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Episode 3: The meaning of aloha ‘?ina with Puanani Burgess

On the thin stretch of land between stark, sere cliffs and bright blue ocean Auntie Puanani Burgess sits in Wai‘anae’s Hale Na‘au Pono, talking about aloha ‘?ina as the traffic passes by on Farrington Highway.

To understand aloha ‘?ina, says Auntie Pua, one must first understand aloha. She takes the word apart letter by letter: a is akahai, to treat with kindness delivered with tenderness; l is l?kahi or unity and harmony; o is ‘olu‘olu, or pleasantness and sweetness; h is ha‘aha‘a or humility; and the final a, ahonui, is patience. All of these qualities, says Auntie Pua, must be brought to the relationship with land.

“I have friends who do understand how to speak the language of the ‘?ina, who put their face down to the earth and like when we honi, I put my nose next to your skin and I breathe you in, they put their nose next to the land and breathe in the deep scent of that land. People I know who understand and practice aloha ‘?ina, they understand it deeply and when they go to someone else’s land, they go with the humility knowing that I have to be able to smell this land and understand what she is teaching me.”

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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