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Episode 50: Aloha ‘?ina with Walter Ritte

Walter Ritte of Moloka‘i has spent a lifetime advocating for the land, and he talks here of what aloha ‘?ina means to him.

“Aloha ‘?ina describes your deep relationship with the land where there’s no difference between you and the land and anything on the land. It’s an unconditional love, the same kind of unconditional love that you would have for your child.”

Ritte remains as ardent and forceful an activist today as he was forty years ago and he has no interest in sentimentalizing aloha ‘?ina.

“The danger with aloha ‘?ina is it was becoming something like Christmas or Easter, where aloha ‘?ina became, ‘Let’s go down to the beach and pick up rubbish.’ For us aloha ‘?ina means you were going to give up your life in order to protect that island. Our aloha ??ina was militant in its approach because we had nothing.”

Now that the bombing of Kaho‘olawe has been stopped for decades, what does Ritte think of the power of aloha ‘?ina today?

“It gives you a sense that no matter how big the problem is, you can solve the problem. The question is, how committed are you? We gave up our whole lives and that’s what it takes to make any kind of change. It’s going to take people not corrupted by too much politics, people that are just totally committed to protect something and that aloha for that something is going to be what’s going to make you successful.”

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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