Friday, November 2, 2007

'Aha Kiole Advisory Committee Selected

 By Rep. Mele Carroll

I wanted to let everyone know that the 'aha kiole advisory committee has been selected by Governor Lingle. The are: Timothy Bailey from Maui, Vanda Hanakahi from Moloka‘i, Winifred Basques from Lana‘i, Sharon Pomroy from Kaua‘i, Ilei Beniamina from Ni‘ihau, Hugh Lovell from Hawai‘i, Charlie Kapua from O‘ahu, and Les Kuloloio representing Kaho‘olawe. I'm very pleased with the selection of the first 'aha kiole advisory committee members. They have an important task ahead and will play a critical role in maintaining the state's land and natural resources. I look forward to working with them.

What is the 'aha kiole committee? In the 2007 legislative session, the legislature passed SB 1853, establishing an ‘aha kiole advisory committee to advise the legislature in creating an ‘Aha Moku Council Commission to assist in the formation of regional 'aha moku councils. These councils shall give advisory assistance to the Department of Land and Natural Resources on all matters regarding the management of the State's natural resources. The bill was signed into law as Act 212. The committee is required to submit their first report to the legislature 20 days prior to the 2008 legislative session.

Given that my district covers Kahoolawe, Molokini, Lanai, Molokai, Keanae, Wailua, Nahiku, and Hana, I was a strong advocate for this bill throughout the 2007 session. I also serve as the Chair of the legislature's Hawaiian Caucus, and as Vice Chair of the Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection.

Over the past 200 years, Hawai‘i has seen and experienced severe changes. These include the deterioration of the Hawaiian culture, language, values, and land tenure system, which have in part resulted in the over-development of the coastline, alteration of fresh water streams, destruction of the life-giving watersheds, decimation of the coral reefs, and the decline of endemic marine and terrestrial species.

The purpose of this Act is to create a system of best practices based on the indigenous resource management practices of moku (regional) boundaries, acknowledging the natural contours of land, the specific resources located within those areas, and the methodology necessary to sustain resources and the community.

Kupuna Les Kuloloio, who will represent the island of Kahoolawe, helped us on the creation of the legislation. He told me, "I felt we all had a tremendous opportunity to ensure that our Hawaiian resources would be protected through a system of best practices. It's a responsibility that should be embraced and taken seriously by many generations to come."

The ‘aha moku council system will foster understanding and practical use of knowledge, including native Hawaiian methodology and expertise, to assure responsible stewardship and awareness of the interconnectedness of the clouds, forests, valleys, land, streams, fishponds, and sea. The council system will include the use of community expertise and establish programs and projects to improve communication, education, provide training on stewardship issues throughout the region (moku), and increase education. This measure also appropriates funds for the advisory committee to carry out its duties.

Photo - Front Row, left to right: Auntie Winifred Basques, Vanda Hanakahi, Ilei Beniamina, Sharon Pomroy. Back Row, left to right: Rep. Mele Carroll, Charlie Kapua, Timmy Bailey, Les Kuloloio, and Hugh "Buttons" Lovell.

Native Hawaiian culture has knowledge that has been passed on for generations, and is still living for the purposes of perpetuating traditional protocols, caring for and protecting the environment, and strengthening cultural and spiritual connections. It is through the ‘aha moku council that native Hawaiians protected their environment and sustained the abundance of resources that they depended upon for thousands of years.

The ahupua'a is an ancient Hawaiian land division system which contained strips of land that extended from the mountain to the kupapaku (ocean floor). The ahupua'a supported a self-contained and ola (life giving) community working with a spirit of cooperation of caring and revering the land to meet the needs of all.

Tim Bailey, who will represent Maui, said: "There are many in my generation who want to do the right thing and understand the importance of studying ancient practices. It is a great honor to be selected to serve on the 'aha kiole advisory committee. Working together with the members of the committee, the Legislature, and the Department of Land and Natural Resources, we can and will preserve these practices that make Hawaii unique in all creation."

By studying the ancient Hawaiian ahupua'a, the biological and non-biological factors and their interactions, this bill hopes to identify those elements which supported the success of that ecological system. Learning to build on those elements and not rival nature but to cooperate and live in harmony with her to build a sustainable future is the goal of this measure.

Today, many Hawaiian communities are being revitalized by using the knowledge of cultural practitioners passed down through kupuna, experienced farmers (mahi'ai) and fishers (lawai'a) to engage and enhance sustainability, subsistence and self-sufficiency.

Many Hawaiian communities are also interested, concerned, involved, willing, and able to advise the departments, agencies, organizations and other groups in integrating traditional knowledge, and ahupua'a management practices.

The goal of this measure is consistent with the Hawaii State Constitution which reaffirms and protects all rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes and possessed by ahupua'a tenants who are descendants of native Hawaiians who inhabited the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778, subject to the rights of the State to regulate such rights.

The 2005 Hawaii Ocean Resources Management Plan report to the 2006 legislature identified, under the protection of natural and cultural resources section, the need for a system for assessing management needs and developing management practices which drew collectively on regulatory, science-based, traditional and cultural, community-based and political systems such as the konohiki or ahupua'a concept. The 'aha moku councils provide meaningful feedback.

Above Photo: I'ao Ridgeline - Maui, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters

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