Last week I was calling all kinds of women on Maui that had one thing in common: they care about wai (water). My mission was to ask them what wai means to them and why they choose to honor and protect sources of water, then share their mana‘o (wisdom) with our community through digital media.
All the women I reached out to were really busy, taking care of their children, running their own businesses, serving their community in positions of leadership. Some didn’t have the time to get back to me. I found women so involved with taking care of our homeland that they didn’t have time to talk about it! I also found that some women felt uncomfortable with speaking publicly about water. One woman told me that she did not speak about the water issues in our community. For whatever reason, she needed to keep her silence. Another woman, rich with wisdom regarding our water issues, told me that because she wasn’t native to her neighborhood she shouldn’t be the one to speak about it.
It was a challenge, but I did find four women who would share their wisdom about water. They were all Native Hawaiian and they all knew this word that I had not heard very much before. This word is the word for water two times together: “waiwai,” which means value, wealth, richness. Now isn’t that poetic? Water is a treasure of the earth, and perhaps that was so clear to the people of Hawai‘i that it is reflected in their language.
We live in a time when there is so much we can do with our lives and we have to choose, we have to prioritize. To what will we give our energy? What is most waiwai (valuable) at this time? For me, it is the waters of Maui. It is protecting sources of water that are valuable to our community so that future generations will have access to this treasure.
On memorial day, I will dress in the colors of water and walk from the mountain to the sea – from Ho‘omana (which means to empower oneself) on Pi‘iholo Road to Ho‘okipa (which means hospitality) in Pa‘ia. This Manawahine Walk4Water is an exercise, it is a 12-mile ritual where we can move in the way of water and remember our right to restoration.
To learn more and join me, visit: www.manawahine.org
Image Credit: manawahine.org