It seems to me that in a group such as this, there will be a range of training and protocols that have been learned, not only the pule that go with gathering, but the edicts and guidance on gathering so as not to harm the plants being gathered from. I am sick of seeing maile vines stripped bare, 'awa plants taken entirely out without replanting, truckloads of iliili taken from one island to another, sometimes in the name of "Hawaiian rights" - it angers me that too many evoke rights without accepting the huge responsibiloity that come with those rights.

OK, off the soapbox. One that I will share just to get the ball rolling, is the practice of hiking up the ridge without gathering, assessing quality and quantity along the way, then gathering only on the way down, and few from any single plant, so the gathering is spread lightly across a long section of forest, instead of concentrated at the poor plants nearest the parked cars!

I'm sure we have many others! I hope to hear of some of them that will help educate more and more of us.


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The 'aina needs protection in a big way.
However, I think we should be very careful too. Much of the damage has nothing to do with the exercise of native rights. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, only that I have been assessing this situation for quite a while and I have concluded that the part done "in the name of Hawaiian rights" is actually quite a small part of the overall picture of abuse.
The exception to this is when large commercial interests are involved, and create a "shield" of practitioners who get sucked into a problematic alliance because they feel that their rights are threatened -- which they often are. This would not happen if the rights were not threatened in the first place.
Yes, with rights come great, great responsibility. This is not a viewpoint, it is a fact. And a law much older than any kanawai that came after it. Therefore, I believe that the answer lies in supporting both.
Rights must be fully restored in order for responsibility to flow as it should.
Right now, the kuleana of the people is like a stream that has been diverted, channelized, filled with trash and poisoned. The answer is not to cut off the stream flow. The answer is to remove obstacles, help clean the junk out, restore the damaged banks to a solid and pono foundation, and return the water. Let the natural relationship between 'aina and kanaka be healed.
That's my mana'o.
Good mana'o here, and one must always acknowledge the many practitioners who care deeply for the natural resources that are the foundation of practice, and who teach responsible gathering and active care of those resources to their haumana and ohana. It seems only the violators get into the newspapers, and give a false impression that that is how most Hawaiians behave. As always, proper behavior isn't newsworthy, though it should be.
me ke aloha
I teach my mo'opuna and children that it is ok to just admire beauty and not have to have the flower in our possesion for only our enjoyment but to enjoy it and then leave it so others may enjoy it too. another thing we do is teach them from infancy to talk to the plants have a relationship with them, so if they are harvesting for medicine or adornment they will first consider the life form in the plant and asks for it's promision to partake of it and try to wait and listen carefully for an answer, it helps us not to get in a greed. where the life of the plants have no real value to us, which in turns take away from the mana with in the plants with just our intentions............or lends to it with our respect. we ask humbly, we gather with humility, we leave something to replace our footprints then we pray with thanksgiving whole heartedly............
I enjoyed reading your words: it is OK to admire beauty without possessing it. The personal relationship is another important hallmark of loina Hawaii. Asking permission, waiting for a reply, and gathering with humility and with sincere thanks, these all fit with what many of us have been taught.

You have to be willing NOT to take if the hoailona and the reply say "no." Too often people will go up into forest, make the pule, and presume the answer is "yes," but it is like asking a friend for a big favor: If your friend is sick, or unable to give, or hurt and cannot help, then the asker must recognize this and refrain perhaps from even asking. Or accept the decline to help without disappointment or resentment, knowing that the needs of the individual being asked are more important than the needs of the requestor. Otherwise, the taking might eventually kill the giver, and the taker then has committed a great wrong.

