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Episode 28: Aloha ‘?ina in all of the arts with Kekuhi Keali‘ikanaka‘oleohaililani

The arts in ancient Hawai‘i were deeply connected with the rituals of daily life, says Hawai‘i ecologist Kekuhi Keali‘ikanaka‘oleohaililani, and whatever the art, there was a constant recognition that it was the ‘?ina that had provided the resource to create it, whether that was a tree for a canoe or flowers for a lei or bark for kapa. Aloha ‘?ina infused the constant exchange between artists and the natural world and artists honored their kuleana of reciprocity.

“Aloha ‘?ina is not just to feel love for the resource, it’s a relationship of equanimity. It’s a relationship, period. In a relationship there’s always some source of exchange and sacrifice. And I think at one time we forgot to be reciprocal—humanity in general, I mean.”

But in pre-contact times, no such forgetting was possible.

“In the daily life practices of the folks before us it’s a necessary consciousness, that idea of aloha ‘?ina. If I create a ritual object, in order to give that ritual object the most amount of spirit then my act of aloha or reciprocity is just as meaningful as the resource that I’m using."

researcher, writter, and narrator of Aloha Aina. She is currently an editor at Hawai‘i’s largest magazine, Hana Hou!, where she has written and edited numerous award-winning articles about Hawai‘i. She was the founding editor of Honolulu Weekly. She holds a BA in Pacific history and journalism from the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa and a JD from Stanford Law School.
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