'Elepaio and Pūnāwai
A Waipao Adventure
Discussion Questions and Answers
1. Why did changes in the forest of Waipao cause problems for its native plants and animals?
Changes to the habitat of a plant or an animal can affect its chances for survival. Many native Hawaiian plants and animals have specific needs such as pollinators and food sources. When their needs are no longer available, they may disperse elsewhere or simply die.
2. There are nine species of native Hawaiian plants and animals mentioned in this story. Without looking back, which ones do you recall?
The story includes koa, 'ōhi'a lehua, 'apapane, 'elepaio, pinao, 'o'opu, 'ōpae, hīhīwai, and limu.
3. Which of the creatures in the story can both fly and swim?
As newborns, naiads swim in fresh water streams and estuaries. Some transform to emerge as dragonflies; others as damselflies. Many pinao are endemic to Hawai'i.
4. Why can't plants and animals survive without Papa and Wākea?
Papa and Wākea provide all that is necessary for a healthy life – from spiritual nutrition to the natural elements of earth, breeze, sunshine and rain. Without them, life would be impossible.
5. Nā Akua (the gods) are many and are all around us. They are present in all the natural elements including native plants and animals. Why do you think this is a good thing for people to know?
When people are aware of the specialness of their surroundings, their realization translates into an attitude of mālama 'āina. The islands' wahi pana depend upon decisions we make every day.
6. Are plants and animals not native to Hawai'i bad? Or is the problem more complicated than that? Explain.
Plants and animals do not have the ability to be good or bad. In Hawai'i, native plants and animals evolved over millennia in isolation, and they adapted to their unique surroundings. Many Hawai'i natives dropped defense mechanisms that are natural and necessary elsewhere. When non-native plants and animals are introduced to the Islands, they compete for resources with an unfair advantage. Often, introduced species thrive while natives become endangered or extinct.
7. What do you think would happen to a stream ecosystem if the surrounding forest was destroyed?
Due to wildfire, development or other changes, a destroyed forest would result in no shade for the stream. Water temperatures would rise making it difficult or impossible for some stream life to survive. Lack of vegetation could cause increased erosion and pollution. And homes for neighboring creatures would be lost. The impact could be disastrous.
8. Give 3 examples of things people should not do because they harm the environment.
There are many examples including thoughtless acts such as depositing debris on roadways and trails, releasing non-native plants and animals into the wild, degrading a natural area by going off a trail rather than staying on it, being careless with fire, and causing pollution.
9. Name 3 things you can start doing today and every day to help the environment.
You could ensure that you and others in your household do not waste water – check for leaking faucets; don't water your yard when the sun is high. Also, encourage family members to save fuel by accomplishing many things during a single outing rather than making multiple trips. Volunteer for a worthwhile cause. Help to educate others. What additional ideas did you come up with?
10. Describe some good practices you should follow when exploring natural habitats of Hawai'i.
It's always wise to hike with a group and not alone. Also, you should let somebody know where you are going and when they may expect you to return. You should not take from the forest more than you need and never too much from any one area. And you should always leave any place you visit in better condition than you found it.
11. Create a tale, song, poem or image that the mo'olelo brings to mind.
There are no limits. Use your imagination. Showcase your creativity!