The Mālama I Nā Ahupua'a service-learning program runs four semesters a year – organized by faculty, student leaders and community partners. We welcome 'ohana and students from all disciplines enrolled at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM), Kapiʻolani Community College (KCC), and other institutions of higher education locally and globally. Individuals and groups (any age) are welcome to join us for special short-term programs or one-time activities. For detailed information about activities and logistics, email, call, or come by our office, but first and foremost check out our calendar and MINA factsheet.
The program is built around a series of common core activities and optional specialization. The common core activities include opening and closing sessions, as well as an upland (heiau), a midland (lo'i) and a lowland (fishpond) activity.
Additional Supporters: Colette Higgins WCC history, Wendy Kuntz KCC ecology/biology; Kathy Ogata KCC chemistry
Prof. Marion Kelly of the UHM Department of Ethnic Studies originally developed the service-learning program, Adopt an Ahupuaʻa in collaboration with Professor Nelda Quensell and Dr. Carl Hefner of KCC. The program was implemented by Prof. Quensell (KCC) and Dr. Ulla Hasager (UHM) in 1997. Activities are developed and conducted in collaboration with our on-site community partners, who – along with the ʻāina – are the actual teachers.
Living on islands gives a clear message about the need for responsible human interaction with the environment for anyone who dares to listen. Nevertheless, Hawaiʻi's environment and resources are in grave danger, not only because of large-scale mismanagement and development projects directed by motives of economic gain and political self-advancement, but also because of everyday use and lack of concern and knowledge.
The rate at which the environment is being destroyed makes it urgent to educate the residents of Hawaiʻi to take responsibility and action to preserve and improve what is left. We must create options for a sustainable use of the remaining resources and practices that promote food sovereignty.
The Mālama I Nā Ahupuaʻa service-learning program addresses these issues. We aim to develop a sense and responsibility of place by creating a fund of knowledge and practical experience, including Native practices of sustainable living.
An ahupuaʻa is a traditional division of land, typically extending from the top of the mountains out into the ocean to the reef. Within the ahupuaʻa, the inhabitants had access to all the ecological zones of the islands and could get almost all they needed for survival. Ahupuaʻa were self-sufficient and probably constituted self-governing political entities in early times.
The organization of the Mālama i nā Ahupuaʻa service-learning pathway varies from most other options for service learning, because of our emphasis on establishing a shared base of knowledge through common meetings and activities, usually taking up more than half of the required service-learning hours. On this ground of common knowledge, the students build their own experience from the activities in which they participate, sometimes working in small groups.
Participating students come from a variety of institutions, levels and disciplines, such as botany, biology, sociology, anthropology, history, family resources, economics, political science, ethnic studies, and geography. Furthermore, our common projects often involve a variety of social, cultural, economic, and age groups. Participants regularly bring parents, children or other family members and friends.
The ʻohana perspective is part of our efforts to reach out to the P-12 levels and to create culturally appropriate lifelong learning experiences, recognizing the importance of both families and hands-on learning in an Oceanic context. The mix of age and social groups gives younger participants good role models and creates confidence in a future transition into higher education.
We cover a wide spectrum of activities from hard manual labor to collection of oral histories. All activities, however, focus on the involvement of human beings with various aspects of the environment. The experiences and efforts of the students continue to help preserve environment and culture. Many of our former students have gone on to become community leaders.
Mālama: To take care of, tend, attend, care for, preserve, protect, beware, save, maintain; to keep or observe, as a taboo; to conduct, as a service; to serve, honor, as God; care, preservation, support, fidelity, loyalty; custodian, caretaker, keeper
Ahupuaʻa: Land division, usually extending from the uplands to the sea, so called because the boundary was marked by a heap (ahu) of stones surmounted by an image of a pig (puaʻa), or because a pig or other tribute was laid on the altar as hoʻokupu (tax, gift) to a chief
Mina: To prize greatly, value greatly, especially of something in danger of being lost (Definitions from http://www.wehewehe.com)