Ka Wai Ola

Dan Ahuna, Vice Chair, Trustee, Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau

OHA has been a longtime advocate of rectifying the issue of mismanagement of Mauna Kea, taking exhaustive steps to track and document decades of State of Hawai‘i (mis) management of the mauna. OHA has repeatedly called for the protection of indigenous traditions and practices as well as natural and cultural sites, culminating in a lawsuit against the State of Hawai‘i and University of Hawai‘i regarding Mauna Kea mismanagement.

Today these more formal legal and public policy efforts have been extended by our lahui to more informal and much more authentically indigenous means of expressing our dissatisfaction with the current imposition the mauna faces by those in positions of structural power who have no true connection and reciprocity with the mauna. Given this mixture of structural power and lack of true connection and reciprocity with the mauna it is no wonder decisions have been made that abuse its sacredness.

The saddest part of the issue is that the solutions to the mismanagement of the mauna have been known and publicly expressed for as long as there has been a Mauna Kea “issue”. In actuality, the solutions have been known and lived by our people inherently since the first of our kind arrived on these shores thousands of years ago. This alludes to only one thing, the DISMISSIVNESS OF OUR VOICE and the complete lack of connection and TRUE RECIPROCITY WITH PLACE. If the solutions to this problem are as old as our presence in these islands and we continue to express them, yet nothing is being done to solve the problem, the issue is that the State of Hawaii and the University of Hawaii continue to hear us, acknowledge that they do hear us, but JUST DON’T CARE. This lack of caring and indignity by those in positions of structural power is oppression, negligence, and racism in action and it extends far beyond our protection of just one mauna. On the Mauna Kea issue alone, however, the State of Hawai‘i has heard loud and clear what the solutions are and yet still choose to ignore the voice of the indigenous people for five decades and counting. On countless other culturally and ecologically relevant issues the State of Hawaii has ignored the indigenous people’s voice for far longer than that.

Getting to the root of our unrest is not complex. The solutions are easy to understand and have been voiced on many occasions. The State of Hawai‘i has only to acknowledge that the indigenous peoples’ mana‘o is valued and will be implemented. This is very easy to do! Kanaka Maoli collective dignity is at stake and there is nothing more meaningful than dignity. As difficult as it is for some who are propped up by structural power to fully grasp and know for themselves, Kanaka Maoli dignity is born from a SENSE AND KNOWING OF PLACE that is one with ourselves, where it is our humble honor to ensure that place and people coexist in true reciprocity.

May those who are disconnected from place come to understand the fullness that we who are connected feel—for they will surely come to love it; and give them the strength to seek true reciprocity with our ‘āina.

Kū Kia‘i Mauna