kua‘âina in the nineteenth century. McGregor then provides an overview of social and economic changes through the end of the twentieth century and of the elements of continuity still evident in the lives of kua‘âina. The final chapter on Kaho‘olawe demonstrates how kua‘âina from the cultural kîpuka under study have been instrumental in restoring the natural and cultural resources of the island.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. ix-xii

Nā kua‘āina of Hāna, Moloka‘i, Puna, Waipi‘o, and Kaho‘olawe are at the heart of this book—their lives, knowledge, and spirit of resilience. Our ancestral spirits and deities, ‘aumākua and akua of the ‘āina—from the ocean depths and reefs to streams and lush valleys, volcanic rainforests and sacred mountain peaks, and up into the sky with its many named winds, clouds, and rains—are the soul of this book. My family and loved ones lifted me to connect to ancestors, ancestral lands, and lively times that have passed, by sharing their vivid memories in comfortable homes with fine wine and family dinners:..

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CHAPTER One. Nā Kua‘āina and Cultural Kīpuka

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pp. 1-48

Rain pelted the decks and the howling wind and twenty-foot ocean swells madly rocked our boat as we made our way in dawn’s first light from the port of Lahaina to the island of Kaho‘olawe. We struggled for a foothold, while grasping for trash bags to relieve ourselves of the queasy welling up of fluids deep in our guts. Uncle Harry...

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CHAPTER Two. Waipi‘o Mano Wai: Waipi‘o, Source of Water and Life

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pp. 49-82

WAIPI‘O MANO WAI (Waipi‘o, source of water and life) is a popular saying about Waipi‘o because of its ability to sustain the people of Hawai‘i and Maui during an early thirteenth-century drought and enable them to survive. Located on the...

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CHAPTER Three. Hāna, mai Ko‘olau a Kaupō: Hāna, from Ko‘olau to Kaupō

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pp. 83-142

HĀNA, ONE of the largest districts of Maui, is celebrated in the song printed here as the epigraph as a place of natural beauty and romance. The traditional ‘ōlelo noe‘au or saying Hāna, mai Ko‘olau a Kaupō (from Ko‘olau to Kaupō) provides us with the traditional boundaries of Hāna, starting in the moku or district (also called kalana or ‘okana) of Ko‘olau and...

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CHAPTER Four. Puna: A Wahi Pana Sacred to Pelehonuamea

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pp. 143-190

THE INTERPLAY of many dynamic primal natural elements in Puna make it one of the most sacred areas in all of Hawai‘i. The regenerative power inherent in the lands and atmosphere of Puna are also reflected in the role and contributions of the kua‘āina of Puna to the perpetuation of Native Hawaiian culture through the twenty-first century. “Puna,...

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CHAPTER Five. Moloka‘i Nui a Hina: Great Moloka‘i, Child of Hina

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pp. 191-248

CHANTS SUCH such as these in the epigraph composed by Paku‘i and Kahakuikamoana, which describe the conception and birth of Moloka‘i by the Goddess Hina, are sources of the saying Moloka‘i Nui a Hina (Great Moloka‘i, child of Hina). They convey the image of Moloka‘i as a child—small and fragile—that needs to be nurtured by the people who live there. Moloka‘i, smaller than...

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CHAPTER Six. Kaho‘olawe: Rebirth of the Sacred

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pp. 249-285

In the 1970s the island of Kaho‘olawe stirred the ancestral memory of Native Hawaiians and inspired the first cultural renaissance in Hawai‘i since the islands came under American control in 1898. Throughout the twentieth century, the United States colonized Hawai‘i through political, social, economic, and military institutions. World War II transformed...

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CHAPTER Seven. Ha‘ina Ia Mai: Tell the Story

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pp. 286-304

I opened this mo‘olelo with a personal journey in an attempt to land on the island of Kanaloa with Uncle Harry Mitchell. I finally crossed the channel and landed on Kanaloa in November 1984. Through Kanaloa...

Appendix I. 1851 Petition from Puna Native Hawaiians to Extend the Deadline to File a Land Claim

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p. 305

Appendix II. Number of Males Who Paid Taxes in Puna in 1858

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pp. 306-307

Appendix III. Moloka‘i, Petition of July 2, 1845

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pp. 308-318


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pp. 319-352


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pp. 353-364


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pp. 365-372

E-ISBN-13: 9780824863708
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824829469

Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 256493328
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Na Kua`aina

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Subject Headings

  • Hawaiians -- Social life and customs
  • Subsistence economy -- Hawaii -- History.
  • Social change -- Hawaii -- History.
  • Hawaii -- Rural conditions.
  • Hawaii -- History, Local.
  • Natural resources -- Social aspects -- Hawaii -- History.
  • Hawaiians -- Interviews.
  • Oral history ‡x Study and teaching.
  • Hawaii -- Social life and customs.
  • Hawaiians -- History.
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