The second of four moku, or district, meetings of the ‘Aha Ki’ole O Molokai took place last night at the Mitchell Pau’ole Center.
Mervin Dudoit, representative of the Kawela Moku, which covers the area between Kaunakakai and Kamalo, welcomed and thanked about 50 people in attendance. Kamalu Poepoe, po’o alaka’i (second in charge) for the ‘Aha, then presented an overview of the group’s history and mission.
Guided by traditional Hawaiian practices, known as the konohiki system, the ‘Aha offered its leadership on resource management issues when a tourism boat controversy recently divided the community.
But before protestors were blocking Kaunakakai Harbor to prevent the Safari Explorer from docking, the ‘Aha Ki’ole had taken on other issues. Although not associated with the boat protests, it was this concern of uncontrolled tourism that gave the ‘Aha an issue to rally around.
Before this, said Poepoe, the group has talked to the state concerning the island’s resistance to the advancement of a Big Wind project on Molokai.
The ‘Aha had also met with the Fisheries Division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources concerning fishing by escort boats in Molokai waters during ocean sports events. Poepoe said they have been successful in working with the leadership within the canoe associations to prevent overfishing.
The problem with the cruise boats arose out of fear, said Poepoe. “Mistakes were made on both sides,” she said. Poepoe said the local businesses acted out of a “fear of bringing this to a community that might have resistance.” People in the community acted out of “fear that the harbor would be compromised.” Others, said Poepoe, “had fear that the boat would come and they would never have a chance to speak about it.”
In discussing the role of the ‘Aha, Poepoe said, “there is no other vehicle of its type that can gather the voices of the community.”
Membership registration forms and other literature from the ‘Aha were available. To be eligible for membership, an individual must be 18 years old and show at least two years of full time residence on Molokai.
Poepoe said the’Aha can support local businesses, “but this doesn’t mean we turn into Kihei.” If we are going to develop business, “We have to make sure our resources, our ‘aina, stays the way it is.”
The mission statement for ‘Aha Ki’ole O Molokai is: “Through our efforts to protect and preserve the resources of Molokai, our future generations will always have enough.”
The three essential stated objectives of the ‘Aha Ki’ole:
1. Whatever issues arise, we must always choose in favor of protecting and preserving our resources; and conversely, whatever issues jeopardize the resources of our ‘aina we will oppose; and we will seek to follow the intent of our mission.
2. We will adapt the essential elements of the Konohiki system into Molokai resource management effort. Those elements — which include monitoring, regulating, limiting and replenishing, according to Molokai’s own ecosystem needs — will be used to maintain the health of our island resources.
3. We will direct our feelings and actions in a way that always shows goodwill and consideration for the resources, ‘aina and community of Molokai. We will not use the resources of Molokai to seek advantages for self-gain or for selfish purposes. However, we will support any gathering practices that, a) do not cause harm to the balance of the ecosystem, and, b) are sanctioned by the Konohiki management system.
After a review of the mission, those in attendance were then asked to share their mana’o in the form of post-it notes placed under five posters: land use, tourism, ocean use, other, and cruise ships. All comments had to be signed to receive consideration.
Poepoe said full names were also required on the survey distributed through the community regarding the boat tourism issue. While Poepoe said the general sentiment from the surveys showed an opposition to tour boats, the exact results of the survey are not yet available.
The written comments from this meeting and the other three meetings — North Shore and Mana’e Na Moku, Pala’au Moku and Kaluako’I Moku — will be compiled into a document. Through future meetings, these will be refined and used as a planning document within the Molokai Community Plan, scheduled to be updated by the Maui County Planning Department this year.
An open microphone was then available for making public comments. Hawaiiloa Mowat talked about restoring the island by planting trees to help conserve soil. He also talked about the danger to the coral reef caused by large ships passing through it.
Kanoe Davis reiterated many of Mowat’s concerns regarding the south-facing forests of Molokai and its delicate fringed reef. She discussed maintaining our cultural resources by listening to the community elders. “We need to listen to the mo’olelo of our kupuna.” She then challenged the community to step forward to work for Molokai’s preservation. “I’m ready to work and give back to my moku, are you?”