A Portrait of Haloa: Our Elder Brother
A Testimonial Essay in Support of a Ten Year Moratorium
of Genetic Modifcation of Kalo
Haloa. Kalo. Our elder brother who became one with the ‘aina. Our great ancestor who’s only breath could be taken from the lau(leaf) at the core of the piko(center). The plant which feeds all kanaka. The plant that nourishes our kino(body). The plant, which connects us to our piko, our na‘au, and all of our ancestors, who have come before us. But most importantly it is the plant that gave our people life and a sustainable future for hundreds of generations that continues to this day.
This immortal being transcends far beyond my connection to that piko, beyond all capability of human understanding and thought, beyond all scientific and cultural explanation and is being raped by scientists who’s only goal is to reap extreme profit with methods of science that can only be considered universally to be unethical, immoral, and falling under illegal practice because of our indigenous cultural ancestry to this plant.
Haloa takes his first breath.
The lau cascading to the piko as it curves to the neck of the ha,
The stalk of the great plant.
It's withered leaves hang gently in the warm sun
Toward the reflecting pool of the lo’i(taro patch).
Each leaf slowly drifting into its own reflection
Pulling away from it's mother.
The resemblance to an 'iewe(lit. placenta)
Cascading into a pool that could easily cradle a hundred children,
All tied to the earth,
Nursing from its great source, kumu honua.
The ‘aina(lit. that which feeds. Def. land) nurturing the expanding kalo into all its great many feasts that follow after; with poi, kulolo, laulau, or Tutu's famous squid luau, that was so ono, to ask for the recipe would mean living in a life of culinary secrecy.
Tutu’s hearty meals of fresh fish, ulu, uala, a salad of ‘opae and ho‘io fern shoots, and a modest portion of kalua pua‘a freshly salted, placed on a large table surrounding a large wooden ‘umeke(def. bowl. calabash) filled with freshly made pa‘i ai, that tutu would mold with her hands with moderate portions of water until she had rich poi with the kalo from uncle’s lo‘i just up the road.
From the eldest member of the family to the youngest baby in her mama’s arms, we hold hands, bow our heads and pule.
“Mahalo e na akua. Mahalo e na kupuna o keia ‘aina. E malama oukou ia makou keia ‘ohana. E ola no ke kino. E ola no ka Haloa. E ola no keia ohana, I ka wa mamua, I ka wa mahope. Amama ua noa.”
The prayer is lifted. It is ended. It is free.
Tutu puts her hand on her hip, smiles big, and wipes the sweat from her brow, after finishing preparing such a lavish feast. “Go eat! Go eat!” She says softly as she shoos the flies away with a ti-leaf gripped in her hand. Her hands with creases in her fingers like rings on a tree, but as soft as her weaved lauhala bracelet that hangs from her gentle wrist.
She watches as all her mo’opuna(def. grandchildren) drift by the table and take food on their plate. Each mo’opuna smiling with mouthfuls of good Hawaiian food, and giggling with joy as they take a warm spoonful of fresh poi from the ‘umeke.
As each passing generation takes poi from that same ‘umeke to feed their na’au. Entailing each following generation will continue on and flourish. That it will survive.
Taking the huli, and gently placing it back into the ‘aina, as it promises the hope of harvest for the next generation. A promise for the next seasonal feast.
Haloa of the trembling leaf.
Concieved is the child from the sacred union of Wakea and Ho’ohokukalani.
E ala e Haloanakalaukapalili!
Haloa, the first born.
Carried is the child of the mother, Ho’ohokukalani.
Ho ‘ohokukalani, the mother, who is born of the sacred union between the father of the heavens, Wakea; and the mother of the Earth, Papa.
The mother of Haloa, who is birthed from po(lit. night), where dwells all past, present, and future akua who make up all things both light and dark on this kumu honua(lit. earth).
Born is the child of the sacred mother, Ho’ohokukalani.
E ala e Haloanakalaukapalili!
Haloa, the still born child.
Ho'ohokukalani and Wakea give this still born child back to the earth. And from this burial, straight from the piko of this still child, rose the ha. And as the lau uncurled itself and opened to the sun, Haloa took his first breath and trembled into the wind.
E ola ka Haloa. E ola mau. Haloa lives. He lives again.
The trembling leaf that gives hope to the promise for the next generation.
The trembling leaf that gives hope for the birth of the younger sibling from this same sacred union.
Haloa the younger sibling.
Haloa of the second generation.
Haloa of the people.
Haloa of the kanaka maoli.
Our sacred connection to Haloa can only be held in the highest regard and utmost respect for the origin of such a birth in nature for the kanaka maoli, who are undeniably the true people of this ‘aina.
It goes beyond the aspect of gods and mythological unions. It goes beyond that from which stems Hawaiian philosophy of creation of life and of such a beings as Haloa. It tells us a story that man must respect for nature because if nature can create such a life as Haloa, then nature must be the highest form of mythical like endurance. How can we as mere human beings even begin to comprehend or even pretend to comprehend the infinite unpredictability that nature wields?
