‘Ike ‘Aina

LAIP intern Sawako and the dog, Sugar, in the lo'i

Today was our second annual trip mauka (into the mountains) with Auntie Donnie and the Laulima A ‘Ike Pono (LAIP) program. We started the day by chanting the sun up at the fishpond (E Ala E), then headed into the mountains to Auntie Donnie’s property, where we hiked to the source of the water that feeds He’eia stream and eventually He’eia fishpond. Water condenses on the rocks on the mountain, runs down in streams, then feeds  into the lo’i (terraced taro patches) where taro uses dissolved nitrogen and phosphorous in the water to grow. Water from the lo’i trickles down into the wetlands and finally into the fishpond.

It is so rare that we as scientists get to experience the whole watershed of the water we study. To see the water condensing at the top of the mountain and drink it at the source was an incredible, and incredibly spiritual experience.  It reminded me, as research here often does, that what we do is intimately connected to the land– in the words of Auntie Donnie, land is our umbilical cord.

A lei for Auntie Donnie's family, which we left at the entrance to the property. There is a small cluster of stones there where people leave offerings for the family, as well as memorial items for departed ohana.

The water at the ahupua'a's source is clean enough to drink straight from the mountain. Because falling rocks are a concern, however, only a few people can go all the way back to the cliff at a time.

...and of course, we had to collect samples! LAIP intern Martin Guo shows off his pH sample cooler. Members of the Thomas Lab at HIMB collected water samples for nutrients and pH at the top of the source, along the stream, and at various points in the lo'i. This study may reveal ways in which native Hawai'ians took advantage of nutrient cycling in streams and in taro patches to raise highly productive crops.

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Comments
One Response to “‘Ike ‘Aina”
  1. Sasch says:

    you are such a talent, my beautiful megs! Thank you for these INCREDIBLE pictures!

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  • Mahalo Nui Loa

    I recently graduated from the Donahue Lab at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and am currently a graduate student at the University of Washington. This research is funded by a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, as well a scholarship from the Seattle chapter of the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation.
  • “Where do ecological ideas come from? …Most do not spring deductively from the minds of ecologists, like Athena from the head of Zeus. Instead, they emerge when ecologists absorb the essential spirit of individual places– their genius loci.”

    ~Mary V. Price & Ian Billick, "The Ecology of Place"
  • “Aloha is the intelligence with which we meet life.”

    ~Olana A'i, Kumu Hula

  • “I no longer say ‘Hawaiian ways of knowing’ anymore. Because people relegate that to the margins. ‘Ways of knowing,’ as if it’s a quaint, anthropologic way of describing something outside us. No, it’s ‘epistemology,’ the philosophy of knowledge. Land educates. ‘Ike ‘aina. The land of your birth educates you. This land here educates you.”

    ~Manu Meyer

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