I would really like to hear everyone's mana'o on this subject, which is very "hot" right now. In my opinion, at this particular moment in time, a little really good mana'o could go a long way.

I want to see positive solutions that address all the issues at once and I think it can be done. I've been working on this a long time, and talking to many people. I have my own feelings about what should be done, but for now I just want to put out the issues that have been identified (I'm sure I've probably missed some, so please add to the list):

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1) Resources need to be protected. Everyone seems to agree on this.

2) The State of Hawai'i is concerned with liability/safety issues.

On the other hand, there is a major question as to whether these are made better or worse by current DLNR practices, since:
a) it is well known by all that there are many cultural practitioners who do not adhere to DLNR regulations. Some of these feel that their rights are protected by State laws (constitution aXII s7, PASH, etc.), and some do not acknowledge the State at all (or both).
b) there is no communication between DLNR and these practitioners, which means that the practitioners do not have access to possibly important information, such as impending landslides, etc.
c) efforts to keep practitioners out (fences, guns, etc.) may be creating additional hazards, which definitely add to safety problems and may add to liability as well.

3) There are mixed feelings about "Liability Waivers" on all sides. However, some practitioners are okay with signing a waiver of limited liability of their own design, as long as their rights are not affected.

4) "Licenses" don't work for many people, for many reasons:
a) there is a general feeling that the authority for cultural practice comes from Akua to ancestors or kumu to the current generation, and that for anyone outside of this line to "authorize" this sacred kuleana is culturally inappropriate.
b) there are major questions as to whether any body that could issue licenses could be trusted by both DLNR and 'aina practitioners, and/or whether this body could become corrupt.
c) many cultural practitioners are also involved in the sovereignty/independence movement, and as such, many will not recognize any kind of State palapala.
d) knowing many cultural practitioners, "we would probably lose the dang thing"!

5) There are problems between DLNR enforcement and practitioners right now. Some of these include:
a) a feeling that DLNR targets Hawaiian practitioners rather than more serious abusers such as large commercial harvesters or eco-tour companies.
b) lack of cultural knowledge within DLNR.
c) serious lack of legal knowledge about cultural rights by those enforcing the law.
d) jurisdiction questions, the most serious of these being the potential illegality of the state in the first place, the cumulative result of which is that many practitioners are not willing to follow State regulations or enforcement.
e) the current harvesting permit application process, which is culturally impossible for many practitioners to follow.
f) a general feeling that people are being harassed for being Hawaiian on the 'aina.
g) a general feeling that it is kanaka maoli who should have the kuleana to protect resources, not the State.

6) Many people feel that better communication is needed all around.

7) Many practitioners would like for DLNR to play a more active role in certain types of enforcement, such as in resource protection struggles between practitioners and commercial operations.

Pehea kou mana'o?

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Replies to This Discussion

Aloha e Laulani,

Mahalo for posting this. It is an important dialogue that should be addressed.

I personally do not feel that I should have to fill out a form or pay a fee to enter into the National Parks which are presently occupying our sacred grounds. If the people were "real practitioners" they should know resource protection that should also have been passed down their family line. If not, just the fact that one gathers, give's one a obligatory responsibility to conserve the resource they are gathering.

a year ago, there was a contraversy on the radio talking about the DLNR opening up harvesting of Koa on the Hamakua Coast. These were all people from Honolulu pushing this through. So they raped all the koa on their island, now they want to rape ours.

What the DLNR didn't look at is the fact that the gnarley roots of the koa help to #1. keep the erosion down. Therefore, protecting the Ohi`a from falling when we have big windstorms #2. Condition the soil being a natural nitrogen fixer. There is not much koa left in our islands so DLNR made a bad decision to allow this.

I've also heard about DLNR closing down whole valleys so they can go in there and rape it...They have the use of helicopters etc... to do their dirty deeds and I don't think DLNR should be trusted with any resources. So mahalo for posting this important topic.
Great mana'o and a beautiful pic! Took me a while to figure out what it was. Mahalo!
Mahalo e Laulani,

This is an important topic thanks for posting. Yah, the gatherers need to exert our rights at this time in Hawai'i's history to insure we don't lose the rights or forget them or forget about aina. I think aina and rights go hand in hand. Cultural practitioners are constantly hindered from their traditional gathering and it is important to continue to do so.
While DLNR may have a kinda responsibility to "regulate" resources - I don't recognize its authority to "permit" our use of the resource(s).

In other words - if we have a "right" to resources - then applying for a permit - or asking for permission - is not part of my/our reality.

DLNR may forget that it is a state agency - and is subject to the PASH and KaPa'akai cases. As an agency - it is charged to recognize and even encourage Kanaka Maoli rights and its traditional practices.

With the recent appeal by u.h. and its IfA (Institute for Astronomy) on the Outrigger contested case and subsequent granting of a permit to build and the Circuit Court's rejection of that permit - it is possible that some "new" views of DLNR and its operations may be commented on by either the Intermediate Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court (of Hawai'i).

