Throughout this blog so far I’ve showcased heaps of water related activities – swimming with dolphins, surfing and SUPing just to name a few.
But fresh water (wai) has always played an integral role in Hawaiian culture and lifestyle; and means so much more to Hawaiian’s than you may think – water is upheld as an essential source of life and a key contributor to the prosperity of the Hawaiian people.
It all started with a stream…
In ancient Hawaiian culture wai was believed to be sacred and the earthly manifestation of the great spirit of Kane (the most highly revered of the four Hawaiian gods). They also believed that water could not be owned, not even by the highest ranking chiefs (ali’i), because it belonged only to the gods.
Native Hawaiians considered streams (kahawai) as one of the most important natural resources, and streams often divided the land (ahupua’a) in which Hawaiian communities resided in.
Traditionally a single piece of land stretch from the mountains (mauka) to the ocean (makai) and followed the natural boundaries of the stream. It was the presence of the stream which allowed Hawaiian’s to develop irrigation systems which helped cultivate the land and in turn provide sustenance to the community.
People using wai from streams took only what was absolutely necessary, and they were expected to share it with others. Such practices have given Hawaiians their word for law (kanawai) or the “equal sharing of water.”
Water directly contributed to a thriving community – the equal sharing of clean, flowing water provided the foundation from which native Hawaiians were able to maintain flourishing and prosperous crops and food sources. In fact, water was so valuable to Hawaiian’s that they used the word ‘wai’ to indicate wealth.
“Like many Hawaiians, developing a reverence for fresh water comes at an early age. We live in one of the most isolated places on Earth in the middle of the largest body of salt water. The value of wai often needs no added emphasis. My grandfather’s family comes from a line of people who value the astonishing waters of North Maui. Belonging to this lineage allows me to never forget my family’s unique connection to such a precious resource.” Cliff Kapono, part of Waiākea’s ʻohana.
Which leads us to today…
Water is still fundamental to Hawaiian’s lifestyle and culture. It’s their recreation, their food source and has huge spiritual meaning.
During your time in Waikiki you’ll be able to experience this first hand, and there’s no better way to experience the Hawaiian love for water by getting out on the ocean.
Check out Ride The Wave to find out about all the water activities available to you during Global this year!
About the Author
Becca is an avid traveller, a trained copywriter and one of Australia’s leading video marketers. As a creative content producer she’s pumped to be engaging, entertaining and intriguing the FCTG nations with written and visual communications in the run up to Global.