Hawai‘i: Sustainability as a Lived Practice

Mauō: the perpetuation of well-being

Lacey Veach adze

There was no word for “Sustainability” in ancient Hawaiian culture.

In order to survive with only the resources available on these tiny islands in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean – 5,000 miles away from the nearest land mass – you were either sustainable, or you were dead.

Native Hawaiians created a thriving, vibrant and flourishing culture and society living within the archipelagoʻs ecological boundaries, and in kinship with the natural world.

The University of Hawai‘i serves our island communities who draw from a rich cultural heritage and traditional knowledge of sustainability as a lived practice:

Kamuela Enos is currently the Director of Social Enterprise at MA`O Organic Farms, where he works with low income communities to combat major health issues and promote sustainable agriculture. He worked previously at Empower Oahu on economic and community development initiatives and with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, where he served as a research assistant in the Office of Youth Services Strategic Planning Process. He is a Director of the Hawaii Rural Development Council. Mr. Enos holds a B.A in Hawaiian Studies and a M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa.


Dr Sam Ohu Gon III is a scientist, Hawaiian cultural practitioner, paleobiologist, and teacher.Sam received his bachelor’s degree in Zoology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He then went on to receive his masters in Zoology and doctorate in Animal Behavior at the University of California, Davis. His professional life has been dedicated to conservation of native biological diversity, and to the connections between the natural world and indigenous culture of Hawaii.