23 Jan Lo’i Kalo – Taro Patch
Across from the south end of Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club, look at the 17th green of the South Course and you’ll notice the ground dips slightly lower. This area was used to cultivate taro (kalo) in abundant terraced patches (lo’i) in old Hawai’i. They thrived in fresh water sources, and it was through here that Hahakea Stream flowed from the mountain to the sea. Earthen berms were built up to channel the water between rows of swaying plants.
The taro plant was, and still is, a food staple in the Hawaiian way of life. Diversity of the species was greater in Hawai’i than anywhere else in Polynesia. Depending on the variety, all parts of this vital plant are eaten. The purplish tuber root provides food when it is cooked and pounded into poi, while the large, heart-shaped green leaves are used as a wrap to steam fish and meats. Kalo is believed to have the greatest life force of all foods. According to the ancient creation chant the Kumulipo, kalo grew from the first-born son of Wakea (father sky) and Papa (mother earth). He was stillborn and buried in fertile soil. Out of his body grew the kalo plant, also called Haloa, which means “everlasting breath.” Kalo has been a means of survival for the Hawaiian people over the ages. When the poi bowl is put on the dining table, no harsh or unkind words may be spoken because of deep respect for the plant.
Source: Kaanapali Historical Trail & History and Legends Tour, Pip Holo Ka’ao (A well told tale travels far and wide)