Mānoa Heritage Center

Join us for our first Virtual Kahaukani Conversations of 2022 with guest speaker Puanani “Nani” Anderson-Fung, a graduate student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Botany program.

This presentation is intended to be a fun, fast-paced story of how faith in the synergism of indigenous and global plant science, allowed me to solve the mystery of the Hawaiian plant name laua‘e—by showing that it actually names two very different fragrant fern species—and how this then led me on a journey across Polynesia, looking for the origin of this name—which is a Tongan name for an aromatic tree.

Along the way, the study was able to restore indigenous knowledge that had been obscured for centuries, including forgotten knowledge of plant usage and the identity of certain Polynesian plant names; evidence for an emigration pathway from Tonga to both the Society and Marquesas Islands; and demonstration of the parity between indigenous and global (Linnaean) plant classification.

These results help to restore biocultural and linguistic diversity and demonstrate the power of research built on a foundation that acknowledges the common ground occupied by the plant science of the Polynesians and that of the globally-applicable Linnaean system—as well as their differences—which are based, not in the disparity of character, competence, or intellect, but on the range of their intended applicability.

If you love detective mysteries, historical intrigue, Polynesian migration theories, or the plants, languages, culture, or history of Polynesia—this talk will keep you entertained.

Kahaukani Conversations is made possible with support from: 

Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority’s Kūkulu Ola Program, administered by the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation

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