© 2023 Hawaiʻi Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Episode 53: Aloha ??ina with Ku Kahakalau

For acclaimed Hawaiian educator Ku Kahakalau, to have aloha ??ina is to recognize the land as our older sibling and to care for it as a family member: to love it and do all we can to make sure that it is protected. Through the educational programs she’s created Kahakalau has helped thousands of young people to experience aloha ??ina and she’s witnessed amazing results in her students, particularly, she says, in Hawaiian boys, who blossom into confident secure young men when they forge a relationship with the ??ina.

“Out of all the populations within the DOE it’s Hawaiian boys that no matter what they try they’re not able to move these boys along—and so they’re the ones that have the highest dropout rates, they’re the ones that have the highest suicide rates because people can’t reach them. But the land can and we’ve seen that over and over and over.”

Kahakalau has spent years fighting to get funding for ??ina -based programs, but support has not been forthcoming—a great frustration, she notes, given how well the programs work. And the benefits are not just to the people but to the land itself.

“The land wants to grow, the land wants to be used to produce and to protect and to shelter and to nourish, that’s its function. By us taking care of the land and the land taking care of us we would mutually fulfill our responsibilities, which would make both of us happier and more productive.”

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.
More Episodes