The Love for the Land
In order fully to appreciate Hawaiian culture, one must first understand its basic difference from western culture and eastern culture. Western culture is based, in large part, on what a person possesses. Eastern culture is based more on the person and one's desire to learn more about oneself. Hawaiian culture, however, like most Polynesian cultures, is based on the land.
The Kanaka Maoli (indigenous natives) are one with the land. The land which is the basis of the culture, with its streams, mountains, beaches and oceans, must be held in reverence and protected as it was in ancient times... The historical sites, burials, language, arts, dances, canoe migrations, etc., will have to be promoted, nurtured and preserved.
Native Hawaiian say: "We are at home. So many people who come here seem lost and emotionally or spiritually homeless. They keep moving, but they never really live anywhere. We love being in our place in the sea. We will never leave because we are this place."
This concept of totality with the land and with nature is essential to any understanding of Hawaiian culture and beliefs. Without an appreciation for this concept one cannot begin to understand the marvels of this unique and wonderful culture. Love of the land is at the heart of all Hawaiian customs, language, the hula, chants, mele (songs), popular music, art, history, geography, archeology, traditions, religion, and even politics.
One cannot ignore the fact that Hawaiian culture is more than just the culture of the native Hawaiians, as significant as that culture is. The Hawaiian culture of today has been and continues to be influenced greatly by others who have come to these islands and have settled over the last two centuries. These immigrants - from England, the United States, Japan, China, the Philippines, and countless other places - have also had a profound effect on Hawaiian culture, and together with the Kanaka Maoli, make up the people of Hawaii today.
The native Hawaiians live with a sense of Aloha. The word "Aloha" consists of two parts. "Alo" means to share and "ha" means to breathe. Aloha means to share breath, and more precisely to share the breath of life.