For Pacific Islander populations, music plays a central role in society and culture. Through song and chant, the music provides a means of recording and communicating history, and of celebrating the natural world.
In light of the connection that Pacific Islanders hold to their marine environment, songs have even been composed for some MPAs in the region. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands of the US, is one MPA with its own official chant. Keoni Kuoha, Native Hawaiian Program Coordinator for the Monument, explains the basis for this:
“An important ingredient in our Monument’s ability to build relationships with the Hawaiian community – and, thus, the reason we have a chant composed for the Monument – is that our leadership and staff are able to connect with this community. Several of us are Native Hawaiian, and communication with the public is often enhanced when folks have a common experience to pull from.
The relationship between the Monument – both the place and the people who help to care for it – and Hawaiians engenders connection, emotion, and genuine aloha [affection, compassion]. In turn, people are inspired to express their feelings about this relationship, and for some Hawaiians, song composition is a natural means of expression.”
Two recordings of the chant No Papahānaumokuākea (“For Papahānaumokuākea “), composed by Kainani Kahaunaele and Halealoha Ayau, are available at www.mpanews.org/song.htm .