Instead, bypass the plants that cannot give today, perhaps give them some help by removing competing haole plants blocking their light or impeding their growth, convey your aloha and your wish that they live, and your hoomana of them will be rewarded later.

me ke aloha,

yes, it is an art to just listen, even in todays society just listening to someone who is talking in front of us takes skills, (we are sometimes busy coming up with something to say that we dont hear what is being spoken) on that note, quietly listening for an answer from nature can be challenging especially if u rushing and need something now! (the by-product of instant gratification= drive-throughs, paypal,television) being connected with nature on an intimate level will help the lines of communication to be a little clearer..........teach our keiki's from infancy to have this relationship will help to ensure preservation.
just a note,
when we water our plants with our mo'opuna,
we talk about kuleana, we tell him to listen.... that the plant is thanking him, , we sit there quietly as we watch the plant take in water and connect with it. we watch as it quievers, and realease it's scent as a grandson always enjoys this daily morning ritual we partake in together, he is filled with radiant joy that he is taking care (malama) of life.............he is 2 years old now, and when we are outside he will tell us shhh listen!
then we..... hear the song of a bird ect. .........we are happy that he is in tune with nature.....
Aloha E,

This is an excellent discussion topic. First I have just joined MW a couple of days ago. I'm feeling it out for now. Playing catch up here. I hope this topic is still active.

I would like to shift slightly from the original question by an addendum: WHO taught you your protocols for gathering, Maukua and Makai?

I ask this because most folks who go mauka to gather use protocol from their halau. These folks have a very poor record of gathering practises on Kauai. I have seen halau get off the plane in Lihue and see them a day or so later Kokee mauka. I watch them have mini recitals at a place of their chosing. Watch them cut down small trees to make lele to place their hookupu on. I see where they go in the forest one week later because they clear a walking trail for them to travel the forest. Sadly they chop down native trees to make lele, place the lei they make from the forest laau as hookupu. How wrong is that? If you want to bring hookupu it is something you made not from the forest. It's as though you come to visit me because you want to use my hair to make braided strands. Then you pull out my tooth and offer it to me as a hookupu? Come on now......

I learned from my parents, who learned from theirs ad infinitum. The prayers offered were always of your chosing be it christian or kanaka. Listening, look where you came from and where you going to. Always. No make big noise, yelling loud singing, chanting. No whistling. If you hear whistling or someone calling your name and you don't know who it is NO GO. Yet as kids we yelled and screamed just to hear the echos in the valleys. We'd jump into the flumes at Palama Uka and scream because it was cold but we swam anyway. There were events that happened to some of us but that is for another day.

So some of what I learned. Always use a clipper. NEVER break a stem. Broken stems and branches will lead to rot which will kill the plant. ALWAYS cut the woody stem off the bush after you strip Maile. Cut it below the bark so the cut will heal. Strip off the excess materials from what you just picked. This leaves plant material behind to nourish the forest floor.

Carry a lopper and a small folding saw. Take a back pack and fill it with fertilizer. An equal part mixture of 103010; peletized chicken manure; tripple8. Pick a place or 2 or 3 and clean around the laau you gather. Cut back overhangs with the saw, lopper. Spread fertilizer around the base of the laau. Use the cuttings as mulch over the fertilizer. Don't sweat the weight as it will all be gone before you know it.

IF you know how transplant keiki. Kupukupu,Palapalai, Palaa. Maile. OH yea....... you need to know when is the right time to do this too. Can't do it everytime you're in the forest.

I also use the same mana'o for gathering in the ocean. I hope no one takes offense as none is intended.

Pau, Sharon
Mahalo e Sharon! I enjoyed your discussion, and the analogy of pulling out my tooth to give it to me as a hoʻokupu...
Protocols and ceremonies for gathering and assembling were taught to us by our kupuna and makua in our `ohana as well as by our kumu in our halau. I cannot speak for other halau except our own, but share that we adhere to all of the protocols that we were taught by:

1. Always asking for permission in pule or oli form to the gods of the realm that we are gathering from; 2. Never picking/gathering on the way in so that we can pay attention to the trail and visually "mark" what we want to gather on our way out; 3. Gathering from the resources selectively so that when we leave it doesn't look like anyone has even been or gathered there; 4. Always express gratitude with a ho`okupu - material or vocal in the ways of a lei, i`a, pule or oli; 5. Strictly adhere to gathering from a forested area no more than once a year. There's plenty of other places to gather.

Lele are for major ceremonies and not just for the sake of displaying one's lei. Different from the kuahu or altar that is always present in our halau, or the Ku`ula that is down by the kai.

