In the Hawaiian perspective, water is more than just an element or a liquid. Water sustains life and connects all people of the Pacific in a way that is so deep that it makes it hard to explain. Water holds such importance to the people of this place that the word waiwai in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian Language) is important in English.
Wai is life
Wai is prosperity
Wai is abundance
Wai is stories
Wai is connection
Wai is wealth
Wai is Water.
There are many places within Hawaiian culture that wai is a part of:
- The word wai and how ʻōlelo hawaiʻi (Hawaiian Language) defines it
- The stories that teach us about wai and itʻs importance in our culture/way of life
waiʻs role in our unique ecosystem
The first step in our journey of exploration will take us into the world of language and itʻs role in culture. Wai is beyond a term for water; it serves as a bridge to understanding the depth of our connection to it. In ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, the word wai encompasses more than its literal meaning; it holds within it the essence of connection, generational knowledge, and the foundational aspects of our identity as Hawaiians. Once we have established the foundational understanding of the word wai and why it is so impactful, we can then jump into the oral traditions of Hawaiʻi and the role that stories play in that voyage.
The stories of kanaka maoli (native hawaiians) are rooted in factual and cultural significance while underscoring the importance of water in our lives. From moʻolelo (Hawaiian folklore) about Kāne and Kanaloa forming natural water sources to practical wisdom regarding responsible water stewardship, these narratives provide insights into the integral role water plays in our history and daily practices. The moʻolelo of old Hawaiʻi inform how we interact with nature and the resources we are given. We also learn how everything in ʻāina (nature) is connected.
Our ecosystem, with itʻs numerous different landscapes and terrains, depends on the essential role of water. Wai isn't just a resource; it's a cornerstone for our plants and animals, sustaining the truly unique ʻāina we have here in Hawaiʻi.
From linguistic nuances to historical narratives and ecological contributions, the significance of water in Hawaii goes beyond poetic expressions, grounding itself in the factual intricacies of our environment and culture.
Are you ready to dive in?