HILO, Hawaii – P.U.E.O., participating in the contested case over the permit to build the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, began to present its case on Wednesday when the organization’s president took the witness stand.
Shadd Keahi Warfield has been the public face of P.U.E.O. since it was formed earlier this year to provide an alternative Native Hawaiian perspective towards the development of astronomy on the mountain. P.U.E.O. stands for Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities.
Warfield is well known in Keaukaha as a kumu, guiding youth programs and working at Palekai, home to the Hōkūalakaʻi canoe.
For the past 36 years of my life, Maunakea and Maunaloa have always been in clear View to the west of my home located in the Keaukaha community. Keaukaha is the second oldest native Hawaiian community in the State of Hawai‘i as defined by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920. I am a child of native Hawaiian parents and a current beneficiary of a one-acre parcel just two houses away from where I was raised as a child.
Having been the youngest of four children, it was at an early age that we were fortunate to have been exposed to the many wonders of Hawai‘i Island. Our upbringing consisted of working in the yard, fishing, camping, hunting and visiting our only surviving grand parent who lived in Holualoa, Kona. “Kona Grandma”, as we called her was a retired teacher who was raised in the beautiful Hawaiian bay of Waiuha in Kaupo, island of Maui. Kona Grandma instilled in each of us the importance of being educated and shared many stories of our ancestors and especially of her upbringing that was very primitive. As a native speaker of the Hawaiian language, we witnessed first hand an older language that was slowly moving into extinction. It is my personal connection to Kona Grandma that I have taken on the responsibility of becoming an educator for native Hawaiian and local youth by learning the Hawaiian Language and by revitalizing Hawaiian culture in all domains that are open minded to its implementation.
There are many concerns as to the future of Hawai‘i, its natural resources, and how culture and science can coexist. I know for a fact that culture and science can co-exist because we are currently doing it. I am most concerned for the educational opportunities of our children and strengthening positive self-esteem and cultural identity of our youth to foster their dreams and greatest aspirations. I strongly support astronomy on the summit of Maunakea as long as astronomy can commit to an educational outreach partnership through implementing Hawaiian language, culture and practice while strengthening science, mathematics and problem solving within our local communities and especially of our youth.
My connection to Maunakea and Maunaloa is its very presence every morning as I rise. The mountains and the landscapes of Hilo are my motivation for prayer and spirituality constantly reminding me of my goals ahead and how I must concentrate on accomplishing them each day. As many practitioners feel that they are being led by their ancestors to protect the mountain and protests anything on it; in contrast, I am also being led by my kupuna in search of a solution where education and culture can co-exist for the benefit of all people in our island community and throughout the world.
Shadd Keahi Warfield
President, Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities, P.U.E.O.