Ala Kahakai ‘O Kawaihae
The Ala Kahakai is a pathway along the shores. This type of pathway or trail provided opportunities for families and friends to gather their fishing supplies and utilize the Ala (trail/pathway) as a tool to access fishing areas to gather food for meals and offerings. The Ala Kahakai was also used as a strategy within the Hawaiian war system. This strategy allowed men of war access to underground tunnels, proving how our people utilized strategic action to become successful. This Ala Kahakai is a part of life’s strategy to make our world a better and safer place.
Today our Ala Kahakai of Kawaihae cries for help. She mourns for footsteps and screams for protection. Our footsteps are her heart beat and our protection is our right of passage. This leads us of the Ala Kahakai national trails program to re-define the nature of the trail physically and spiritually.
Two of our objectives are to reach the people of our community, fundamentally re defining the idea of an Ala Kahakai and restore the Ala Kahakai around its physical habitat. By restoring its physical habitat the heartbeat of the trail will again start to pound and penetrate the earth spearing the heart of every man, spirit or beast. We are the beat; we hold the feet that walk along the shores. Let us all walk together.
By Jessip Akau, age 19, Ala Kahakai Trail Association
Toni Thompson, E Mau Na Ala Hele
I have lived in Hawai’i near the Ala Kahakai Trail since the 1970s, having first come here as a tourist. I became involved with E Mau Na Ala Hele, the first Ala Kahakai Trail stewardship organization, to explore the coastline and learn about the history of the island. My favorite thing about the Trail is how incredibly varied the jagged coastline is. There is white sand, black sand, green sand, tidal pools and volcanic rocks. Exploration of nooks and crannies in the rocks often reveals turtles basking on the shore.
I love that the trail is very much a living trail; so many people use the Trail to fish or just enjoy the ocean views, yet many are not even aware that they are on this special pathway. The MOU (see next page) preserves and designates where the trail is to make people aware that there is something truly special there.
-Toni Thompson, E Mau Na Ala Hele
The ala kahakai is referred to as a trail in western terms but to Hawaiian represents a path, a path to our future and a path to our past. Along this path you will find our heiau (sacred temples, our iwi (bones and our ki’i pohaku (drawings in the stone which is our only written trace). Even the ancient chants tell us stories of our gods and goddess’ travels, elements, plants, and people unique to each area. Before we enter the trail, we chant to ask permission from our kupuna (ancestors) to enter, called protocol. We must acknowledge the sacredness of our ‘aina (ancestral homeland) and ancestors upon entering these places. Doing protocol changes the way any visitor sees the trail because it opens up the spirit and lets us receive the knowledge and teachings of our kupuna and ‘aina. Our kamali’i (children from this land) know that the are directly linked to the kupuna and there is a connection to our mo’opuna (future generations). Therefore we all hold a kuleana (responsibility) to malama ‘aina (care for our land) for our kupuna and mo’opuna. ALa ala kahakai is living. If our ‘aina dies, so will we as Hawaiians.
- Waimakalani Iona, Ala Kahakai Trail Association