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Maui represented in kia`i march to ‘bring all the islands together’ on Saturday

Thousands join march on Front Street

Maui march leader Ke’eaumoku Kapu directs the rally of nearly 1,000 people Saturday. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

LAHAINA — Hundreds took to the streets of Lahaina on Saturday to represent Maui’s support in a statewide show of solidarity with kia’i, or protectors, of Mauna Kea who oppose construction of a telescope at the summit.

Maui march leader Ke’eaumoku Kapu said he was satisfied with the turnout of nearly 1,000 people in Lahaina town. Oahu, Kauai and Molokai also held marches. All would include ‘Aha Ahiahi (protocol) events at 5:30 p.m., synchronized with one held on the Hawaii island mountain.

This demonstration, called “Aloha ‘Aina Kukahi Together We Rise Unity March,” was organized to be “the iconic, historic, designated day to bring all the islands together,” Kapu said after the rally.

March leaders on various islands felt it was an important time to rally because the state government is considering various approaches to end the conflict, he said.

“The state was kind of at the point of trying to resolve the issues of what’s happening with the protectors of (Mauna Kea),” Kapu said. “A lot of us got together, a lot of the leaders from the different islands, saying we need to start setting a precedent to make sure that the State of Hawaii knows that the issue is ongoing . . . so we gotta keep doing these kinds of things to remind the powers that be that we gotta mitigate and meet on how we can resolve these issues.”

Many waited on Front Street, Lahaina, in anticipation of the Saturday rally. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

He discussed that at a basic level, the conflict is about mismanagement of Native Hawaiian resources. When Hawaii’s islands display unity, though, larger-scale awareness is possible.

“Every time every island does something, it kind of creates a wave, a ripple,” Kapu said.

Participants of all ages and many ethnicities chanted, held signs and waved flags during the peaceful demonstration, which started at Mala Wharf and ended at Kamehameha Iki Park, as visitors lined the streets to watch and ask questions.

Kahu Richard Maele DeLeon, one of the 33 kupuna (elders) arrested amid peaceful demonstrations atop Mauna Kea at the start of the conflict in July, spoke with a group of visitors inquiring about the march’s meaning. Many tourists initially thought it was parade.

“We have a lot to learn,” one visitor said.

Keali'i Reichel, award-winning singer, songwriter, dancer and teacher who grew up in Lahaina, marches in Saturday's statewide rally. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

Another stood with a hand over his heart in respect of the Hawaiian flag DeLeon carried.

After the march, which started at 2 p.m., Kapu spoke and offered food to participants. He said he invited tourists in the town to join in, and encouraged marchers to welcome others.

“The most important thing we need to do and recognize — because we are winning the battle — is to have kapu aloha,” Kapu told The Maui News. “Kapu aloha, to me, means we have to be patient, we have to listen, we have to learn, we have to come together, we have to love one another. That’s the most important thing for me.”

The marches statewide Saturday were organized by Hina Wong, the Mauna Majority Lahui and Na Koa Aloha ‘Aina, a news release said. Some rallies included music, activities, speakers and vendors. Kapu said he felt it was important to involve county officials and the Maui Police Department in coordinating the Maui event.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

Nearly 1,000 people of various ages and ethnic backgrounds marched Saturday in support of kia'i, or protectors, of Mauna Kea, who are against the construction of a telescope at the summit. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

Kahu Richard Maele DeLeon leads chants for the section of the rally as he films from the sidelines. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

A passerby shows support for the rally, organized to show solidarity with the kia'i, or protectors, of Mauna Kea. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

Kahu Richard Maele DeLeon talks with curious visitors after the rally. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

Maui march leader Ke’eaumoku Kapu speaks briefly after the procession down Front Street in Lahaina. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo