Aloha from Lavaland

a film directed by Phillips Payson and Susan Marie Snyder, 55 minutes.

In June 2014, lava starts flowing from a volcano toward the town of Pahoa in the Puna district of Hawaii. Aloha from Lavaland is not only a documentary about this geological event. More so, it is a documentary on the attitude of the local people living in harmony with nature.

The flow of lava is slow and unpredictable. There is only one road into Pahoa. Depending where the lava flows, there is the potential for the town to become cut off from supplies. There is also the potential for homes to be destroyed.

Some people leave. Some people propose attempting to divert the lava. The native people and committed transplants are calm. They have solar power and a sustainable supply of food from gardens, coconut trees, fishing, and hunting. They are collectively self-sufficient and they will help each other. This ties in with the true meaning of Aloha.

They refer to the source of lava as Tutu Pele. Tutu means grandmother. Pele is the goddess of fire. In a real sense, they respect mother nature like an ancestor. They think of the lava as creating new earth rather than a destructive force. They use the phrases “falling apart so it can fit together” and “love prevails all trauma.”

After 120 days the school closes due to intense smoke.  After 122 days the road is closed. After 137 days the first home is burned. After 175 days the only shopping center is closed.  Nobody knows the direction the lava will take nor the extent of eventual damage.

The lava flows for seven months before it stops advancing. It could begin again any time.

Aloha from Lavaland, 2016. View this film on

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