Video courtesy Lunalilo Elementary School
When the Polynesian Voyaging Society members first began thinking about embarking on the Worldwide Voyage, they knew education had to be at the heart of it.
The only way to make global the mission of Mālama Honua, or To Care for Island Earth — grounded in cultural and voyaging traditions in which sustainability was the ticket to survival — would be to have the youngest generations carry it forward. And not just carry it… live it.
Of course, the youngest generations are often being taught in schools built long before sustainability was a buzzword. And they live in a dominant culture where environmental stewardship is lauded, but not necessarily part of daily life and practice. As Hōkule‘ā crewmember Maui Tauotaha noted, Mālama Honua is “much more than using a reusable cup.”
To give life to Mālama Honua, we need more schools like Lunalilo Elementary.
While the sailing canoes are on the Worldwide Voyage, Lunalilo has embarked on an aligned Learning Voyage that touches every component of the school experience:
- Ownership: Each grade level has a project aligned with the voyage, from using an interactive program to model and label the functions of the canoes, to using aquaponics to grow food, to designing posters that challenged children to answer the question, “How can we Mālama Honua?” Lunalilo was an early host for the Wa‘a Talks, in which educators from public and private schools meet to collaborate on Malama Honua curriculum, to share their mana‘o (knowledge) on their efforts and learn how others were partnering with the voyage. (See video, top.)
- Stewardship: The student council planted two keokeo trees as part of the Propagate Peace Project to plant a million trees worldwide in commemoration of the Voyage. They also plant taro, and compost their food waste (saving more than 700 pounds of food from entering the landfill).
- Culture & Arts: Hawaiian language and song is central to their Mālama Honua celebrations, and all grades learned about the story of Eddie Aikau through the play “Eddie Wen Go.” The school organized a Mālama Honua arts contest with winners at each grade level for top posters and poems. Here are the Grade 5 winning poems:
Keep Your Head Up
Athena Alexynne Apaga, Grade 5
We’re living in darkness
Searching for our guide
But the lights are dimming out,
We’re lost in our pride
Is different from others
A tranquil, graceful, independent mother
But yet we stick up our heads,
Ignoring the land’s tears
We dye the grass red
And I’ve asked over the years
Why do we hate our world?
Pollute our world?
Abuse our world?
I know your time was rough.
But keep going, gotta keep your head up.
Amina Ramadan, Grade 5
Peace is happiness,
Like a clear blue sky reflecting
the clean lake of a crystal morning,
Peace is love,
No war, no sadness,
Peace is being in balance,
With love and hate,
Peace is to be able to give and to take,
To have unity,
In all countries and communities.
Peace is peace for all.
- Community: The school has also engaged its families, partners and extended community in communicating its partnership with the Voyage, so that all may know it's about more than curriculum — it's renewed optimism for a peaceful, sustainable future for children and generations beyond. Ideally, those efforts will take root beyond the grounds of Lunalilo Elementary. Events included a community celebration of Mālama Honua attended by Thompson, Tauotaha and apprentice navigator Jenna Ishii and hundreds of extended family and community members, and the annual dedication of the school’s Peace Garden in honor of the voyage, attended by the school’s community partners — the Hazel Takumi Foundation, U.S. Coast Guard, the Rotary Club of Honolulu and others. Lunalilo also maintains the beakbook blog chronicling the adventures of their mascot, ‘Imi Loa the Hawaiian Hawk, who went on the initial Hilo-to-Tahiti leg of the Voyage.
While Lunalilo’s curricular and community approach with Mālama Honua is comprehensive, it is by no means proscriptive. It should reflect the place it’s from and honor its unique cultural and environmental attributes. So when the Voyage asks, “How do you Mālama Honua?” — it really is about you, your school, your community, your heritage, and how they interrelate in the care of each other and our larger “Island Earth.” It can start with one person, one class, one school, and like the keokeo trees — grow.
How do you Mālama Honua?