Wahi Pana o Pālamanui connects faculty, staff and families to new campus site

In anticipation of the move to Pālamanui, twenty-two Hawai‘i Community College & UH Center, West Hawai‘i faculty, staff, and families walked the ancient trail of Pālamanui into the new campus on Sunday, March 1st, in a Wahi Pana o Pālamanui led by Hawaiʻi Life Styles instructor Pualani Lincoln Maielua.

After Pua chanted, asking permission of the ancestors to walk the ancient trail, the group walked in silence along the beautiful restored path, stopping to hear traditional stories of the area from Pua, cultural, historical and biological information from history lecturer Richard Stevens, and tales of ranch life from cattleman and kupuna Karin Haleamau, who worked on this land for most of his life as part of Huʻehuʻe Ranch.

Richard’s efforts to restore the trail have been facilitated by a number of West Hawai‘i students, two of whom spoke about their experiences on the trail and what they have learned by being part of the restoration efforts.

The walk finished up at a tent overlooking the new construction, where the walkers cooled off and enjoyed lunch and the view of the nearly completed campus.

Comments from faculty and staff confirmed that the goal of the Wahi Pana was met: they unanimously felt that they were connected to the sacred landscape and the people who lived there so that they can carry the spirit and knowledge of this into the classrooms and offices of the new facility.

“It has (actually, literally) grounded me more fully in our academic community and its future location, which will profoundly affect my teaching there if I’m sufficiently fortunate to continue doing it in that place,” said one faculty member in the evaluation.  Another reflected, “It reminded me that we need to connect students, and ourselves, to the place where we live and work.”

Other comments:

“I feel excited for the potential of Pālamanui, and thrilled about the evident wisdom from ancient Hawai’i that is still on the landscape there represented by the trees, and other plants, the Trail, and it’s many side trails leading to places that show the human/nature experiences that happened there. The thought that it will just get better and better as more caring hands and feet cover the trail is like a good dream of restoration coming true.”

“Traveling with this special group of trail walkers who’s specific purpose was to hear the stories and learn some of the lessons that the landscape had to offer was very special, and I am honored to have been able to be in the company of that day. I feel happy for the place, Pālamanui, that it has a core group of people/teachers/administrators that will be coming soon to teach it’s lessons, and other important lessons of life. The place itself must feel very happy for all the wonderful things that will be learned there. Thank you for helping make this possible.”

“Love and appreciation of this landscape and a sense of value for the wisdom of old should continue to be promoted. By continuing to restore the trail, and to clean the forest along the trail of invasive species, enhancing the growing capability of the natives, and that more native species should be planted once the trail is in top shape, this bonds students to the land and enhances the chances that they will always return to this special place of learning.”

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