Kalo The Older Brother
BY Luigi Guarino
Unique foods are the foundation for all cultures. As for the Hawaiians people, there is no food that is more traditionally significant than the kalo. It is a native plant and the ancestor of the kanaka. Kalo is the firstborn, and kanaka is the second born. Kalo older brother cares for the younger siblings.
Today more farmers are growing taro on all the major islands. This is a celebration of our culture our heritage and our people. Every year festivals celebrate the kalo and its many varieties. The moʻolelo or history behind taro is very interesting. Malama the Aina, Malama the kalo.
According to the Kumulipo, Papa, Earth Mother, and Wakea Sky Father gave birth to Ho’ohokukalani. She grew to be a beautiful young girl. As she grew older, she became pregnant and gave birth to a child who they named Haloa-Naka (ha, the breath, loa, long, and ka, for quivering. Haloa-Naka was stillborn and placed in the Earth. From that grew a long stem and leaf that quivers in the wind. Kalo is the food source for the second-born son, also named Haloa. It is from the second son that Hawaiians trace their lineage.
To the native Hawaiians, the kalo ranks the highest in authority. The Kumulipo defines that the kalo plant is from which Hawaiians were formed. It was one of the few plants that survived the long voyages in the canoes, arriving with the first settlers to the islands over 1,500 years ago.
Jerry Konanui, a renowned kalo expert shares his knowledge on cultivation and preservation on kalo. It is more than a food source. That it is a symbol of culture and sustainable living. It is the ancestor of man.
University of Hawaii Kalo – Uncle Jerry Koananui