I was humbled to host OHA’s visit and the Board’s annual meetings on Moloka‘i in August, giving the people of Moloka‘i the chance to share their mana‘o with the Board of Trustees, and being able to highlight some of OHA’s ongoing advocacy and other work with Moloka‘i.
Our meetings began with ‘oli and protocol from the students of Ke Kula Kaiapuni o Kualapu‘u, and when protocol was pau, they transitioned into Moloka‘i Nui A Hina. It was the perfect way to set the tone for our discussions and allowed the keiki to share their pride for Moloka‘i with OHA. Many in the room joined along as the keiki sang:
Ua like no a like
Me ku‘u one hānau
Ke po‘okela i ka piko o nā kuahiwi
Me Moloka‘i nui a Hina
‘Āina i ka wehiwehi
E ho‘i no au e pili
Our meeting continued with scheduled community presentations and community concerns, all addressing wide arrays of concerns for the island. OHA program line staff were on hand for direct follow-up with community members.
The second day of our meetings began with a site visit to the Kauluwai Wells, which was both in follow-up to a presentation the Board previously received from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and in preparation for an additional presentation from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. These presentations regarded preliminary fundings on a decade-long study of groundwater recharge and availability in central and eastern Moloka‘i, funding by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, the Maui Department of Water Supply, and OHA.
This issue is of such importance that OHA’s interim Chief Executive Officer, Sylvia Hussey, Ed.D., submitted comments to the Commission Water Resource Management on the Water Resource Protection Plan (WRPP), stating:
“OHA recognizes that many of the tenets of the OHA Water Policy are also identified as new initiatves and emerging water resources issues to be addressed in the 2019 WRPP update by the Water Commission and its staff. We look forward to the Water Commission’s progress in these areas and to future collaborative opportunities between our agencies.”
“[The study], should upon its publication constitute part of the best available information that can be used to effectively manage groundwater withdrawals from central and eastern Moloka‘i, and to guide long-range plans for any future development of Moloka‘i’s water resources. The study’s final results will be published in the coming months and OHA expects that these results will be able to support a future review of the sustainable yield for the Kualapu‘u aquifer that better accounts for current and future groundwater pumping distribution scenarios across the system.”
OHA’s comments also recognize that wai is central to the Native Hawaiian worldview and who we are as a people, connecting past, present, and future generations. Further, OHA supports Native Hawaiians’ fundamental needs and rights to water for all lands as well as for robust traditional and customary practices throughout Hawai‘i. The site visit was crucial for OHA Trustees and program staff to see firsthand the issues discussed in the report, and I mahalo those at USGS, DHHL, and OHA, who have seen this issue through its long journey.
It was humbling for me to bring the Board of Trustees to Moloka‘i, an island I am proud to call home and an island who has granted me the important kuleana of representing them since 1996. Mahalo Moloka‘i for coming out to make your voices heard.
The Board concludes its neighbor island travels this month with our Hawai‘i Island meetings, hosted by Hawai‘i Island Trustee, Robert K Lindsey Jr, on September 18 and 19.