HAWAII – The recent high lava stand at Kilauea volcano seemed to coincide with the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s recently concluded World Conservation Congress, held last week on Oahu.
The multi-national gathering, which helps shape the direction of conservation and sustainable development, showcased Hawaii’s unique environment on the global stage, including the islands’ cultural connection to the volcano.
That connection was featured during the opening ceremony. It was also a central theme in Dr. Pualani Kanaka’ole Kanahele’s talk, delivered during a high-level conference discussion entitled “Connections: Spirituality and Conservation.”
“Year after year and year,” Kanahele told the audience, “the chants that our ancestors composed generations ago, come back to us. The same kind of eruptions.”
“As fire people, we need to know a lot about the volcano,” Kanahele continued. “We talk a lot with the scientists of the volcano and exchange ideas. Because some of the things that’s in our chants; we don’t understand. And we don’t see the imagery as well as we should. So we go back to the scientists, we have a conversation with them, we translate this literally, and we know exactly what its talking about. And so it comes alive for us again.”
“We have a nice relationship with the scientists,” Kanahele added. “Or, with some of them.”