(BIVN) – Kuʻulei Kanahele explained the importance of the wao akua to the state Land Use Commission when it met in Hilo, as she asked them for a Declaratory Order concerning the land use classification at the summit of Mauna Kea.
The Land Use Commission ultimately voted to deny Kanahele’s request with a 5 to 2 vote.
Kanahele testified before the commission on Friday and answered some of their questions. She also provided this written declaration as a part of her Petition, which was entered into the public record:
I, KUʻULEI HIGASHI KANAHELE, do declare under penalty of law that the following is true and correct.
1. I make this declaration based upon my personal knowledge, information and belief.
2. I am a resident of the island of and county of Hawai‘i.
3. I am more than eighteen years of age.
4. I am one of the Petitioners in the above captioned proceedings concerning the improper use of approximately 525 acres of State Land Use Conservation District lands located in Mauna Kea and Hilo, County of Hawai’i, Tax Map Key No.: 4-4-015:009 (por.) (“de facto industrial use precinct”).
5. These lands have meaning for myself and my family.
6. I am married to Petitioner AHIENA KANAHELE.
7. We live on Hawaiian Home Lands in Panaewa.
8. I have never requested or been granted a contested case hearing on my interests and rights in lands on Maunakea.
9. I am a Native Hawaiian descended from the peoples who inhabited the Hawaiian archipelago prior to 1778, and a traditional and customary practitioner.
10. My cultural practices involve Hawaiian religion/spirituality (Papakū Makawalu) through hula and oli.
11. I learned hula and oli from Hālau O Kekuhi, the hālau hula and center of cultural knowledge for the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation.
12. I was a chant/ oli student of Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele for several years.
13. Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele is my mother-in-law, kumu hula and kumu oli, and Papakū Makawalu mentor.
14. I am the lead Papahulihonua (earth science) researcher with the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation.
15. My primary duty is to interpret traditional Hawaiian chants to understand how our ancestors lived and thrived in our island environment. Understanding traditional chants is important because chants document centuries of environmental observations and is the method our ancestors used to record that information.
16. In 1813, Kamehameha III, Kauikeaouli, was born and to honor this occasion, a chant was composed to highlight Kauikeaouli’s lineage. Hawaiian royal lineage begins with the creation of the world and such is the case in Kauikeaouli’s birth chant. In his chant, night was born first because darkness is a necessary component for gestation and growth. Out of this darkness was born Hawai‘i Island, the sacred firstborn of all land. Daylight was born next and with it, the birth of clouds and the atmosphere. The birth of daylight and clouds together shows our ancestors’ understanding of hydrology in the islands in that the sun’s heat is a causative of the formation of clouds.
17. After daylight, ka mauna a Kea (the mountain of Kea) is born. Ka mauna a Kea, commonly known as Maunakea, is born of the gods, Wākea (sky) and Papa (earth). Kauikeaouli’s genealogy chant is a confirmation of Maunakea’s sacredness in the Hawaiian mind – Maunakea is born of gods, the same gods who will later be the progenitor of the Hawaiian race. From this stems the Hawaiian belief that Maunakea is an ancestor to the Hawaiian people.
18. The sacredness of Maunakea does not lie only in the fact that Maunakea is descended from the gods Papa and Wākea. Maunakea’s summit touches the atmosphere and stands in the wao akua (god zone) where our gods are found. Hawaiian akua (gods) are not invisible spiritual beings, Hawaiian akua are the physical elements that give life — water, snow, mist, etc. The summit of Maunakea is sacred it is a wao akua where water, snow, and mist are found, far removed from the wao kanaka (human zone). To protect this wao akua and keeps its elements pristine, our ancestors designated the summit as sacred and limited access to a select few, who were only able to access the summit for specific reasons.
19. In my practices, Maunakea is the wao akua that captures and supplies Hawai‘i island with water.
20. Maunakea is responsible for gathering, storing and distributing the water on Hawaiʻi Island. As mentioned in Kauikeaouli’s birth chant, the sun is the causative of cloud formation, but it is Maunakea’s role to attract the clouds to our island. The Kumulipo, Hawai‘i’s cosmological chant, states that Maunakea’s forests then act as pahuwai (storage basins) for the water to collect and recharge the aquifer, hānau ‘o waoma‘ukele, he mau pahukapu.
21. The chant, “E Ō E Maunakea” names specific water gods of Maunakea: Poli‘ahu (snow), Lilinoe (mist), Waiau (lake), and Kalau‘ākolea (fog drip). In essence, Maunakea draws clouds to its summit and the precipitation (in the form of snow, mist, and fog drip) feeds Lake Waiau and our island’s aquifer. This chant, like countless others, speaks of the water cycle and the role that Maunakea plays in it.
22. My traditional and customary practices require the conservation of the Maunakea summit so that it can function as a wao akua.
23. My religion informs me that my akua (deities) are the elements of the earth. Pele is my akua, she is the pele (lava) that creates new land. Wākea is my akua, he is the wākea, the spaces that are “broad, wide, spacious, open, unobstructed”, inclusive of the summit of Maunakea and the atmosphere above it.
24. Industrial development at the summit of Maunakea desecrates the very nature/essence of my akua, by destroying the open, unobstructed space that is characteristic of conservation districts.
25. My practices are injured by encroachments of human activity and construction on the summit areas of Maunakea.
26. Construction, including industrial construction, on the Maunakea summit injures my spiritual practices.
27. I would participate to strongly oppose a proposed boundary amendment to reclassify conservation district lands at the Maunakea summit into the Urban district.
28. Because the proper procedure for proposing industrial development on conservation district lands was not instituted, I was deprived of my ability to protect my traditional and customary practices, right to a clean and healthy environment, and other property rights in public trust lands.
29. There are no other public processes through which I can protect my cultural practices and other interests in the use and future for Maunakea lands.
30. Attached as Exhibit “01” is a true and correct copy of excerpts from the 2018 Annual Report on the status of the implementation of the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP), which was submitted to the State of Hawaiʻi, Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) for their January 25, 2019 meeting, and was downloaded from the BLNR website. See BLNR Agenda Item K-2-1 (Jan. 25, 2019) available [here].
31. Attached as Exhibit “02” is a true and correct copy of the General Lease between BLNR and the University of Hawai‘i, dated January 21, 1968.
32. The lack of sufficient street-lighting, consequent to industrial observatory operations on Mauna Kea, impairs the ability of members of the surrounding community to safely navigate roads in Hawaiʻi county at night. Attached as Exhibie “03” is a true and correct copy of University of Hawai‘i, Institute for Astronomy, “New Lighting Law Protects Observatories,” Na Kilo Héka, No. 23 (2007)…