News Briefs | August 2022

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$5 Million for the Kalaupapa Memorial

Photo: Kalaupapa Memorial Signing Ceremony
At a June 29 ceremony, Gov. David Ige signed SB3338 to appropriate $5 million to build a memorial at Kalaupapa. Championed by Ka ʻOhana O Kalaupapa, the planned memorial will list the names of the nearly 8,000 people forcibly removed from their homes and isolated at Kalaupapa due to leprosy (Hansen’s Disease). Behind Gov. Ige (seated) are (l-r): Valerie Monson, Ka ʻOhana executive director; UH President David Lassner; Sen. Brian Taniguchi; Danette Wong Tomiyasu, DOH deputy director of Health Resources; DeGray Vanderbilt, Ka ʻOhana legislative liaison; Hitoshi Hida, memorial architect; Sen. Lynn DeCoite; Kalaupapa descendant Nainoa Woodward and his grandparents, Margaret and Aaron Wong. The photographs are of late Kalaupapa leaders Bernard Punikaiʻa, Boogie Kahilihiwa and Kuʻulei Bell. – Photo: Office of Governor David Ige

ʻŌpio Build a Traditional Hale in Hauʻula

Photo: Hauʻula community members gathered to bless the new hale
Hauʻula community members gathered to bless the new hale on July 9. – Photo: HILT

In July, 18 youth from the rural Oʻahu community of Hauʻula built a traditional Hawaiian hale at the Maunawila Heiau Complex – the first traditional hale built in Hauʻula in a century. The ʻōpio are part of Maunawila ʻŌpio Mālama ʻĀina, a summer internship program run by the Hawaiʻi Land Trust (HILT).

This year the program focus was Kūkulu: building hale, building community and building stronger connections to ʻāina. Held each year, the program was created to teach wahi kūpuna stewardship practices to high school students and young adults who live in the Koʻolauloa area.

The five-week program also included removing invasive plants, trail maintenance, archaeology, planting, learning moʻolelo, oli and pule, archaeological features management, and a three-day huakaʻi to HILT’s Waiheʻe Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge on Maui.

Tiana Henderson, CEO of IndigeniUS Minds, led the hale build along with master hale builder Uncle Francis Palani Sinenci. The hale will be used as a communal space for the community, an outdoor classroom for students from Hauʻula Elementary, and other school and educational groups. Program support was provided by the City and County of Honolulu, the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, Hawaiʻi Community Foundation, Southwest Airlines and private funders.

HILT is a statewide nonprofit that protects, stewards, and connects people to the lands that sustain Hawaiʻi.

Lawsuit Filed to Clean Kīkīaola Harbor

Nā Kiaʻi Kai and Surfrider Foundation, represented by Earthjustice, filed a federal lawsuit against the County of Kauaʻi and the director of the Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) in July.

The groups say the state and the county failed to abide by a federal court order requiring a Clean Water Act permit to discharge polluted water into Kīkīaola Harbor. The lawsuit seeks to protect subsistence fishing grounds, surf breaks, and other recreational areas from continued contamination.

Nā Kiaʻi Kai member Lawrence Kapuniai’s family has been fishing along the West Kauaʻi shoreline for generations. “This ocean is our icebox. That is why we are demanding this new permit to control the pollution dumped into our ocean.”

In 2019, the U.S. District Court ruled that discharging pollution into the ocean from the Mānā Plain’s plantation-era drainage ditch system, including from the Kīkīaola Harbor Drain, requires a federal permit under the Clean Water Act.

The county has applied for the required permit, but the DOH has refused to acknowledge its legal duty to process the application, let alone commit to issuing a permit for the Kīkīaola discharges.

The harbor drain discharges untreated waters contaminated with sediment and other pollutants into the nearshore waters at Kīkīaola Harbor during heavy rains. Water quality testing in the harbor drain has detected elevated levels of turbidity, diesel, and enterococcus bacteria.

33 More Acres in Hāna Permanently Protected

Photo: Aerial view of Mokae II
Aerial view of Mokae II on the Hāna Coastline. – Photo: HILT

Hāna-based nonprofit Ke Ao Hāliʻi, in partnership with the state, Maui County, and Hawaiʻi Land Trust (HILT), announced that an additional 33 acres along the Hāna coast are now permanently protected as part of an effort to conserve over 150 acres along 1.5 miles of coastline stretching from Hāmoa Beach at Mokae to Makaʻalae Point and Waioka Pond.

Purchasing, permanently protecting, and stewarding the coastline just south of Hāna Town was a community initiative. These lands are critical to preserving Maui’s food-producing lands, open spaces, and bio-cultural resources.

Maui County contributed $2,469,300, while the State Legacy Land Conservation Program (LLCP) contributed $1,194,000. HILT and Ke Ao Hāliʻi also raised private funds, and community members donated in-kind services.

The project is a cooperative effort by Hāna Ranch Partners, the County of Maui’s Open Space Program, the LLCP, HILT, and the Hāna community. This acquisition represents the third phase of the project. One final phase remains to complete the 20-year effort.

“The conservation easement will prohibit subdivision and development, protect Indigenous ocean food systems and Hawaiian gathering practices, support local agriculture, and maintain community access in perpetuity,” said Laura Kaʻakua, HILT president and CEO.

