Mālama – Respect & Care for All


Image courtesy of: Mālama Pūpūkea-Waimea

E na kanaka e mālama oukou i ke akua a e mālama hoi i kanaka nui, a me kanaka iki, e hele ka elemakule, ka luahine, a me ke kama, a moe i ke ala, aohe mea nana e hoopilikia. Hewa no, make!

O people, respect the gods, respect also the important man and the little man, and the aged men and aged women, and the children sleep along the trailside, and not be bothered by anyone. Failure to do so is death! (Kānāwai Māmalahoe – Law of the Splintered Paddle)

Mālama ke Akua

E noho ana ke akua i ka nāhelehele

I ālai ‘ia e ke kī‘ohu‘ohu, e ka uakoko

E nā kino malu i ka lani

Malu e hō e

E ho‘oulu mai ana ‘o Laka i kona mau kahu

‘O mākou nō

The gods dwell in the woodlands

Hidden away by the mist in the low-hanging,

blood-red rainbow

O beings sheltered by the heavens

Confer upon us your protection

Laka inspires her kahu

Free us! (DLNR, Wao Akua)

Ola no ka mea akua, make no; ka mea akua ʻole.

He who has a god, lives; he who has none, dies. (ʻŌlelo No’eau, 2492)

Hawaiian traditions surrounding ritual practice allowed for the reciprocal exchange of mana (spiritual power) between the ʻāina, the akua, and kānaka. These rituals varied from strict ceremonies accompanied by mōhai (offerings) of food and sacrifice, to the utterance of a chant or prayer. (Pukui)

Mālama ka Honua

At the core of traditional Native Hawaiian spirituality is the belief that the land lives as do the ‘uhane, or spirits of family ancestors who cared for the ancestral lands in their lifetime. The land has provided for generations of Hawaiians, and will provide for those yet to come. (McGregor)

The land or ʻāina was the provider, and the tenants who were beneficiaries of these resources were obliged to “mālama” or take care of the land.

On some occasions, users would offer chants, “hoʻokupu,” or a symbolic offering to pay respect to the deities; or in other cases, they would clean an area or even encourage the growth of a wild resource (i.e., maile) by providing food and water to insure its continued health and regeneration.

E mālama i ka ‘āina, a e mālama ho‘i ka ‘āina iā ‘oe

(Care for the land, and the land, in turn, will care for you) (Maly)

“Malama ʻāina from an Americanized vision is often about beautification, like picking up rubbish. But from a Hawaiian perspective it’s a reciprocal relationship based on working with the land, getting to know it, tending it and harvesting food from it.” (Johnson; Punahou)

Mālama ke Ali‘i

I aliʻi no aliʻi no nā kānaka

A chief is a chief because of the People

O ke ali’i lilo i ka le’ale’a a mālama ‘ole i ke kanaka me ke kapu akua, ‘a’ole ia he ali’i e ku ai i ka moku.

The chief who is taken with pleasure-seeking and cares not for the welfare of the people or the observation of the kapu of the gods, is not the chief who will become a ruler. (ʻŌlelo Noʻeau 2451)

Kamakau states that there were no chiefs in the earliest period of settlement but that they came “several hundred years afterward … when men became numerous.”

As the population increased and wants and needs increased in variety and complexity (and it became too difficult to satisfy them with finite resources,) the need for chiefly rule became apparent.

As chiefdoms developed, the simple pecking order of titles and status likely evolved into a more complex and stratified structure. This centralization of government allowed for completion and maintenance of large projects, such as irrigation systems, large taro loʻi, large fish ponds, heiau and trails.

Mālama ke Kānaka

E mālama i ka mākua, ho’omakua auane’i i ka ha’i.

Take care of [your] parents lest [the day come when] you will be caring for someone else’s.

(Mākua includes all relatives of the parents’ generation, including their siblings and cousins.) (ʻŌlelo Noʻeau 347)

I kanaka no ‘oe ke mālama i ke kanaka

You will be well served when you care for the person who serves you. (ʻŌlelo Noʻeau 1185)

O kau aku, o ka ia la mai pelā ka nohona o ka ʻohana

From you and from him, so lived the family (ʻŌlelo Noʻeau 2441)

Nāna i waele mua i ke ala, ma hope aku mākou, nā pōkiʻi.

He [or she] first cleared the path and then we younger ones followed. (ʻŌlelo Noʻeau 2265)

Said with affection and respect for the oldest sibling (hiapo).

‘Ohana represents a “sense of unity, shared involvement and shared responsibility. It is mutual interdependence and mutual help. It is emotional support, given and received. It is solidarity and cohesiveness. It is love – often; it is loyalty – always. It is all this, encompassed by the joined links of blood relationship.” (Pukui)

Reciprocal Responsibility

I hea ʻoe i ka wii a ka ua e loku ana?

“Where were you when the rain was pouring?” (ʻŌlelo Noʻeau 1156)

A reply to one who asks his neighbor for some of his crop. If he answered that he had been away during the rains, he would be given some food; but if he said that he had been there, he would be refused. It was due to his own laziness that he did not have a crop as fine as his industrious neighbor’s. (Pukui)

Hoʻokahi ka ʻilau like ana.

Wield the paddles together. (ʻŌlelo Noʻeau 1068)

Work together.

“The combination of laulima and kōkua means ‘teamwork.’ Each member of the group has a clearly defined assignment, but all members are collaborating in lōkahi, or unity, reaching the goals of the whole group.” (Kanahele)

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