As there have been no lawsuits regarding "Hawaiian rights" and DLNR - I'm hoping that the Court will clarify some of DLNR's responsibilities regarding these activities. I'm not hoping for miracles - as far as the total scope of DLNR's responsibilities go. I'm just hoping that the Court will at least say that DLNR is an agency that must comply with PASH and KaPa'akai.

One of my last potential brushes with DLNR was my camping at a "campground" near Hale Pohaku (at the 9000 foot elevation of Mauna Kea). Apparently - somebody from Mauna Kea Management (no friend of mine or Hawaiians) reported me. Anyway, the complaint eventually ended up at DLNR's office in Waimea - and the guy in charge threw it in the wastebasket.

I heard about it because the guy's wife worked with a good friend of mine.

Little do they realize or recognize "The Law of the Splintered Paddle" where we are protected while sleeping next to a trail or road. Such an edict assumes that the person being protected "is" sleeping there. However, I also believe that DLNR has the obligation to make sure that I'm protected when I'm out there.

The "campground" mentioned above is adjacent to the Humu'ula Trail and I believe that my camping there was totally legitimate and protected by the (so-called) "state" constitution.

Using and protecting the rights involved (as stated above) is a part of what I'm about.

Yeah Uncle Ku!!!
Hey, can I quote some of this?
Maika`i e Uncle Ku,

Ke kanawai mamalahoa is a good way to remember our rights and exert them. I respect your position on that. Right on... I think it is great...but weren't you cold? :) Can you explain ka pa`akai to us? The PASH rights are also something that sets precedence and needs to be exerted.
Uncle Ku can probably give a better rundown on Ka Pa'akai than me, but here goes with the basics:

"Ka Pa'akai" refers to a 2000 Hawaii Supreme Court decision in which the Kohanaiki 'Ohana, Ka Lahui, and the Kona Hawaiian Civic Club sued the State Land Use Commission along with 2 (golf course) developers and a bunch of other government agencies for failing to protect Hawaiian rights. The court found in favor of the kanakas, and the practical result is that developers are held to higher standards of cultural practice protection. Specifically, a "cultural impact statement" is now needed for major projects.

Here's a link to the actual decision:
The mention of obtaining licenses to assert gathering rights is concerning. It appears that DLNR is doing this to protect resources, but I don't believe that requiring licenses is the way to do this. From this standpoint, the only way licenses can work to protect resources is by 1) limiting the number of licenses distributed 2) limiting the amount of resource gathered per license. This would mean that a person who has been gathering from an area for years may not be able to obtain a license because all the licenses have been distributed for that time period, while someone who has never gathered from that area could obtain the license because he/she applied first.

Also, there is concern over who could obtain licenses - how will a governing body determine if someone is a cultural practitioner? Because I am 'Oiwi, does that give me the right to gather? Because I know protocol, does that give me the right to gather? Because I have been taught good gathering practices for sustainability, does that give me the right to gather? I don't think any governing body could determine any of this from a form.

I am also concerned because permitting requires manpower, which means that DLNR will be spending money on this which could mean a cost to those applying for a permit.

While I am not sure what a possible solution could be, I do not think licenses is the way to go. However, I agree that some way, somehow the resources need to be protected. There are areas that have been decimated by overzealous gathering by those not educated about sustainability.
I agree, I think education is the key. Maybe we should consider making a discussion on ideas of resource protection...that might be good solutions. Some might be based on familial practices but that is kind of unique to the locality which of course, should mot be listed as far as the location of the resources but the techniques for educated harvesting. For example, crabbing and releasing all the females especially with eggs. That kind of thing. I think that would be really great on this venue....
I think it is a great idea to share harvesting techniques. Education is a key component to any endeavor.
I agree too. Many creative elements are needed as part of a solution, only a few of which relate to "enforcement" at all. I'm actually working with DLNR and big groups of practitioners on trying to develop solutions that actually work. A really good system of information exchange is a crucial part of this. DLNR has greater access to the scientific info the practitioners need about hazard conditions, specific threats like new invasive species, etc., and they need to respond to the practitioners who are the eyes and ears of the 'aina, when the call is put out about real abuse. Practitioners also need to be at least loosely networked so we have some idea of who is who, but I want to avoid the situation where some practitioners are "recognized" and others are "out", even though they may be equally valid (I have been in the "out" situation myself, and it hurts). Also, some people who are hardcore sovereignty koa will simply not get a permit or license from the state under any circumstances. They take the "a'ole a'e kau i ka pulima ma luna o ka pepa o ka enemi" mana'o seriously, and I think that must be respected! It would be really good if we developed our own systems for info exchange, which DLNR can provide support to. I do not really think it should be them "educating" us -- this top-down thing has got to go already (how long have our kupuna been doing this?). It should be a good exchange of all information that needs to be exchanged, between all involved, so that everybody kicks it up to a higher level. That's my thinking anyway.


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