Protecting our Ocean for the Generations that Follow


Photo: Colin Kippen

Aloha mai kākou,

It is with much aloha – and an appreciation of the possibilities of what we can collectively accomplish – that I am serving as the interim CEO of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). This is a kuleana that I willingly accept, knowing that there is much to be done.

First and foremost, we must build and fortify our connections with one another, with the ‘āina upon which we live, and with those institutions and governments that affect how we live and how we as Hawaiians exist in the world.

This issue of Ka Wai Ola focuses on our connection, as Hawaiians, with Moananuiākea, our traditional ocean realm. The stories shared within examine our familial relationship, as Kānaka Maoli, to the ocean – and our kuleana, along with that of other Indigenous Pacific peoples, to steward and care for it.

Today, our beautiful planet is in crisis and she calls upon us to collectively use our Indigenous knowledge to protect her, to heal her, and to chart a better path moving into the future to ensure our very survival – and the survival of the generations to come.

Our cover story by OHA Interim Federal Public Policy Advocate Kealoha Pisciotta opens with a recitation of our collective genealogical ties to the ocean and a reminder that Hawaiians have always been stewards of our ecosystem with cultural practices that were in harmony with pono resource management. Many of our modern keepers of traditional knowledge and practices are actively involved in preservation and conservation work and efforts to educate and shape ocean policies at the county, state, federal and international levels to protect Moananuiākea using both Indigenous knowledge and western science.

We also feature a story about Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (the Northwestern Hawaiian islands) by Kanoe Morishige and Malia Evans that details its historical and cultural significance to Native Hawaiians – to include our voyaging traditions – its exceptional biodiversity, and efforts to further protect the area by pursuing sanctuary status for the region.

Similarly, Hoku Cody of the National Ocean Protection Coalition writes about the efforts to protect the Pacific Remote Islands (PRI) – a region of ecological importance equal to that of Papahānaumokuākea and nearly as large. Currently under the jurisdiction of the U.S., the PRIs are the nexus of traditional cross-cultural voyaging pathways for the entire Pacific. So while sanctuary status is being sought for the area, so, too, is co-management of the region that includes Indigenous Pacific Islanders.

Our ocean issue is rounded out with articles about the dangerous push towards corporate deep-sea mining, the imminent designation of Kīpahulu in East Maui as a Community Based Subsistance Fishing Area, and an update on Hōkūleʻa’s Moananuiākea voyage.

A common theme throughout these stories is the need to maintain healthy ecosystems, encourage sustainable practices, safeguard cultural practices, and protect our precious Moananuiākea from destructive extractive practices motivated by profit.

We are reminded that our kuleana as Hawaiians is to assert ourselves and take our rightful place in the management, protection and stewardship of this planet alongside other Indigenous Pacific peoples. Our time has come.

Colin Kippen
Ka Pouhana Kūikawā | Interim Chief Executive Officer