Kanaka visit Haleakala to embrace their kuleana

Haleakala needed representation as federal furlough reduces park staff, leaving kuahiwi exposed to overuse of facilities, taking of rocks and plants, visitors veering off trails and paths, littering and disrespecting this wao akua. By 8 a.m. the cool crisp, sunny morning saw more than 15 tour vendors, hundreds of people and a stream of private vehicles enter the park. Congestion, chaos seemed imminent.

Two days earlier, Joyclynn Costa read and contemplated like most Americans the possible effects of the federal government shutdown, but unlike most Americans she would respond in true kanaka form. “We answered the kahea from our kupuna to act as kia’i.” With a vision of ti leaf lei, hookupu, kahili, more than two dozen kanaka came to the mountain to kakoo, embrace their kuleana and place kapu aloha. The activity and purpose opened eyes, doors, hearts and ‘ike.

For me, since a 12-hour vigil nine years before at the observatory summit, it was the first time I walked the ‘aina feeling like a child returning from a long absence to the warm, familiar embrace of family.

Johanna Kamaunu