Greg is a cultural practitioner who lives off the land in Molokai. This island is truly unique in Hawaii because it has no fancy resorts, restaurants and golf courses. It is for the most part, frozen in time. And no other place in Molokai exemplifies that more than Halawa Valley. The Solatorios are the last original family left in the valley. Greg’s father was the last elder, born and raised here. Their lineage connects them back to the first Hawaiian settlers on Molokai. Today, through the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, this entire valley — from the peaks to the ocean — still belongs to the Solatorios.
Halawa means “sufficient breath” or “sufficient life.” Here, the nearest store to get supplies is 29 miles away on a one-lane, windy road. In Halawa Valley, if you don’t catch your own food, you don't eat. That’s how it goes. Luckily, this valley is rich with bountiful fruit, fish and vegetation. It supported a village for more than a thousand years and it supports the Solatorios today. Recently, the responsibility of carrying on his family’s traditions and culture has been passed on to Greg. And there’s no other place he’d rather be.
“Culture is not secret, it is sacred.”
This is just something I always wanted to do, this is my passion. And one of my biggest role models is my father. He is my hero. He is a cultural practitioner, a kumu, a teacher, to many people. And the example that I saw him set, made me want to be what I am now.
You lived away from Molokai and traveled the world. What brought you back?
Well, I don't know if you’ve ever grown your own garden, or harvested your own deer, or caught your own fish, but the satisfaction you get from knowing the hard work that you put into these things, to reap the benefit of these things – and to know that I'm taking care of my family, feeding my brother, feeding my sister, feeding myself – is incredible. You actually get a peace in yourself, where you actually feel connected, and you start to feel whole.
What does it feel like to live off the land?
Our culture, our family, our traditions, and our ways here in this valley – this is my expertise. I was always taught from my elders, especially my father, that culture is not secret, it is sacred. And that is what a lot of us need to understand, especially us cultural practitioners, culture needs to be shared. The minute we don't share culture, that's the minute our culture dies.
You operate Halawa Valley Falls Cultural Hike. Why is it important to share your way of life?
The way I was taught to practice it, the way with the people in Halawa Valley did it, is we work with mother nature. We believe there's a spiritual and a physical connection in everything around us. And once we find that spiritual and physical connection within those things, we start to understand, and we see things for more than what they really are. We don't take from mother nature. Because it is not ours to take. We ask and we borrow. We stay pure, we use the gifts that she gives us. It belongs to her, not us.
How do you practice sustainability in Molokai?
“We don't take from mother nature. Because it is not ours to take. We ask and we borrow. We stay pure, we use the gifts that she gives us.”
It's not an easy life. I spend a lot of time away from my family and kids but at the same time, they do come here and spend a lot of time with me. My kids can do everything that I do today. Not too many 13 year olds can go up into the mountain and go harvest a deer and bring it home to feed their family. And they know the modern life enough, where if times have to change and you have to live in the city, they'll be able to survive there. But no matter which way they survive, the culture will still be alive.
What kind of sacrifices do you make to live this lifestyle?
We say, "Nana i ke kumu," we go to the source. And without these sources – the people within these places who keep these stories alive – everything is gone. But when you have people that were born and raised in that place, seeing what the place used to look like, seeing what the elders used to do, and they hand it down to the next generation and teach them the exact things over and over again, now the story lives on forever.
Why is it important for culture to be taught by those who practice it?
From our two mile long Zipline Through Paradise, to the only volcano tour on the Big Island chosen “BEST” by Princess Cruises the adventure of your dreams awaits with KapohoKine Adventures!
Valley Isle Excursions takes you on one of the most breathtaking drives on earth down the road to Hana Maui. Spectacular cliffs, bamboo jungles, hawaiian waterfalls, tropical scenery and colorful fragrant flowers are part of our "Heavenly Hana" tour.
As America’s original and most award-winning zipline company, Skyline Hawaii has hosted thousands of eye-opening and memory-making eco-adventures from thrilling zipline tours over 250-foot waterfalls, to sunrises near Haleakalā’s peak to the illuminating Road to Hana tour.
Voted the #1 paid attraction in Hawaii, the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu's North Shore offers 6 Pacific Island villages and exhibits. Featuring Hawaii's most authentic luau, and our award-winning show, "Hā: Breath of Life.” Visit us for an unforgettable experience great for the whole family.
Waikiki’s only oceanfront dinner show is a culinary and sensory celebration, commemorating Hawaiian culture and transforming the traditional island experience in grand Royal Hawaiian style. The Royal Hawaiian’s ‘Aha‘aina is a lavish epicurean journey through time.
Start your vacation with Aloha! Arrange an airport lei greeting for your arrival in Honolulu, Maui, Kauai, or Hawaii Island. An airport lei greeting is the perfect beginning to your vacation, and it’s just a click away at LeiGreeting.com.
Makana Charters is the only Na Pali tour company offering personalized or private morning and afternoon tours on the Na Pali coast on your choice of three vessels - a 32 or 12 person catamaran, or an adventurous tour on our shaded raft. Explore the sea caves, get under waterfalls, and snorkel.
At Pearl Harbor Tours we strive to be the most convenient, entertaining, personalized and safest tours on the road here in Hawaii so you can enjoy a stress-free experience visiting Oahuʻs top attractions. Our small group tours of 12 passengers or less will make you feel part of our ohana. Join Us.
In the Polynesian Cultural Center is our Mahinalani Gift Shop, displaying the finest traditional arts and crafts from Samoa, New Zealand, Marquesas, Fiji, Tonga, Tahiti, and the Hawaiian Islands. Take with you a piece of Polynesia.
The Hawaii Okinawa Center (HOC) is the “home” of the Hawaii United Okinawa Association. The Hawaii United Okinawa Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to promote, perpetuate and preserve Okinawan culture. For more information, visit www.huoa.org.