Communities statewide are encouraged to learn more about their county’s open space program and the State of Hawaiʻi LLCP, which work collaboratively to protect Hawaiʻi’s natural and cultural resources through land conservation acquisition initiatives.

Applicants Sought for Oʻahu Watershed Project

Nonprofit Oʻahu Resource Conservation and Development Council (Oʻahu RC&D) is accepting applications from North Shore farmers and ranchers within the Kiʻikiʻi and Paukauila watersheds to help implement conservation practices to improve farm resilience and watershed health.

Farms selected in the first round of the competitive application process were awarded over $36,000 and will co-invest more than $18,000 of their own resources towards practices that improve water quality and benefit the ecology of streams, estuaries and nearshore waters.

Oʻahu RC&D has collaborated with the state Department of Health (DOH) and Oʻahu farmers to improve water quality and restore watershed health for the past decade.

The Kiʻikiʻi and Paukauila stream systems collect sediment and pollutants as they move through central Oʻahu, draining over 37,400 acres into Kaiaka Bay. The watersheds are geographically bound in the coastal plains of Waialua and Haleʻiwa, where clay-like soils and heavy rainfall cause flooding and poor drainage. The need for flood impact mitigation and reduction in sediment load throughout these watersheds is a priority issue. Farmers play a critical role in stewarding the land through conservation planning and the implementation of conservation practices.

Oʻahu RC&D is accepting applications until 4:00 p.m. on August 15. For more information or to apply go to: oahurcd.org/kiikii-and-paukauila-watershed/.

Helping Kūpuna Get Online

A new printed and online directory of classes, programs, and online and technical support to help kūpuna use their devices to access the internet is now available at Hawaiʻi public libraries, county aging offices and online at hiphi.org/kupuna-digital-inclusion-workgroup/.

AARP Hawaiʻi and the Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute created the Kūpuna Digital Resource Directory and the Hawaiʻi Digital Inclusion Roadmap to help more kūpuna go online.

“The pandemic taught us that it’s vital that kūpuna know how to go online. They need to be able to access healthcare services, talk to friends and family on Zoom, take virtual classes, and get access to news and government services that have moved online,” said Kealiʻi Lopez, AARP Hawaiʻi state director.

Although 77.4% of Hawaiʻi’s kūpuna have computer access and broadband internet at home, those living in rural areas still face obstacles – particularly the lack of high-speed broadband connectivity. In addition to the lack of connectivity, fears of new technology, concerns about online scams, and affordability contribute to the digital divide.

“We hope the Digital Inclusion Roadmap will guide policymakers and nonprofits that work with kūpuna in applying for federal funding and other grants to address digital inequity,” said Kayla Carlisle, one of the authors of the report.

Kapūkakī in the News

On July 13, a hui of health professionals delivered a letter to Admiral John C. Aquilino, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command urging more humane treatment of individuals whose drinking water was contaminated by the November 2021 fuel leak from the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.

Despite assurances from Navy officials that their water is safe, families living in housing served by the Navy’s water system continue to report fuel-like odors and visible sheens in their tap water, as well as ongoing health issues such as skin irritation, headaches, nausea or vomiting, fatigue and dizziness. Many of their pets have also suffered sudden illnesses and terminal cancers in the past few months.

Navy officials continue to deny any knowledge of recent “medical encounters…related to water concerns.” Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi and others are calling on the Navy to reassess its water testing protocols.

The letter demands that the Navy take “swift action” to acknowledge the ongoing contamination concerns and to provide affected families with access to safe water and housing as well as appropriate medical and mental health care. It also demands immediate, transparent, and concrete assurances from the Navy that the defueling of Kapūkakī will be treated as an existential emergency.

PIDF Appoints Four ʻŌiwi Leaders to Their Board

Nonprofit Partners in Development Foundation (PIDF) announced the appointment of four community leaders to its 10-member board of directors. All board directors are Native Hawaiian and provide strategic guidance to PIDF.

The new board members are Elwin Ahu, pastor of Metro Church of Hawaiʻi; Kawena Beaupré, senior VP and general counsel at Hawaiʻi Community Foundation; Summer Kaiawe, partner at Watanabe Ing, LLP; and Scott Seu, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries.

The Board of Directors continues the legacy that founders Jan Dill, Morris Takushi, and the late Gary Glenn began in 1997 to address the gaps in Hawaiʻi’s society and support families in need.

PIDF draws on ʻike kupuna, ancestral wisdom and knowledge, to support the needs of economically vulnerable keiki and ʻohana. PIDF delivers 10 free programs and services across the state including early childhood education and mentorship, opportunity youth and foster care services, and caring for the ʻāina, guided by time-tested values and practices that honor kuleana for people and place in caring for Hawaiʻi.

OHA’s First Grant Award Cycle Completed

Photo: Safe Harbor Program
A $220,000 community grant to support the Hoʻokākoʻo Corporation’s “Ke Awa Hoʻomalu (Safe Harbor)” program is one of three education-focused grant awards announced in late June by OHA. The grant will increase access for Native Hawaiian children and their families to Hawaiian culture-based educational, behavioral, and mental health services. Ke Awa Hoʻomalu will be implemented at Kualapuʻu Preschool and Elementary on Molokaʻi and Waimea Middle School on Hawaiʻi Island. Awards in the Community Grants – Education and ʻAhahui Grants categories totaling more than $600,000, are the first OHA grant awards to be announced this year. – Photo: Courtesy