14 Intrepid Scholars Head off Across the Pacific
Kam, Candy, and Gayelle
Workday in the Taro Patch at the Lo’i Cultural Garden, Hawaiian Studies Center
Blog #5, November 19, 2018
In this post we honor the 14 intrepid Wheaton students who responded last spring to the call for a semester-long study trip to Hawai’i. Here are some photos of the things we have done since our arrival. Taro plants, source of the Hawaiian food staple poi, grow in a very particular way. One of the major integrative learning aspects of the Lo’i cultural garden at the Hawaiian Studies Center at the University of Hawai’i is the monthly work day which brings together over 100 high school and college students. Participant volunteers learn how to plant, cut, and prune the taro, and to prepare and maintain the ponds. On our work visits there we were shown how the water flowing down from the mountains is carefully managed so that it flows slowly in succession through several levels of ponds (this husbandry of water is part of the ahupua’a system, referenced in Blog #1). Students of flood control strategies should take note. We walked back up the stream and saw the irrigation channels that were constructed approximately 400 years ago and have recently been rehabilitated by the staff and students of the Hawaiian Studies Center.
The first photograph shows Kam, Candy and Gayelle standing on a ridge between two ponds; in the pond to the left you can see the traditional mounding technique where workers build up a pile of mud around each young plant while the pond to the right, sitting at a slightly lower level, has not yet been planted. In the second photograph, Tariq demonstrates how people stamp the rich muddy soil together in a coordinated manner so that the water will keep flowing smoothly down to the next level and the soil is ideally prepared for the new crop. The muddy soil from the Lo’i adhered like concrete to our sneakers.
Another experience we had with water was in hiking from Manoa Valley up to Manoa Falls (photographs 3-5). About a third of the way up, the skies decided to let loose with an incredible deluge which soaked us and everything we had to the skin. We finally emerged, as did the sun; the fourth photograph shows the mood once we made it back down to the trailhead.
The Nu’uanu Pali Lookout (photographs 6-11) is a famous overlook point for those driving north over the mountain from Honolulu into Kailua and Kaneohe. It was the site of the 1795 battle where King Kamehameha I defeated the O’ahu army in the process of unifying his rule of all the Hawaiian islands.
One of the memorable days of this semester was when we rented 2 vans and drove up the North Shore of O’ahu to Waimea (photographs 12-14), the site of a gorgeous beach and also a world famous botanical garden. The garden was developed in the 1970s-80s by Keith Woolliams, who had trained at the Royal Gardens at Kew (London) and saw an opportunity to bring endangered plant species to Hawai’i from all over the Pacific. One feature we all loved was that swimming is permitted under the falls at the top of Waimea valley, provided you wear a life jacket (this particular waterfall is not downstream from grazing animals and so is certified free of leptospirosis).