Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ma ka hana ka `ike

“Ma ka hana ka `ike” means “through working one learns”.  In this case a sweet group of Hawaiians taught us how to make Poi out of Taro or Kala.  Poi is the staple starch of many Polynesians and Hawaiians.  It comes from the root of the Taro plant.

Each Thursday a group of volunteers comes to the Waipa Foundation to do communal work of making Poi.  Groups of people will sit and talk while scraping and cleaning Taro roots that have been soaked in water.  The roots resemble sweet potatoes that have been skinned only they are a pink, mauve color.  The small roots or eyes are scraped off as well as any imperfections.  I do not have photos of this part of process, as some of the locals were worried about privacy.  Five or six people will sit around a tub and work while swapping stories.  I met a lady whose father had helped with some of the dinners for the early Single Handed Transpac Race.  Another lady used to live in my hometown of El Toro, California where her husband was stationed as a Marine. 

This is not really a tourist destination.  All people are welcome who want to learn and work.  The Waipa Foundation exists to rebuild Hawaiian community and culture.  The grounds include a community garden and workshop.

One man was making a handmade throwing net for fishing.  It took him all day, each day for two weeks to finish an 11 foot diameter circle.  He had hand melted lead for weights for around the edge.  This net was made from modern fishing line.  In the old days, they used cotton and other natural fiber ropes.  He claimed that this net sinks faster and hardly any fish will escape.

We got to see some true local culture and felt a welcoming warmth of the people.

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