November 24, 2009

Meet you at the taro patch

By Diane Chang

Campus Center is the hub of activity at UH Manoa, not only because it houses eating establishments and student-focused offices, but it hosts special events like today’s Native Pacific Health Fair in the third-floor ballroom. Co-sponsored by the Native Health Organization and Campus Center Board of Activities Council, the free and open-to-the-public event was billed as a celebration of health and wellness through Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander cultures.

One of the most popular booths was staffed by director Hiapo Cashman and his team at Ka Papa Loi O Kanewai. In May 2007, the UH Board of Regents approved the creation of the Hawaiinuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, which also established the Ka Papa Loi O Kanewai Cultural Gardens. This made UH Mānoa a rarity—having the oldest, biggest (and best!) loi or taro field on a college campus in Hawai‘i.

At the Ka Papa Loi O Kanewai booth, health fair attendees admired photos depicting the various educational and community activities at the loi, including classes, field trips, and Hawaiian immersion gatherings. They swarmed the four different taro samples (the Piko Lehua Apii seriously tastes like kulolo), and admired the beautifully strong taro plant, from which poi is made. And the earth-colored T-shirt worn by Hiapo’s daughter, Pilialoha, drew smiles. Made by Hilo-based artist Craig Neff of The Hawaiian Force, it reads on the back: “Radical Hawaiian Tarorist—Without One’s Roots, One Becomes Ruthless.”

Hiapo notes that the Ka Papa Loi O Kanewai Web site is almost ready to go live. Stay tuned to this blog to learn when it does, so you can discover more about this precious retreat’s three goals: 1) To provide experiential, cultural, and educational opportunities for students and the general community by learning and teaching traditional Hawaiian farming methods, in a modern context through practice; 2) To promote the Hawaiian language by providing practical working experience for the application of Hawaiian language skills by students; and 3) To encourage the revitalization of traditional Hawaiian values, concepts, and practices by promoting kōkua (help), laulima (cooperation), lokahi (unity) and huki like (to pull or work together). For more information, call (808) 945-1562, send email to kanewai@hawaii.edu, or see the Hawaiinuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge home page at http://manoa.hawaii.edu/hshk/.

A UH Mānoa student takes in some of the Ka Papa Loi photos at the Native Pacific Health Fair.

A UH Mānoa student takes in some of the Ka Papa Loi photos at the Native Pacific Health Fair.

Pilialoha Cashman models her ‘Radical Hawaiian Tarorist’ T-shirt.

Pilialoha Cashman models her ‘Radical Hawaiian Tarorist’ T-shirt.

A UH Mānoa student takes in some of the Ka Papa Loi photos at the Native Pacific Health Fair.

A UH Mānoa student takes in some of the Ka Papa Loi photos at the Native Pacific Health Fair.

Diane Chang, B.A. 1979, J.D. 2012, is director of communications for the UH Mānoa campus. See http://manoa.hawaii.edu/.