Kamehameha schools is the largest private landowner in the State of Hawai‘i, stewarding more than 365,000 acres of land. Kamehameha Schools’ mission is to fulfill Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop’s desire to create educational opportunities in perpetuity to improve the capability and well-being of people of Hawaiian ancestry. Environmentally and economically sustainable food production is a meaningful component of Hawaiian culture, a diversified economy, and overall well-being of Hawai‘i’s people.
Since its inception in 2013, the annual Mahi‘ai Match-Up contest has sought out farmers, and other agricultural producers including food system entrepreneurs interested in growing and producing food in Hawai‘i. This program is part of Kamehameha Schools' food systems initiative that aims to grow healthy and accessible food in Hawai‘i to feed Hawai‘i and beyond.
Founded in the year 2000, The Kohala Center is an independent, community-based center for research, conservation, and education. We turn ancestral knowledge and research into action, so that communities in Hawai‘i and around the world can thrive—ecologically, economically, culturally, and socially. By respectfully engaging Kohala and Hawai‘i Island as models of and for the world, we work toward a state of pono, in which individuals realize their potential, contributing their very best to one another, to the community, and to the ‘āina itself.
Recognizing the need for more systemic approaches to solving Hawaiʻi’s greatest challenges, including food security, the Hawaiʻi Island team has broadened and evolved the program to Mahiʻai a Ola.
MAHI - is the action, to cultivate.
The concept of mahi, in a conventional farming context, means to cultivate, farm or work. But mahi also means to be strong and energetic as a worker. Thus, the concept of mahi in a broader sense, is about strength and vigor, not only cultivating the land but also our relationship with it.
With our hands held out, we are taking more than we give. But when we huli a mahi, turn our hands down and put them into the ground, we are giving more than we take. Looking at farming from a more holistic, cooperative perspective allows us to huliāmahi - join together in great numbers to act in common - to create systems of abundance that overflow like a river full of water.
ʻAI/ʻĀINA - what is being cultivated - in many forms.
ʻAi literally translates to food but in a broader sense means sustenance, like ʻāina that which sustains us.
ʻAi can come in many forms, food, knowledge, skills, our ability to think and process, and our relationships to the land, to ourselves and to each other.
OLA - is the outcome.
Mahiʻai a Ola is the idea of an ʻāina-based lifestyle that is not about living to eat but about eating to live. In the larger food system, farmers don’t just cultivate food, they cultivate minds, families, and communities.
As we move away from the concept of consumerism and back to the concept of community-based food systems, we begin to embrace the mahiʻai - all components of what that means. Not only farmers, but the cultivation of a nurturing, nourishing environment. Because farmers, like students, thrive in a healthy environment. Mahiʻai a Ola is about more than land and money it is about honoring our mahiʻai as exemplars in our community, true lāhui lifters, who not only grow food but provide sustenance for all. Huliāmahi...Mahiʻai a Ola.