Mālama Hāloa – Protecting the Taro

Taro grower and Native Hawaiian practitioner Jerry Konanui works to propagate and save from extinction the numerous varieties of kalo (taro), a staple of the Hawaiian diet. Jerry’s mission is also to protect kalo, revered as the elder sibling (Hāloa) of the Hawaiian people, from the risks of genetic engineering.

This video is set to a song, Nā ‘Ono o ka ‘Āina (The Delicacies of the Land), inspired by renowned Hawaiian cultural educator Edith Kanaka‘ole. Written by Kalani Meinecke and George Kahumoku, Jr. and performed by Kekuhi Kanahele and friends, the song praises several kalo varieties for their beauty, taste, fragrance and spiritual significance.
In this video survival guide, Jerry Konanui shares a lifetime of knowledge on identifying kalo varieties, successfully cultivating kalo, and preparing poi. His passion is reflected in the massive turnout of taro growers and taro eaters who converge upon the capitol in Honolulu to proclaim their spiritual connection to this ancestor plant and to oppose any form of genetic modification. They are joined by Native Americans who face their own battles with the genetic engineering of rice and corn. Finally, the same capitol rotunda is filled with the sound of poi pounders as the largest poi-making gathering in history takes place.
This program was made possible with support from Hawai‘i People’s Fund, the Hawai‘i Community Foundation and Deviants from the Norm.
Also appearing
Winona LaDuke, Ku Kahakalau, Chris Kobayashi, Hokuao Pellegrino, Walter Ritte, Ikaika Hussey, Jim Cain, Manuel Rego, Gladys Konanui, and Representatives Mina Morita, Maile Shimabukuro and Della Au Belatti.
Length – 39:09
Festival Du Film Oceanien (FIFO) • Tahiti
`Ōiwi Film Festival, Honolulu Academy of Arts
Diet for a Small Island Film Series • Honolulu
East Maui Taro Festival
Hawai‘i Film Hō‘ike • Hilo
Kanu Hawai‘i Eat Local Campaign • Kaua‘i
International Society of Ethnobiology
Beyond Sustainability • Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
Aotearoa Film Festival • New Zealand
First Friday, NATV • Honolulu

Click here to stream this video on demand

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