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Mālama Honua School Students Showcase Uka and Wai Project, Emphasizing Environmental Conservation March 5, 2024

Mālama Honua School Students Showcase Uka and Wai Project, Emphasizing Environmental Conservation March 5, 2024

Since 2021, Nā Pono No Nā ʻOhana has partnered with Mālama Honua Public Charter School in Waimānalo to provide literacy support through daily tutoring services. Nā Pono staff, working closely with students and kumu, play a vital role in fostering growth for the keiki. Using specialized training, they provide academic and literacy support across all aspects of learning. This includes individual and small group Orton-Gillingham lessons, which build strong literacy skills. This collaborative approach ensures a comprehensive educational experience, equipping students with both traditional knowledge and modern understanding. Nā Pono staff remain committed to cultivating responsible citizens dedicated to environmental stewardship and a sustainable future.

In a dedicated effort to deepen their connection to ʻāina and foster a profound understanding of their local environment, students at Mālama Honua recently have been working on their Uka and Wai Projects. This endeavor delves into the intricate web of Hawaiian flora and fauna found in the uka (upland) regions, as well as examines our critical resource of wai (water), emphasizing the importance of conservation efforts.

The projects tasked students with researching an aspect of wai or illustrating and researching a chosen animal or plant that is native to the upland areas of Hawaiʻi. These comprehensive presentations cover various aspects, including conservation of resources, fun facts, habitat, etc. The initiative not only showcases the students’ creativity but also highlights their dedication to learning about and preserving the biodiversity and ecosystems that make Hawaiʻi unique.

Kahea (Mālama Honua 4th grader) highlighted that only 3% of the world’s water is suitable for drinking, calling attention to the critical role water plays in sustaining life. Willa shared traditional wisdom, stating, “Our kupuna would save water in their ʻipu for access to fresh water during droughts.” Reese added, “Drought is likely in lower climates with less rain,” emphasizing the vulnerability of certain regions to water scarcity. 

Aryana, a participating second grade student, shared insights into the Uka project’s significance, “Our Uka Project is about different plants and animals that live in uka. It is important because many of our plants and animals in Hawaiʻi are endangered.” This sentiment echoes the broader awareness among the students about the fragile state of the local ecosystem. Kauʻi, emphasized the urgency of the conservation message, “It is our kuleana to mālama the birds that are endangered. We have invasive animals and plants that are ruining our ecosystem.” This acknowledgment underscores the students’ commitment to preserving the delicate balance of Hawaiʻi’s ecosystems.

These projects not only serve as a platform for students to showcase their research skills but also facilitates a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness between the environment and the community. The Mālama Honua students are not merely learning about plants and animals; they are cultivating pilina with ʻāina, acknowledging their responsibility as stewards of the land. This project encourages students to see the interconnectedness of land, sea, and sky. Through their dedication to understanding the ʻāina and its inhabitants, they are actively engaging in the preservation and mālama of Hawaiʻi’s unique ecosystems. It is evident that Mālama Honua students are not just acquiring knowledge; these students are taking meaningful steps towards a more sustainable and harmonious future for our islands.

Written by Cassidy Cox