Continuing our huaka'i: in search for the intangible treasures of our island home - Mid-Pacific Institute


Continuing our huaka'i: in search for the intangible treasures of our island home

Posted on November 13, 2016

by Robynne Migita on November 13, 2016

Continuing our huaka'i (journey) in search for the intangible treasures of our island home, it is amidst the historical and cultural richness of our outdoor classrooms that we are blessed to experience and reconnect with the "life" of these places. "Life" in terms of all that surrounds us, and all that is present, and life that regards equally the tangible and intangible--treasures, stories, and what the children are alluding to is the mana of the space.

At our week's end, the children were gifted from Maunakea yet another of our island's treasures---He'eia fishpond. While we did not tour the actual fishpond itself, the state park was intentionally chosen because it offered a better overall view of the fishpond from above and also provided the children with different vantage points from which to see the shoreline all the way to Mokoli'i island or what they have come to know as the Mo'o's tail.

In our selection of spaces, the interrelationship between people and the land is a vital system that continues to be at the heart of issues on a local to global spectrum. Our hope is that if children develop an empathetic relationship of advocacy as one of the habits of mind we firmly believe is essential to their success in life, then perhaps this way of living--- respecting each other, respecting the earth, respecting and acknowledging the intangible, will collectively serve as a force that will prevail rather than destroy. But the question remains, how? How do we nurture this empathetic sense of advocacy?

Looking again to the treasures of the past, and looking to what we know of how children learn best, the lessons are in the stories. Here at He'eia the mo'olelo we shared from Kamehameha Schools, was of the story of Meheanu. Meheanu was the aumakua or guardian of this space. She was sometimes a mo'o but a different mo'o than the one Hi'iaka battled in Kualoa. Meheanu was more like a dragon who could change into a beautiful woman, a frog, and even a white eel. And Meheanu was always watching to make sure the people who lived in this area were living pono, or rightly, that they were sharing with each other and taking care of each other and the land. And if they were, Meheanu would send lots of fish into the fishpond, so the people would have plenty to eat. But if they weren't sharing and taking care of each other and the land, then Meheanu would not bless the people with fish to eat. It was also said that the people would know when Meheanu was here because the leaves and flowers of the hau trees would turn yellow.

With this story in mind, the park beckoned the children, and as magical as it may sound, it is true that the trees called to them to come and climb, the hills called to them to come and run, the stumps called out to them to come and sit, and the shell treasures called them to come and listen closely. While the children came to know He'eia and its treasures, the ocean shimmered just as it was known to do in ancient times here at Ka Lae O KeAlohi, "the point of shimmering light." It was one of the first treasures the children noticed when we arrived, and it continued to shimmer as if watching the children while we were there. Upon leaving, the birds began to chirp. When I asked the children what are the birds saying to you, Kahakai said, "The birds are saying, come back again and find more treasures." We will continue this journey of ours uncovering the hidden treasures on this island, knowing that along the way the children will discover the greatest treasures are those which they cannot keep or hold, but which they behold because of love, respect, and duty...treasures because that which they behold, they now have come to treasure.

Gallery link to He'eia: