Kupuna also means ancestor and includes the many generations before us who by their spiritual wisdom and presence guide us through personal, familial or community difficulties. We look to our kupuna to help us find and fulfill our pathways through life. Included among our kupuna are the family guardian spirits or 'aumakua who take physical shape, [for example] in the form of a honu (turtle), mano (shark) or a pueo (owl), and come to visit, warn and communicate with us.
Finally, kupuna means the source, the starting point or the process of growth. This meaning is related to the notion that our direct forebearers and those of the distant past remain living treasures who continue to help us grow in numerous ways. They are a source of experience, knowledge, guidance, strength and inspiration to the next generations.
These various meanings of kupuna show how rich a resource they are and why they should be tapped to contribute to the betterment of Hawai'i, for they truly represent one of Hawai'i's fastest growing natural resources.
Prepared by Kahikahealani Wight, Professor of Hawaiian Language and Literature, Kapi'olani Community College
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