Growing the Legacy of Papahānaumokuākea: Part II


Photo: Kikiloi Andrade

Photo: Pelika Andrade

By Dr. Kekuewa Kikiloi and Pelika Andrade

A name song for Papahānaumokuākea composed by Kainani Kahaunaele and Halealoha Ayau opens in acknowledgement of the dawning of the sun to our East. It is also symbolic of the greater dawning of knowledge that is spreading across our pae ʻāina.

It speaks of the yearning for deep knowledge found in the depths of our oceans and in the far recesses of our Hawaiian Universe. In both our physical and spiritual worlds, these depths are Papahānaumokuākea.

Over the past 24 years of reconnecting and remembering within the expanse of Papahānaumokuākea, our knowledge and understanding has grown immensely. Our eldest kūpuna; the islands, reefs, plants and animals have taught us many lessons pertaining to resource management, while adding to rich layers of understanding of our histories, heroes, ritual protocols, and ceremonies while nurturing the idea of limitless possibilities in transforming the many dimensions of our Hawaiian world.

Papahānaumokuākea has been the ancestral source of inspiration that has been seeding initiatives, programs, organizations, and businesses that circle back to renew Papahānaumokuākea.

Today, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) Cultural Working Group (CWG) collectively represents the legacy of this place that has sprouted and taken root. Though it is not a complete list, the following are some examples of the branches that stem from, or have contributed to, the genealogy of Papahānaumokuākea.

The Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation possesses a high level of Hawaiian cultural knowledge and skills relating to land and resource practices as well as cultural site restoration, protocol, and ritual. They are instrumental and foundational in Hawaiʻi’s contemporary understanding of history and ancestral knowledge.

Huliauapaʻa is a nonprofit organization that provides training, community engagement and advocacy in combination with Nohopapa Hawaiʻi which is focused on research and compliance projects. Their Wahi Kupuna Internship program trains and cultivates the next generation of conscious cultural resource managers, while their Kaliʻuokapaʻakai community of practice advocates for change in cultural resource management. Both organizations have done research and provided administrative support for PMNM, CWG and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

MARE 488 Kūʻula, a marine science course from UH Hilo, has contributed in leaps and bounds in how institutional research is conducted and applied in management. Its students have gone on to serve in agency positions within the monument, the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources, or hold education and/or community advocacy positions.

HWST 365 Pana Paemoku o Kanaloa, a Hawaiian studies course from UH Mānoa has provided an important historical overview of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, as well as covering modern issues today. Students from these classes also feed into different organizations and agencies in resource management.

Nā Maka Onaona, whose beginnings sprouted out of the Kūʻula course from UH Hilo, has led intertidal research creating an innovative fishery model while providing tools to support communities in indigenous literacy.

And within the CWG, our Nomenclature Hui continues to push the agenda in resetting and reclaiming fundamental and familial relationships with the world around us. We also take tremendous pride in Mai Ka Pō Mai, which serves as a guiding document and sets a foundation for Indigenous cultures and values to contribute to contemporary structures of management.

We are farmers, fishermen, fishpond keepers, rock wall builders, researchers, policy makers, community gatherers and advocates, and also voyagers that sail our ocean highways.

Deep and abundant is the knowledge of Papahānaumokuākea. We have only begun on this journey of enlightenment failing and succeeding along the way, but continuously growing. What transformations await us in this realm of limitless possibilities? And what other branches will the roots of Papahānaumokuākea grow? E ola a ola nō!

Kekuewa Kikiloi, Ph.D., and Pelika Andrade, are co-chairs of the Papahānaumokuākea Native Hawaiian Cultural Working Group (CWG). The CWG provides advice and recommendations through OHA to the Monument Management Board. Read Mai Ka Pō Mai at