HILO – Pualani Kanaka’ole Kanahele testified before the University of Hawaii Board of Regents in Hilo on Sunday, educating the officials on Mauna Kea, Ka’ohe, and the religious and cultural significance of the land to Native Hawaiians.
Regents held the special meeting to hear from the public regarding the management of Mauna Kea by the university, which holds a master lease on the summit from the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The recent outcry over the planned construction of Thirty Meter Telescope on the northern plateau on the sacred mountain prompted the meeting.
Kanahele is part of Hilo’s highly respected Kanaka’ole ohana of kumu hula and cultural practitioners. She is recognized across Hawaii, especially for her work during the annual Merrie Monarch Festival, where she interprets the meaning behind the hula performances for the TV broadcast.
Of the Ka’ohe lands, which include Mauna Kea, Kanahele said it is well understood by Hawaiians as the “place where we will find water, always.” She said Hawaiians were not surprised by a recent water find at Pohakuloa, “because we believe in the words of our ancestors. They say this is Ka’ohe, this is Ka’ohe to us.”
“That’s what we are fighting for,” Kanahele told regents. “This is our soul. This is our way of life. This is not our job; we don’t earn money from doing this. But for generations after generations after generations… we will continue to do what we are doing here to today.”