In our `ohana and halau tradition, lele and ho`okupu are made from the kinolau of the god or gods for whom that ceremony is in honor of. The mana of that god/gods are part of that kinolau. As such, we would never use non-native trees to build one. In our practice, it is NOT inappropriate to honor the deity with a lei made from its kinolau. As the leaves, flowers, smaller branches, etc. would not be used to build the lele, these materials are often made into lei or given in pu`olo form as offerings. Offerings put on to that lele can be from mauka or makai. Also, we were taught that it is pono to make your ho`okupu from the kinolau of the akua as a means of increasing the mana of the lele and ceremony. Our pule and oli are always for the kumu akua Hawai`i. These are some of the teachings that we were raised in our cultural practices. Mahalo for the mana`o shared by everyone.
Thank you all... I have read all the comments above and appreciate all wisdom shared here... here are two new perspectives, one from my halau and one from another indigenous medicine - gathering practice:

In our halau, we often dance with ʻnon-traditionalʻ adornments even when we are dancing kahiko. This is done because we see the abundance in everything, and we share only in what is abundant. Also our lei are reflective of the haumana in the halau: we are from many, many backgrounds and so are our plants. Our kupeʻe is what binds us to nature while dancing, and right now in Hawaiʻi Nei the expressions of nature include many things. For example, when our halau went to France we danced with ivy, that is what bound the dancers to nature in that instance along with the vibrations of the chanting. Often we will dance with smilax or other non-native plants when dancing kahiko in community shows and so on. I notice that our kumu only goes to find maile if there is a serious ceremony coming up, such as when we were chosen to dance for His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his visit to Maui. Our kumu hula has amazing knowledge of native plants, and her garden is vast, I trust her wisdom about them completely... sometimes we think outside the box in order to keep what is most valuable alive.

Another practice comes from many native nations on the continent of Turtle Island (mainland). It is said that within 7 miles of wherever you are, there are 7 plants that will take care of any sickness. We train to be able to find those plants and establish relationship. We NEVER ever take the first plant, instead we make offerings to it, sometimes corn meal or tobacco. Then we continue on and ask, where is the right plant, is there one that will come home with me today? Then sometimes the plant will actually shake and vibrate at you, and respond to the request. So that is how you know how to find the medicine plants if you are in that land. In Hawaii it seems the medicine plants are so dense you really donʻt have to walk 7 miles, usually everything I need is just within a few blocks of my house, although there are still some medicines I have to make when I go back to the mainland in the summer (such as antibiotics and so forth). Proximity gathering in Hawaiʻi has been confirmed to me by a Kauaʻi kupuna whom I trust, saying that for her family different medicines are used depending upon what grows in the immediate area. For the same sickness you might have different medicines by the mountain or by the sea. I hope to ask her more about this later!

I still have so much to learn about these things in Hawaiʻi. For example, last summer I made a tincture on the mainland out of two plants that were antibiotic and numbing (work on the nerve) respectively. I didnʻt know why I needed this medicine until my tooth cracked a few weeks ago, down to the root. So I applied the medicine I had made several months ago, and when I went into the dentist he said he was surprised that I wasnʻt in much pain at all, and that there wasnʻt any infection in the tooth, because the crack went all the way to the nerve root. Also, my root canal didnʻt hurt at all and after only 12 hours I was off the Motrin.

I guess the main practice I would say is listening deeply in nature and only sharing in what is being shared abundantly. Sustainable wild harvest protocols are important to follow.

Thanks all,
Eliza :)
halele'a people were always VERY superstitious. I remember that. I still am today.

There are a lot of crazy mo'olelo about my specific gathering adventures with my calabash aunties and uncles, oh MY!!.

but i remember, one of the first things i was taught was about greed.

if it looks so nice and perfect and there is a whole field of it dont go becasue its calling. If u pick, u will be taken.

(I have a hilarious personal mo'olelo about this from when i was picking at an *undisclosed* location in the ahupua'a of halele'a.) laters...not now haha.

another thing i was always taught is wherever u are picking, u must leave some even if it is the very best. if not, u will never find it again when u need it. besides the right pule,, but even that would not help u if u didnt listen to this rule!!
One day, when you feel like it, you might tell us about your moʻolelo. I would also add that what might be labeled as "superstition" by some, is called wisdom by others, especially if it reflects the knowledge of those that came before you.


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