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Apr 09, 2015

Kahoʻolawe Huakaʻi


QLT special projects manager Kehau Harrison joined outreach/resource specialist Mike Ikeda and the Aha Kane men’s group on a four-day huaka’i to the island of Kaho’olawe with the Protect Kaho’olawe ʻOhana (PKO).  Dr. Noa Emmet Aluli, chairman of the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC), along with volunteer students from Mililani High School and the Edith Kanaka’ole Foundation (Huihui Kanahele-Mossman) also joined the huakaʻi.  The group was transported to Kahoʻolawe by fishing boats from Kihei and Maalaea boat ramps on Maui, across the seven-mile ʻAlalākeiki channel, and then by zodiacs to the shores of Hakioawa on the northeastern end of island. Upon landing, they implemented ceremony and protocol to show respect and to create awareness between place, people and things. 

The group volunteered to mālama ʻāina by giving of their physical labor – pulling weeds, weed wacking, and setting stones at the trail’s edges – along the Ala Loa Trail, a path connecting 12 ʻili (land subdivisions) around the entire island.  The goal is to complete the circle trail in time for the makahiki ceremonies in October when prayers are offered for light rain and harvest.  Others cleared weeds at the pā hula and hale o Papa (women’s house). 

The Aha Kane – formed to increase awareness and empower Native Hawaiian men to fulfill their roles and responsibilities within their families and communities – has been mapping the island’s hale mua (ancient Hawaiian men’s house) site under the guidance and supervision of one of its members, archaeologist Keone Kalawe.  On the March 20th Spring Equinox, the men observed the sun’s rays over Haleakalā and confirmed that the hale mua’s east and west cornerstones were in alignment with the rising sun, separating the Kane and Kanaloa skies – demonstrating how ancient Hawaiians were aware of the sun’s rotation, seasons, solstices and equinoxes, and providing one more clue as to the function and purpose of this important structure. 

The group was able to tour the island on foot and see many of its archaeological treasures.  Kahoʻolawe has an inventory of over 3,000 historic sites and features, suggesting Hawaiians came to Kaho’olawe as early as 400 A.D.  It was an agricultural center and site for religious and cultural ceremonies, and has the second largest adze quarry in the Hawaiian islands.

Kahoʻolawe is designated as a State of Hawaiʻi cultural reserve and can only be visited by clean-up volunteers, members and guests of PKO, native Hawaiians, and military personnel.  Access is coordinated through KIRC, established in 1993 to manage the island reserve while it is held in trust for a future Native Hawaiian Sovereignty entity.  KIRC coordinates environmental restoration and provides safe use of Kaho’olawe for traditional and cultural practices.  Mahalo nui loa to Dr. Davianna McGregor for coordinating this huakaʻi access! 

“It was truly an honor to be invited to join PKO and contribute to the restoration of this sacred island,” said Kehau Harrison.  “An experience of a lifetime.”

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