By Davis Price & Aliantha Lim
Native Hawaiian communities on Maui have fought for decades for the restoration of sufficient stream flow to support kalo farmers, subsistence practices, and native stream and coastal marine life, as required under the State Constitution. Article XI, Section 7, of the Hawaiʻi State Constitution details the State’s obligation to protect, control, and regulate the use of Hawaiʻi’s water resources to benefit its people, both current and future generations. But as in many communities across Hawaiʻi, for 150 years Maui communities have endured diversion of their streams for commercial profit by Big 5 entities.
For 30 years, residents of East Maui, Central Maui and West Maui have engaged in legal battles to restore stream flows in their communities. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has been a staunch supporter, advocate, and plaintiff in the ongoing battles in East Maui and Nā Wai ʻEhā. There have been victories in recent years with some stream flows being restored, but the struggle to protect these invaluable resources continues.
As management of Maui’s wai resources become more urgent, community-based advocacy will be critical to ensure proper stewardship of these resources. In an effort to indentify strategies to elevate community advocacy on this issue, OHA will be hosting a panel discussion – E Ola I Ka Wai: Elevating Advocacy to Protect Our Precious Waters – and will premier a new short documentary Hoʻi Ka Wai I Kahi Kūpono at U.H. Maui College on Thursday, November 7. Panelists for the event include: Koa Hewahewa, Hōkūao Pellegrino, Ed Wendt, Summer Sylva, Bobby Pahia, and Keʻeaumoku Kapu, and will be moderated by Maui County Councilmember Keani Rawlins-Fernandez. Join us from 6-8 p.m. at U.H. Maui College’s Paʻina Building for the latest updates on Maui’s water issues.