“Why Hawaiians Won’t Go Away”

By Lei Kihoi, Esq.
(Kailua Kona resident)

Today, I took food and water to kokua our Protectors of Maunakea at Pu’uhuluhulu—the Pu’uhonua at Maunakea. This is the “encampment” of Native Hawaiian Protectors of Maunakea for both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians who believe, as I do—that our Maunakea is sacred.

At this site, volunteers provided cooks, food, water, shelter, care for the elderly and young, traffic control, legal observers, food and water runners, first aid, masseurs. These volunteers are devoted to the task of providing a comfortable, stable environment to all Protectors so that they can continue the struggle for justice. Most importantly, everyone, Hawaiian or non-Hawaiians were embraced with “Aloha.”

Approximately, 600 people and their cars were lined up, along the highway with children and adults gathered in groves on Maunakea Access Road— the entry to Maunakea. The mood was happy, serious, somber, jovial, intense.

It was an extremely emotional day for me. Why? As a young law student in the mid-70’s during the Kaho’olawe movement, I was one of the “background Protectors” of Kaho’olawe.

Yes, we considered and consider Kaho’olawe sacred. To see the United States of America use our Kaho’olawe for bombing practice. was painful and sacrilegious to me and all of us!

The frontline people were the real heroes:. Walter Ritte, George Helm, Kawaipuna Prejean, Ian Lind, Dr. Emmett Aluli, , Stephen K. Morse, Kimo Aluli, Ellen Miles, and Karla Villalba. By occupying our beloved Kaho’olawe to prevent further bombing and desecration, they risked their lives for justice.

The rest of us, kept the momentum alive “on the ground.” No cell phones. No Facebook. No Instagram. No “go fund” me. No computers. But we did it. Together, We stopped the “feds” from bombing Kaho’olawe.

Do I have hope that we will stop the desecration today? Yes, I do. Why? Because, Hawaiians, will never go away.

About 20 to 30 notable front line kupuna (elders) lined the ranks today Among them, Walter Ritte, Momi Greene, Gwen Kim—who are kupuna, among others, who are not new to standing up for what is pono (what is right). Our kupuna represent our past and our future. Seeing our beloved kupuna, laying their lives on the line was a heart wrenching experience for me, today.

And what about our ‘opio? Our youth? A significant number of them were present today. Happiness. These young people— continue to be well versed in our history, culture, traditions, and our language, and more importantly, what is pono. They are our past and our future, as well. This is why Hawaiians will never go away.