Kai and Wai: Water in and Around the Hawaiian Islands

July 21, 2015 @ 5:00 am – 6:30 am
Lyman Museum and Mission House
276 Haili Street
Hilo, HI 96720
Free for members, $ 3 for non-members

kai_wai_website_event_imageOur island home is surrounded by sea water (kai) which provides life, although we cannot drink it!  Of all the freshwater streams in Hawai`i Nei, only ten percent flow perennially, and most of our drinking supply comes from the sky or from sources deep under ground.  The Islands have known their share of floods and droughts; and the modern word for “law” in the Hawaiian language is kanawai, from the ancient term that described the code of sharing fresh water.  Early Polynesians developed many techniques for accessing and using the wai, the fresh water available to them … and the Hawaiian word for “wealth” is waiwai (“water” redoubled), recognizing the fundamental connection between fresh water and abundance.  Native plants and animals found ways to survive in the varying amounts of rainfall available to them, creating many endemic plant species … and yes, there are species of freshwater fauna way out here in the middle of the Pacific!  This evening, local historian Boyd D. Bond helps us fathom these and other aspects of the importance of kai and wai in the ecology of the Hawaiian Islands and their myriad inhabitants.

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