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Photo ofCurren Pope

I have always loved my life on Kauai, and I can't imagine living any other way.  Like my grandpa, Mitch Alapa, and his family for generations, I was born in Hawai'i.  As a result, he has grown up with an appreciation and respect for the land and traditions. Native Hawaiians lived, and fished, and farmed in an ahupua'a. This lifestyle ensured sustainability for everyone for several reasons.  People shared what they caught and harvested, and they only took as much as they needed. All the natural resources a family needed could be found within their ahupua’a. My Papa honors these traditions by passing them along to me.  One of my earliest memories is of him showing me how to lay net. This isn’t something that’s allowed today, but it’s traditionally how Hawaiians catch a lot of fish to give to others. We had to wait until after the lifeguards left for the evening to lay it, so the low-hanging sun was reflecting off the waves. I can still remember clinging to his back as he went into the water to retrieve the net that had been laid the night before.  The net was so heavy! We caught so many fish. Then we had to go home and clean all the fish. This entails scaling and gutting the fish, so they are ready to cook.  When we were done we bagged the fish up and gave a lot of it away to our friends and ohana.  My Papa not only taught me how to hunt and fish but also how to gather.  Some of the things my Papa has taught me to gather are limu kohu and watercress.  We use limu kohu to make poke, chili pepper water, and stew, there are many more uses, but these are the most common in my family.  We use watercress as a side dish on many meals; it also is very nutritious and healing.  Some other things he taught me to gather are hi'i wai, wana, and opihi.  These are all small delicacies that Hawaiians enjoy, and I have grown to love. Fishing and gathering are a big part of his life, but his love for the ocean also extends to surfing and playing in the water.  My papa brought me out on the surfboard when I was two years old. I remember feeling so safe with my grandpa that I fell asleep on the board.  He took me out to Hanalei, and we paddled around for a while.  I remember feeling so calm and relaxed.  This taught me to be calm and relaxed in the water and that is still with me today. Most of his lessons are focused on respect and love for the lands that provide for us. He teaches me everything he knows like how to fish, hunt, surf, and many more things. He teaches me to honor and respect the traditions and language of Hawai’i.  I am so thankful for him and everything he does for me. I learn so much from my time with him, and because of him, the traditions will continue.  Because I have learned to honor traditions, I will be able to teach them to my children, and for that, I am super grateful to my papa! Hoʻohanohano i ka ʻāina translates to teaching to respect the land; my papa continues to honor our kupuna through his teachings.

© Curren Pope. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.