SurvivalHandbookSurvival and preparedness guides have gained a lot of popularity in the last few years, becoming a part of pop culture with the broadcast of reality shows like Doomsday Preppers and apocalyptic dramas like The Walking Dead.

The Hawaiian Survival Handbook (Watermark Publishing, 2014) by Brother Noland has all the necessities of a mainstream survival guide, but better. Not just because it includes plants, animals and scenarios specific to Hawai‘i, but because it considers the culture and customs of the people that live in Hawai‘i. It’s a valuable collection of knowledge, honed over generations, passed down from kūpuna who were once more connected to the land. Brother No puts an emphasis on aloha as key to not just learning wilderness survival, but balanced living.


There are all kinds of smarts…and the aloha spirit is key to using all of them together for survival. A good sense of aloha keeps you open to learning as many “smarts” as you can. Your ego won’t get in the way because learning and listening is what aloha is all about. That’s how I learned to survive.

One might think, “when am I ever going to need to know how to field dress a duck?” But this book is full of practical information for all types of people. So much of our life here is spent outdoors and many of the instructions in this book are helpful for everyday safety and enjoyment of our ʻāina:

  • How to Avoid a Shark Attack
  • How to Survive a Rip Tide or Undertow
  • How to Forage Hawai‘i’s Shoreline
  • How to Wayfind in the Forest
  • How to Read Hawai‘i’s Weather
  • How to Avoid a Wild Pig Attack

There are also an assortment of sensible tips such as how to treat an upset stomach, an insect bite, or a blister using plants and items in your surroundings. Then there are those little gems of humor that make this an entertaining read in addition to an educational one, like how to deal with box jellyfish: “If you see a box, assume the distance between you and the jellyfish contains its floating stingers and ‘get da hell outta dodge.'” Or how to brush your teeth in the wilderness and what to use if there’s no toilet paper. I also really enjoyed the appendices which included personal essays on the accomplishment of making sacred fire, throwing net, sustainable aloha and more.

Reading The Hawaiian Survival Handbook reminded me of learning to clean tako with my Dad, or struggling with the leads on the throw net and getting just as tangled up as the fish until Uncle had pity on me and taught me the right way to pull and carry it–of being too busy and too sassy to listen or care until it was too late to learn from Tūtū Kāne. For gathering, cultivating and perpetuating this knowledge, Brother Noland has my sincerest mahalo and admiration. This is a book of things we don’t even know we should know living in Hawai‘i.

In addition to being an award winning musician, Brother Noland is a cultural leader and teacher, founding the Ho‘ea Initiative and its Hawaiian Inside Tracking Program. The HIT Program offers camps designed to immerse participants in the traditional ways of the Hawaiian culture, including outdoor survival techniques such as tracking, fire-making, net-throwing and more.

Check out the book’s Facebook page for great pics, tips and the latest information!


Watermark Publishing has made a good practice of organizing creative book launches, and this one is no exception! Brother Noland’s SurvivALOHA Pa‘ina on September 23rd, promises to be an evening of good food and music with an incredible “from the wild” menu cooked up by Highway Inn and two stages of musical entertainment by Brother Noland and his friends, including Henry Kapono, John Cruz, Raiatea Helm…and more! Get your tickets soon because space is filling up fast.

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The Hawaiian Survival Handbook
by Brother Noland
Watermark Publishing, August 2014
Hardcover, approx. 152-160pp