We started off the new year with our new unit of Ahupua‘a in hopes of teaching our keiki about ancient Hawaiian customs, traditions, and practices. We did so by providing activities on kapa, uses of coconut husk, and harvesting fruits & kalo.
Kapa is a fabric made by Native Hawaiians from the fibers of certain species of trees and shrubs. We choose to use the wauke tree. The keiki used ‘opihi shells to scrape the outer layer of the bark, and then the caregivers used a niho manō (shark tooth) to split the length of the branch and peel it down until it came off. That portion was given an initial pounding to loosen the fibers, using the hohoa and kua. Then it was soaked in a ziploc bag of water over a period of three weeks, changing the water out every couple of days, to soften. Finally the keiki continued to beat the kapa each day until the end of the month when we had our final product to share with the class.
Coconut had various uses by native Hawaiians, such as bowls, thatching of roofs, weaving, and making twine and rope. Twine in particular had many uses…fishing line, nets, and jewelry. Therefore we decided to teach our keiki how to make twine out of coconut husk. The following process was demonstrated at circle: a dry coconut was husked, the fibers were pulled apart and overlapped, and then rolled in between hand and thigh continuously in one direction until it was bound tightly. Once desired length was accomplished the keiki could thread shells through it to create their own piece of jewelry.
In Hawai‘i, a traditional form of food sustenance and nutrition was from the land. Our dramatic play box art of the valley of nature’s bounty, that found their way to the islands, depicts this. Keiki could pick bananas, papayas, ‘ulu, and coconuts (made of paper mache), build a lo‘i (out of paper mache rocks) to harvest kalo, and share amongst their friends as would in the ahupua‘a system.
The ahupua‘a unit has provided a window into our past to learn from. With the hands on activities of kapa, husking, and harvesting, we were able to successfully provide an eye opening experience to help our Maui keiki discover ancient Hawai‘i.