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About the Strategy

Hawaiʻi and its people are uniquely connected to the ʻāina (land). The mana (spirit) of each place is celebrated with a name that describes an important person or event. For example, the island of Maui is named after the demi-god Maui who created the islands by pulling them out of the ocean on his magic fishhook. However, many historical place names are no longer used.

Studying the history of a place, its story, how the land was used, and implications for the future can help students make meaningful connections between the past and present.

Place-based learning examines the following key elements:

  1. History

    What happened before? Gather information about beginnings, including the place name and how it came about. Identify the people who once occupied or visited this place.
  2. Culture

    What practices were important to the Hawaiians who lived here? Explore the significant norms, customs, and traditions of the place from a Hawaiian perspective.
  3. Geography/Geology/Ecology

    What is the natural environment? Examine the location, its geological structure, and the living creatures that inhabit the place.
  4. Bridging the Past and Present

    How are we connected? Look for links between traditional and present-day practices to help develop a sense of connection to the land and the community there, fostering an ethic of care and responsibility.
  5. Modern Land Issues

    What difference can I make? Make personal connections to the place by becoming involved, and deepen your understanding of "mālama" (concern for land and for sustaining its resources)


Read the following articles to learn more about place-based learning from a Native Hawaiian perspective.

Hawaiian Place Names (PDF)
This reading describes the tradition of place names and their role in Hawaiian history and culture.

The Nā Honua Mauli Ola Part 1 (PDF) | Part 2 (PDF)
This brochure and article examine the seven guidelines/pathways for culturally healthy and responsive learning environments developed by the Native Hawaiian Education Council.