The last Hawaiian monarch, Queen Lili`uokalani said to her people, “oni pa`a” – stand strong. Last week, around 100 Molokai residents did just that.
The meeting, called Hawaiians Ku`e, called for a return to traditional Hawaiian protocol and a Hawaiian voice to the table when it comes to resource management within the state and county.
“It’s hard to participate when don’t know what you’re participating in,” said Walter Ritte, one of the meeting’s organizers. “We don’t want to participate in [a] haole process.”
The meeting began with `oli kahea, where those invited to speak – Hawaiian or not – asked for permission to enter. This is a simple practice which allowed ancient Hawaiians to coexist in limited spaces, said Ritte.
“Protocol very important if we are to survive on the island of Molokai,” Ritte said. “Us Hawaiians …cannot, will not survive without natural resources.”
Natural resources they hope to protect – such as agricultural land proposed to be used as a wind farm.
The Wind Farm Issue
Representatives from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) as well as wind energy company First Wind shared potential benefits of building a wind farm on Molokai.
Malama Minn of DBEDT said she understood Oahu is a huge load, but because entire state is energy inefficient and oil dependent, residents throughout the state must help each other out.
However, many in the audience didn’t agree with their specific ideologies.
“What is Oahu doing about this situation? At what point will Oahu take responsibility for its own system,” asked resident Jane Lee.
“It is by no means a done deal,” said Kekoa Kaluhiwa, director of external affairs for First Wind, referring to a wind farm on Molokai. “It has to be pono, be beneficial to the community. [But] we’re looking down the barrel of a gun.”
Teri Waros, owner of Kalele Bookstore and Divine Expressions, said she didn’t want scare tactics of global warming pushing her decision.
“I want the truth, I want to know my options,” she said. “I want to know what kupuna think; how long the process would take, [and] what the government will do in the meantime.”
One gentleman said the `Aha Ki`ole council would be the best emissary for the wind issue.
“We first need to decide whether we will negotiate or not; if it’s good, then go ahead, if not, go away,” he said. “Don’t go dangle benefits.”
Molokai has become the state leader in the `Aha Ki`ole council, using Mo`omomi as a model of sustainable, local resource management. `Aha Ki`ole councils were created to organize a return to ancient Hawaiian resource management. “Galvanized” from a federal mandate three years ago, each island has an`Aha Ki`ole group which represents the island’s moku, or districts.
Karen Poepoe and `Opu`ulani Albino were on-hand to share more of the the council’s purpose and ideology, as well as to beseech the island for more participation.
“It’s time for Molokai to make its move [because] it’s us that’s going to protect our resources,” Poepoe said. “[The council] is the potential for us to be heard on any number of issues.”
Ritte said the meeting’s attendance was beyond his expectations in terms of turnout – and hopes to see more participation.
“Each and every one of you was born with a kuleana,” he said. “Protecting resources for our future generations…you cannot expect [anyone] else to do it.
“On the island of Molokai, that’s our number one concern, other islands mostly gave up – their resources depleted and [they have] no idea how to get back,” he added. But here, “it’s our economic pillar – we depend on natural resources to supplement our economy.”
For now, however, Ritte said he is done participating in the state’s process, and called for a boycott of this week’s state-run meeting about the undersea cable and potential wind farms.
“Molokai has something [the state] needs – the ball is in our court,” he said. “Right away kamakani (the wind) is opening doors for us.”
Molokai’s Moku – `Aha Ki`ole represenatives
Ko`olau – Ruth Manu and Judy Caparida
Halawa – Pilipo Solatorio
Mana`e – Bronson Kalipi
Kawela (including Kaunakakai) – Merv Dudoit
Pala`au (including Kualapu`u, Ho`olehua, Kalae, Kalamaula, Mahana) – Wayde Lee Maunaloa – Maunaloa – Byron Espaniola