The Department of Hawaiian Homelands announced recently that it will install a gate to restrict vehicle access to Mo’omomi on Molokai’s north shore. The hope is that this gate will prevent overfishing and vandalism in the area.
Homesteaders who wish to camp or visit Mo`omomi will be able to pick up the gate key from the DHHL office and keep it for up to a week. They will be responsible for damages or vandalism to the area while they hold the key. While homesteaders will have first priority, if a key is available other people will be allowed to visit as well.
The cause for this gate is the actions of irresponsible visitors who vandalized the pavilion building, ripped out toilets and damaged native plants with four-wheel drive vehicles.
Kupuna remember the day when access to Mo’omomi was gated and those who held the key took responsibility for the area. While some homesteaders support this action, others, such as Yama Kaholoaa, believe access should not be restricted.
By Yama Kaholoaa Sr.
This letter is in regards to the issue of installing a gate at Mo’omomi. This letter is referred directly to Mr. Halealoha Ayau, acting district manager to DHHL Molokai District, and also those who are in support for Mo’omomi to be gated.
We, as beneficiaries and Native Hawaiians, and also those who will be entitled to become beneficiaries, strongly oppose this illegal, immature, childish action that infringes on our Native Hawaiian rights.
We honor, remember and remain true to self-determination and self-governance as our core principles deeply embedded in our Hawaiian culture. They emanate from the Hawaiian code of Kanawai Mamalahoe, “the law of the splintered paddle,” created by Kamehameha I, to shield his people from the potential harm of aggressive rule by leaders.
It was Kamehameha’s way of saying, “You have every right to defend yourselves against ali’i like myself and others that might abuse their power.” The Kanawai is enshrined in the 1978 State Constitution, Article 9, and has become a model for modern human rights law.
Under the Kanawai Mamalahoe structure, communities self govern based on natural land divisions and the ahupua’a system. This guarantees that all those residing within these boundaries would receive a fair, equitable share in the rights, privileges and benefits that are essential for a self-sufficient and comfortable life.
When governance and self-determination are honored at the ahupua’a level, those most directly impacted by decisions within their ahupua’a are best assured that they will have sufficient land for residency and cultivation, fresh water sources, shoreline and open ocean access. It is the local kuleana, more than anyone else, to ensure the ola, the continued life, of their land and water.
In this system of legitimate self-governance based on the ahupua’a system, we as Hawaiians practice aloha (respect), laulima (cooperation) and malama (stewardship), which result in a desirable pono (balance). The ahupua’a and its local self-governance principles are the fundamental cornerstone of Hawaiian self-determination.
When each ahupua’a honors, defends and puts into action the kanawai and ahupua’a principles, we as Kanaka Maoli and the future of our posterity are protected.
We believe — as Ho’olehua homesteaders and beneficiaries who live directly within the ahupua’a’s natural boundaries as they were created long before us — that we must be the ultimate decision makers of what is pono for our land, water, natural resources and our local families. It’s not for a few to decide for us.
We will do so in the spirit of vigilant cooperation and careful consideration, with those who demonstrate active alignment with the principles of kanawai, aloha, laulima and pono. A Western solution to a Hawaiian problem, such as a gate, is not pono and will not solve anything. If anything, it will make things worse.