Experiencing ‘Ai Pono at Chaminade University
At Chaminade University, themes of Marianist and Native Hawaiian values easily interweave themselves, much like ferns and flowers, wrapped with strips of lauhala to make lei. That was surely exemplified at the wellness event, ‘Ai Pono, held last night at Ho’okipa Terrace.
Spearheaded by Sonya Zabuala (ONHP program specialist), the Office of Native Hawaiian Partnerships (ONHP) offered the Chaminade ‘ohana an opportunity to learn to eat intentionally with a focus on the Native Hawaiian diet.
Earlier that day, Father George Cerniglia, SM had invited students, staff and faculty at UPAC to attend the event, which was also sponsored by Campus Ministry and the Office of Student Activities and Leadership (OSAL).
“‘Ai Pono is mirrored in the Marianist value of educating for service, justice and peace,” Fr. Cerniglia said. “For example, Campus Ministry goes out to the community to not only feed the hungry but to sit down and talk story with those whose bellies are empty and morale weary. ‘Ai Pono is about building community. Food is used to break down barriers and create a space for storytelling. It is about sharing and caring for those you eat with and prepare food for.”
Mele Kalama-Kingma, more than a dietician specializing in Native Hawaiian diet, accompanied by her father, Cy Kalama (Uncle Cy), who raises kalo in Waipio Valley on the island of Hawaii, shared mana’o (wisdom) on various foods used by Native Hawaiians and the healthiness of their ancestors’ choices. Uncle Cy shared about the times he and his family would fish with a seine — hukilau — at Kailua beach and eat mostly fish for protein, rather than Spam and other canned goods. With family health problems such as diabetes for kupuna (elders), there was a push back towards healthier cultural choices for the family.
“‘Ai Pono is a value of intention. It is about making informed choices regarding human consumption. With intention, community members create opportunities to make wiser and more sustainable choices,” said Fr. Cerniglia as he connected Pope Francis’s Encyclical Laudato Si environmental call to action with Native Hawaiian values. “‘Ai Pono places ‘aina or land as sacred, as kin. When we intentionally take care of the land, when we make right or make pono, the earth gives back to us in abundance,” he reflected.
That evening daughter and father shared food with the group. The abundance included dried he’e (squid) and aku (fish), squid luau made with coconut milk and kalo leaves, pickled onions, boiled peanuts and soy beans, haupia pudding, and salt made on lava rocks. Guests made compote with fruit they had brought.
Mele had steamed kalo corm from her father’s farm and brought poi pounders and wooden platters. She quietly left her PowerPoint, sat on the mat in the middle of the circle and began to clean the corm as she invited guests to join her. Students willingly sat on mats with some staff and faculty members and pounded poi. Everyone “talked story” and ate throughout the experience.
The smell of plumeria and ti leaves mingled with the aroma of Hawaiian food and fresh poi. The aloha circle that had been formed at the beginning of the presentation, holding hands in prayer, quietening hearts and minds with shared pule, seemed to bond participants into the realness of ‘ohana and community.
Wellness Programs–Check out OSAL’s Wellness Board across from the OSAL office in Clarence T.C. Ching Hall, Room 106, for updates on all upcoming programs. You can also check the University Events Calendar at https://events.chaminade.edu/.