Nā Leo O Ka Lāhui

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Dan Ahuna, Vice Chair, Trustee, Kauaʻi and Niʻihau

Aloha ʻāina kākou,

Nā leo o ka lāhui – the many voices of our people – represent the differing views and lived experiences that comprise our lāhui. Our differing views and lived experiences can act as our greatest strength when our pilina is rooted in aloha. Whether it be the aloha we have for our ʻohana, the lāhui, or our kulāiwi, the gift of being Kānaka ʻŌiwi is our prolific capacity to give and receive aloha.

When discussing issues impacting our lāhui, we can ascertain the best interest of our people when nā leo o ka lāhui are uplifted in aloha. Too often, our voices are silenced in an effort to disempower us as Kānaka ʻŌiwi. Yet ka wā mamua – the past – orients us in our present by providing insight into our truth as a people: we are strengthened in our aloha for one another. This encompasses the aloha we have for our kūlaiwa.

Iwi kūpuna and moepū, for example, belong to the ʻāina but repeatedly are disinterred in the interest of development. While it’s imperative that iwi kūpuna and moepū remain interred, projects like the rebuilding of the Coco Palms hotel remain ongoing even as nā leo o ka lāhui advocate for the preservation of such a sacred site. Our need to be heard distinctly correlates to our need to preserve our ʻāina as the rebuilding of the Coco Palms hotel endangers ancient burial grounds containing iwi kūpuna and moepū as well as an ancient wetland system. The egregious harm endured by iwi kūpuna and moepū in addition to the environmental degradation wrought by development is profoundly detrimental. In considering nā leo o ka lāhui, the voices of iwi kūpuna and moepū must be heard.

Kāhua O Kāneiolouma, a cultural site with sacred heiau and an ancient Hawaiian village, contains hale sites, fishponds, taro fields, auwai irrigation systems, and a makahiki arena dating back to the mid 1400s. While developers seek to exploit our ʻāina for profit, the allocation of resources towards the restoration of cultural sites like Kāhua O Kāneiolouma would align with the voices advocating for the preservation – not the exploitation – of our ʻāina. In considering nā leo o ka lāhui, the voice of cultural sites like Kāhua O Kāneiolouma must be heard.

Mauna a Wākea, the first born mountain son of Papa and Wākea, endures ongoing desecration in the interest of development. We as Kānaka ʻŌiwi know, however, of the sacredness of our Mauna and the importance of rising in aloha as kiaʻi. In considering nā leo o ka lāhui, the voice of Mauna a Wākea must be heard.

Wai, integral to our physical and spiritual wellbeing, is polluted and often diverted in the interest of tourism. Yet we know that wai defines our place across the pae ʻāina, assists us in caring for kalo as our elder brother, and ensures our survival as a people. In considering nā leo o ka lāhui, the voice of wai must be heard.

In a myriad of ways, what’s in the best interest of our kūlaiwi – as our mother and as our kupuna – is in our best interest. Our aloha we share for each other is but a mirror of the aloha we share for her. In rooting our pilina in aloha, we connect ourselves back together as one with our kūlaiwi ensuring our success as a people now and to come.