Spear fisherwoman and champion freediver Kimi Werner is one of a number of native Hawaiians working to make the islands a more sustainable place to live.
Raised off the grid in rural Maui, Kimi Werner grew up watching her dad spear fish to put food on the table. In addition to searching the waters, foraging on land for foods such as fruit and gathering eggs from chickens was a normal part of her family’s hunt for food.
True to her roots and living sustainably in every sense, little has changed by way of Kimi Werner’s lifestyle since she was a kid.
Putting all her skills to use, Kimi Werner has gone on to become the US National Spearfishing Champion, a culinary chef, and an award-winning artist. The environmental guardian, who believes “to live simply is to find true commitment”, still dives and spears her food, although she no longer takes part in competitive fishing.
She says: “It’s not just the hunt that entices me. It’s the follow through – cleaning and cooking my catch, that really excites me. If it weren’t for that, I would have no desire to hunt.”
“The challenges and lessons of spearfishing keep me honest. Even after I leave the water I’m more conscious about what I choose to buy and what I do with my time.”
Being self-sufficient is something that comes very naturally to the Hawaiian native, who now calls Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu home. Centuries ago, Hawaii, the most remote archipelago in the world, and its inhabitants were completely self-sufficient. Nowadays, 90% of food in Hawaii is imported and it is estimated that if the ships stopped running, the islands would be out of food in less than two weeks. According to National Geographic, there is generally only 10 days worth of food for Hawaii at any given time.
Kimi Werner says: “Obviously there are easier ways to get food, but when you put that work in yourself, it makes you appreciate it that much more. I know that I’m sourcing it responsibly, and it’s evidence that I can take care of myself.”
The champion freediver is aiming to be both a role model and to set an example to her fellow Hawaiians about living off the land like their ancestors. She shares her catch with friends and family and often has a gathering at her home, surrounded by the sea. “I love to share my food. That’s how my parents taught me, and I want to pass it on,” she says.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com