“… an underlying principle was that objects not made by the human hand could not be owned, that is they could not be set aside for the exclusive or perpetual use of any individual …” (Linnekin)
‘Kumulipo’ is a prayer of dedication of the chief Lonoikamakahiki to the gods soon after his birth (around 1700.) The ‘pule’ (prayer) was given in around 1700.
The Kumulipo is a genealogical prayer chant linking the royal family to which it belonged not only to primary gods belonging to the whole people and worshiped in common with allied Polynesian groups.
It was not only to deified chiefs born into the living world, the Ao, within the family line, but to the stars in the heavens and the plants and animals useful to life on earth, who must also be named within the chain of birth and their representatives in the spirit world thus be brought into the service of their children who live to carry on the line in the world of mankind. (Beckwith)
It was their belief that their gods had created the land and the sea and everything on the land and in the sea. These resources were there for everyone’s use – land water and sea. Because these were created by the gods, they must be cared for. No one must take more than they need and everything must be shared. (Kelly)
In Hawaiian culture, natural and cultural resources were and are one and the same. Native traditions describe the formation (literally the birth) of the Hawaiian Islands and the presence of life on, and around them, in the context of genealogical accounts.
All forms of the natural environment, from the skies and mountain peaks, to the watered valleys and lava plains, and to the shoreline and ocean depths are believed to be embodiments of Hawaiian gods and deities. Earth and nature possessed mana (spiritual life forces) that came from the gods. (Maly)
It was the nature of place that shaped the cultural and spiritual view of the Hawaiian people. ‘Cultural Attachment’ embodies the tangible and intangible values of a culture – how a people identify with, and personify the environment around them.
It is the intimate relationship (developed over generations of experiences) that people of a particular culture feel for the sites, features, phenomena, and natural resources etc., that surround them – their sense of place. This attachment is deeply rooted in the beliefs, practices, cultural evolution and identity of a people. (Kent)
One Hawaiian genealogical account, records that Wakea (the expanse of the sky-father) and Papa-hanau-moku (Papa, who gave birth to the islands) – also called Haumea-nui-hanau-wawa (Great Haumea, born time and time again) – and various gods and creative forces of nature, gave birth to the islands.
As the Hawaiian genealogical account continues, we find that these same god-beings, or creative forces of nature that gave birth to the islands, were also the parents of the first man (Haloa), and from this ancestor all Hawaiian people are descended.
It was in this context of kinship, that the ancient Hawaiians addressed their environment, and it is the basis of the Hawaiian system of land management and use. (Maly)
Before the constitution was established, all property rights for both chiefs and commoners were unstable; the entire control over the land was vested in the king. According to the opinion of learned men the land belongs to the common people, and property rights are to be vested in the commoners.
In old days the inheritance of the family burial place, the caves and secret burial places of our ancestors was handed down from these to their descendants without the intrusion of a single stranger unless by consent of the descendant, so that wherever a death occurred the body was conveyed to its inheritance.
These immovable barriers belonged to burial rights for all time. The rule of kings and chiefs and their land agents might change, but the burial rights of families survived on their lands. Here is one proof of the people’s right to the land.” (Kamakau)
With this right of the common people to the land is connected an inherent love of the land of one’s birth inherited from one’s ancestors, so that men do not (willingly) wander from place to place but remain on the land of their ancestors. The Kona man does not wander to ʻEwa or Koʻolau, nor does the ʻEwa man change to Waialua.
Whether rich or impoverished and barren, his love is unchanged; he cannot treat the land with contempt. However good the land on which he later lives he will wish to return to the land of his birth.
The land so worthless in the eyes of a stranger is good to him. But today the habit of going away for an education or sailing abroad has undermined this old feeling for the land. (Kamakau)
In old days captives might be carried away in war or friends and favorites taken into the households of chiefs, but on the whole the common people remained on the land inherited from their ancestors, and a family lived continuously on the land of their birth.
True the chiefs had the right to the fruits of the land and the property of the people, and when a chief was overthrown in war his followers also moved on. But it was they who were the wanderers. (Kamakau)
The people born of the soil remained according to the old saying, O ko luna pohaku no ke kaʻa ilalo, ʻaʻole i hiki i ko lalo pohaku ke kaʻa (It is the top stone that rolls down; the stone at the bottom stays where it is.) (Kamakau) The image shows the Islands from space. (NASA)