Dr. Isabella Aiona Abbott, a Native Hawaiian scientist notes that in Hawaiian culture land, sea, sky, and all creatures were meaningfully related. The highest chiefs were tasked with caring for the land (mālama `āina) and protecting it for the common people. Sayings such as "He ali`i ka `āina, he kauwā ke kanaka, The land is a chief, man is its servant" and "I ka nānā no a `ike; By observing one learns" reveal Hawaiians considered themselves as part of and responsible for sustainable social ecosystems.
In this light, BudBurst's ethnobotanically and ecologically important Hawaiian plants provide a 21st century platform that supports deep cultural traditions of purposeful observation and civic action oriented to sustainability. Project BudBurst and faculty from the University of Hawai'i-Manoa have launched a collaboration aimed towards making cultural connections to plants and increasing awareness throughout Hawai'i of the role of native plants in sustaining healthy terrestrial ecosystems that in turn protect mauka to makai (ridge to reef) ecosystems.
Abbott, I. A. (1992). La'au Hawai'i: Traditional Hawaiian Uses of Plants. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press.
Pukui, M. K. (1983) Olelo Noeau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical sayings. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press
Photos courtesy of Pauline Chinn and Courtney Meier