The law of nature must govern not only kalo, but all of our food crop and plants. To say that we have the power over natural law, and can manipulate life without question says that we have come to a place in humanity when we no longer respect life, when we think outside of the environment we live.
But most importantly, it presents the question, if nature is capable of creating such a rich life in nature, which is ultimately meant to feed people at large demands, why are we having to tamper with it’s life through genetic engineering, indefinitely altering that plants natural law and it’s natural life for the purpose of research? Are we as humans so inclined to control life that we must understand nature’s richest creation’s?
Is it the curiosity for how the nature of such a thing is made up, or are we wanting to understand how we can control nature and produce life for our own greedy profit in controlling our food source? Tightening the grip of have’s and have not’s
Man has proven incapable and highly irresponsible to hold and wield this power. They have shown no restraint in pushing forward with unregulated research on our sovereign land. Genetically Modified food research that has been stopped in a majority of our international community because of the ethical, moral, and serious health and human welfare questions regarding their methods of research and farming. One of the biggest questions being that these company’s have the intent for patenting any plant they create so they may ultimately control a food crop.
Control for how it is grown. Control of how it cooks and is put on the table. How it tastes in your mouth. How it digests in your stomach. How the genetically modified nutrients are absorbed into your body. Complete and total control as your huli shrivels up and dies instead of being able to turn it back into the earth for it’s next season. Instead, having to turn to the company who licensed and patented the plant you harvested in your ground, to be purchased in order for you to have a new season.
Not only that, but any keiki’s or hybrid keiki’s that stem from your plant, the patenting research company could then own and seize at their disclosure because of its patent on that plant.
A case in the Midwest of an independent canola farmer proved true as the giant Mansanto biotech company’s seeds blew into the farmer’s fields naturally. His organic canola fields were naturally contaminated with genetically modified canola. The farmer then received a letter by mail stating that the company owning the patent, was filing suit, and would be taking him to court as a violation of Mansanto’s corporate patent. Mansanto is also based here in our state on Kaua‘i doing corn research. Corn research, which has caused medical conditions at a public school here in Waimea by Syngenta a company with similar genetic farming practices.
We the people cannot allow a government or corporate entities of this kind to control any type of food source, especially Haloa, who is cradled in the great bosom of our sovereign land.
We do not want manipulative corporate and government backed scientists, funded largely by Government and private agencies to continue this type of research here in our sovereign kingdom of Hawai‘i and in the U.S. occupying state of Hawai‘i. We do not want, nor do we see the need for this type of control. There has been enough done already to control our lives as a Hawaiian nation and culture, leave our plants alone.
We cannot stand by and allow genetics labs under the guide of Government and Corporate interests to research and take properties from kalo and other plants. Privatized entities, who, have shown no restraint in pushing their research forward when there are too many risks surrounding research already being conducted here in our islands. i.e. Mansanto, Syngenta, Pioneer.
Taking properties, which they intend to manipulate, produce, create, and sell at the cost of unregulated genetically infected food and land, high-risk potential for damages to human health and welfare, and the continuing destruction of safe, naturally bio-diverse, environments.
The human hand has made too many mistakes to allow another potential mistake to sneak in the door. “For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction.” I believe we all should think about this, before making any decision regarding how our elder brother Haloa should be played with.
I ask that we start our year off in making the right decision to save Haloa. Save Him from the grasp of illegal manipulation and control. Save him from the genetic touch of human hands, and question yourself why other genetically modified foods are being allowed to continue without your jurisdiction. We face too great a risk in even thinking on it and having Haloa on our discussion table.
Please support our plea to stop genetic engineering on Kalo. Ke’olu’olu mai. Please think about the repercussions your decision could affect if a moratorium isn’t in place, and how that will effect the kanaka maoli community indefinitely. Think about the damaging effects genetic research in Hawai‘i has already caused, and what we can do to stop further damages to address the people’s demands.
I think sometimes it must be easy to forget when you hold so much power in your hands. It's easy to forget the few people that you run into in your early years as a budding politician, who may have been the one who affected your life with one single sway of a vote. A vote that mattered amongst thousands and sometimes millions of others.
Sometimes it's just that easy to forget.
So it is with the power of what the people speak that says something to remember. To speak with positions of those who represent themselves and what they truly believe to be right, especially when it comes to food and the livelihood of farmer's that it supports.
“Mai ho 'omauna i ka 'ai o huli mai auani'i o Haloa e nana.
Do not be wasteful of food lest Haloa turn around and stare [at you].
Do not be wasteful, especially of kalo, because it would anger Haloa, the taro god, who would sometime let the waster go hungry.”
Mary Kawena Pukui, ‘Olelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings
Heed to these words for all food's sake.
Mahalo nui loa me ke aloha pumehana no. E ola mau Haloanakalaukapalili!