Literally, great breath

Pukui, Mary Kawena, Hawaiian dictionary : Hawaiian-English, English-Hawaiian , 1964

s., Aho, patient, and nui, much. Forbearance; long suffering; patience.

Andrews, Hawaiian Dictionary, 1865


My father loved growing flowers. He filled his garden with vibrant fuchsias, velvety burgundies, and joyous ambers. Though difficult to cultivate, he patiently nurtured roses and azaleas to take root and blossom. Every weekend, he spent hours in the yard, pruning, weeding, and repotting. Then, in the evenings, he’d sit in the garden, puffing on his cigar, appreciating his ephemeral jewels. Beyond their beauty, he seemed to value most, the challenge and ahonui it took to get them to thrive. After all, his favorite of his entire garden was the one that demanded the most care; his gardenia. 

With blinding white blossoms and an intoxicating scent, the gardenia needed to be in soil both moist and well drained. Hence my father constantly monitored the soil to ensure it possessed to proper dampness. He lovingly pruned the branches during the off-season and filled our house with bountiful bouquets when in bloom. He diligently guarded against insects, misting the leaves with insecticide. He weeded and weeded, keeping its base free of competing pests. 

Eventually when I moved to Nuʻuanu, my dad blessed our house with a cutting from his gardenia plant. Barely 8 inches tall, he carefully planted the sapling in a sunny spot filled with nutritious soil. With daily morning and afternoon showers, the gardenia easily thrived in the Nuʻunau weather. I, the antithesis of the gardener version of my father, barely tended to it as it steadily quintupled in height. 

Even after my father passed away in 2014, the gardenia continued to grow, magnanimously blessing us with its abundance. Scenting the garden near the anniversary of his death, the plant served as a constant memorial to my father’s generosity. 

Then in 2020, near the start of the shut down, I noticed that the gardenia’s leaves began to yellow. Had it not been for the pandemic, I might not have noticed. But every afternoon, I conducted Zoom calls in the back yard, and like my father, gazed upon the ephemeral jewels of my garden. The differences I saw were not subtle. There were no flower buds and more than half of the leaves were chartreuse like overripe mango pits. Consulting Google, I thought the plant might be deprived of water. Impatient for it to get better, I desperately watered the plant twice-a-day. But instead of reviving it, the leaves went from yellow to brown and began to fall, leaving the branches bare. My heart sank.

Only at that moment, as the gardenia was dying, did I think about how it represented my father and the gifts he shared with me. He put himself into that plant as he nurtured it from a small cutting into a sapling he gently nestled into the soil. Prior to this, I mostly ignored it. Sure, I admired the blossoms when they were in season. But outside of that relatively small window, I forgot it was there.

As I franticly googled for some sort of fertilizer or medicine to cure it, I admitted to my mother that I sickened the plant through my own neglect. She looked at me, not with the disappointment which I sorely felt, but with recognition. She and my father had encountered this problem before. She advised that the yellowing and dying leaves were probably caused by aphids and that I needed to religiously spray the plant with neem oil. She also said that the aphids attract ants who in turn protect the aphids, so I would also need to get rid of the ants.

From that point, I conditioned the ground with an insecticide to deter the ants from forming a colony near the gardenia. I then regularly treated the gardenia with a regiment of neem oil. Over the first few weeks, I saw little difference other than the few remaining leaves persistently holding firm to the boughs. But, with ahonui and faith I continued to spray neem oil on the plant and guarded against ants. Then, after another week or two, almost imperceptibly, tiny sprouts of jade began to emerge from the darkly sparse branches. With ahonui and renewed hope, I continued. Sprout by sprout, leaf by leaf, after a couple of months, the gardenia reemerged from its coma. Fully blanketed in hues of emerald and jade, my father returned.


Inspired by Gholdy Muhammad

Please watch this: Gwendolyn’s Pet Garden written by Anne Renaud and Illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh. Then with you child, answer the following:

  • IDENTITY: In the book, when Gwendolyn grows marigolds, basil, fennel, and zucchini. Talk to your kupuna about plants you would like to grow if you had a garden, including ones that might be valued in your culture. 
  • SKILLS: Once Gwendolyn’s garden takes root, the author states, “Vines and tendrils like hairs of wild beasts inched along the soil” Looking at the illustration and thinking about the description she uses, what do you think tendrils mean?
  • INTELLECT: The plants Gwendolyn selects for her garden are known to grow well together. Research companion plants to learn how some plants help each other grow.
  • CRITICALITY: By reading about it, weeding it, watering it, talking to it and protecting it, Gwendolyn shows ahonui in caring for her garden while it grows and comes into bloom. How might we show similar ahonui in caring for others in our community?
  • JOY: Start a nature journal similar to Gwendolyn who collects measurements and observations of her garden. 


Mahalo nui loa to our Student Council and their advisors for organizing an effort to spread holiday cheer to the kupuna in our community. Students colored and wrote dozens of cards and our staff decorated ornaments that were delivered to the seniors receiving food through Meals on Wheels. Mahalo to all for sharing a bit of aloha.


Our partner, the Pacific American Foundation (PAF), stewards of Waikalua Loko Iʻa, celebrated 30 years as an organization dedicated to strengthening our community through place-based education grounded in ʻike kupuna. Kāneʻohe Elementary is fortunate and grateful to be a partner to PAF as our students benefit greatly through the support and resources they provide. From project-based units at the fishpond to free Lokahi afterschool programs, PAF elevates our efforts as educators. When time permits, please view this video celebrating PAF’s 30th anniversary. 


Did you know that as adults, we can pass along to students our negative beliefs and attitudes about math? This in turn perpetuates the myths that not everyone can be good at math, or that you need to solve problems quickly to be smart in math. Even students at Stanford University carry these harmful beliefs with them to college, steering them away from majors and careers they might excel in.

But, if we change our minds and communicate positive, growth oriented beliefs, we can open greater opportunities for our students. We can help them believe in themselves and get them become math achievers. To begin this task, please read this letter from Dr. Jo Boaler, professor of math at Stanford University.



See Uncle Pono Shim explain the Noʻahuna, the esoteric meaning, of Aloha as taught to him by Aunty Pilahi, the Keeper of Secrets.


Join us in letting “that light, that divine inspiration that Aunty Pilahi Paki says is given to you at your very beginning, come through and let your ALOHA join with the ALOHA of the collective to bring about healing.” 


At the Daily Piko, we share thoughts on the Aloha value for the week which helps us become centered and ready to learn. We begin at 8 AM everyday except Wednesdays.


Mon, Jan 8, 2024Waiver Day #3 – No Students
Wed, Jan 17, 2024, 4:30 PMWellness Committee Meeting 
Join by Zoom
Wed, Jan 31, 2024, 5 PMSchool Community Council Meeting
Join by Zoom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *