Why Staying Connected to Your Kamaʻāina Roots Matter When Living Abroad

by Keolu

Kama  –  “Child” 
ʻĀina  –  “Land”

Kamaʻāina – “Native-born, one born in a place”
Hawaiian Dictionary, Mary Kewena Pukui, Samuel H. Elbert

The Heart of Home

You are kamaʻāina.  Literally, a child of the land.  In Hawaiian, kamaʻāina means native-born, one born in a place.

A kamaʻāina does not mean Hawaiʻi resident – anyone can get a Hawaiʻi driver’s license.  Being kamaʻāina is more than just being from Hawaiʻi.  It is being of Hawaiʻi. 

Being a child of the land is a unique way of seeing the world and a special perspective of life. Kamaʻāina have a special bond and connection to our islands.  Being a child of Hawaiʻi is spiritual, regardless of your religion.

When I moved to the mainland for college, I was excited to see and experience new places and cultures. But I continued to have an unexplainable gravitic pull to home.  The need to connect and identify and be around my culture. I know you feel it too.

When living far away, those home roots require frequent nurturing. Your kamaʻāina connection is foundational… but perishable if not maintained.

Your connection to home is the compass of your identity, it keeps the essence of home alive inside you, it drives you to learn more about your culture, and allows you to pass on your cultural values to the keiki of the next generation.

Maintaining Your Cultural Connection is the Compass of Your Identity

It’s your unique aloha-perspective in the world that makes you special as kamaʻāina.  

Your Hawaiʻi cultural connection is your compass to navigate in societies far away.  Making an effort to stay connected is how your compass stays pointed and calibrated to what makes you kamaʻāina.

Your perspective is your attitude.  Your attitude inspires your actions.  Your actions become our legacy.

Your Hawaiʻi roots offer a strong sense of self and place in the world.  This sense of place empowers us with a unique identity that stands out in a multicultural world.  It’s about knowing where we come from and letting that knowledge guide us in where we are going.

Hawaiʻi is more than where you are from.  Hawaiʻi is the way that you were raised.  Hawaiʻi is the way you see life.  Hawaiʻi is the aloha spirit you bring to the world.

Kamaʻāina is all the little things cultivated inside you.  Kamaʻāina is in the way that you greet everyone with a hug and kiss.  Kamaʻāina is the way you see your community as your village and habitually think of your village before yourself.   Kamaʻāina is in the way you say uncle and aunty with a special family reverence whether they are blood related or not.

Maintaining your connection to our ʻāina is your heart’s pipeline to the magic that makes you shine in the world.

Living Your Culture Keeps the Essence of Home Alive No Matter Where You Are

Hawaiʻi culture, with its rich oral histories, unique art forms, and ancient practices, is an irreplaceable part of the world’s cultural heritage. Kamaʻāina living abroad have the unique opportunity to act as guardians of this heritage, ensuring that it is remembered, revered, and continued.

When you maintain your connection, you uphold a legacy that has been passed down through generations. It’s about carrying our collective past with you and showcasing it with pride. This is crucial in a world where globalization risks diluting individual cultural identities.

Embracing our heritage means living the values taught by our ancestors. It’s about respect for the ‘āina, the importance of ‘ohana, and the spirit of aloha. By embodying these values, we keep the essence of Hawaiʻi alive, no matter where we are.

Deepening Your Understanding Grows and Preserves Your Culture

The journey of living your culture is the journey of ever-learning your culture.

Our total kamaʻāina culture is not only vast but it’s ever-expanding. It requires re-connection.

I am constantly discovering something new about our culture and ʻāina. These new discoveries always surprise and awe me. This constant learning and growth keeps me interested and compelled to explore more.

This continuous education helps us not only to maintain connection with our roots but also to share this knowledge with others, enriching their understanding of Hawaiʻi and its people.

Only One Generation Away From Disappearing to History

Our kamaʻāina culture and Hawaiʻi way of life is always only one generation away from disappearing to history. It’s crucial for kamaʻāina living abroad to maintain an active Hawaiʻi connection for future generations.

What you teach your keiki matters to the endurance of our Hawaiʻi culture. It’s so easy for the next generation to just become culturally homogenized to their new residence and never know their compass.

If Hawaiʻi and the kamaʻāina perspective is not taught to your keiki – then our culture dies with you. It requires actively exposing, immersing, and connecting them to home.

We have a kuleana to the generations that came before us to pass on those values and special aloha perspective. By doing so, you ensure that the essence of what it means to be Hawaiʻi is not lost but rather strengthened with each new generation.


For kamaʻāina living abroad, the physical distance from Hawaiʻi doesn’t need to diminish your connection to your home. This connection is not just important, but essential for our identity, heritage, and future.

You are the stewards of our culture. If not you, then who?

It’s about preserving a unique culture, embracing our identity, sharing our heritage, and educating future generations. It’s our collective responsibility that enriches not only ourselves but the generations we have yet to meet.

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