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The Movement of Sacred Aloha on Mauna Kea

Photo of Mauna Kea protector

Social media has been buzzing with information about the movement of sacred aloha on Mauna Kea. Here in Hawaii we call the energy around the protection of our Mauna kapu aloha, sacred aloha.

I was able to visit Mauna Kea recently. It was an honor to witness this historical event and be inspired by the many protectors, some who have been up there in the elements more than 80 days!

Mauna a wakea is the “mountain of our sky father”. We protect the mountain as an act of conservation and also a preservation of our culture.

We stand to protect the ‘aina, land, from those who want to put a 30-meter telescope on top of Mauna Kea and bore a hole in the ground to accommodate that structure.

There are already 12 telescopes in the location. Some are no longer in commission but remain in place with permanent foundations.

The Watershed

Malama ulu is our name for the delicate balance that Hawaiians have always understood and caretaken to bring precious nutrients through the watershed to sustain all life from the mountain to the sea. This happens via streams as well as subsurface flow.

Pele’s ana caves supply an avenue for our subterranean aquifer. The construction of this 30-meter-telescope (TMT) with it’s septic system has the potential to interrupt this vital aquifer system because the foundation requires digging 180 feet into the mauna.

In addition, the TMT is a piece of metal which has a charge. The detrimental effects on the structure and ecosystem of the core beneath Mauna Kea could be catastrophic.

Hawaiian Deity of Mauna Kea

Many Hawaiians, kia’i (protectors) as well as the ancestors are objecting to the desecration of a sacred site. Here are just a few of the divine elements of Mauna Kea.

Poliahu, the goddess of the snow and the cloud that hovers over the Mauna.

Lake Waiau is the third piko of Mauna Kea Lake. It is the offspring of the Kane and Wahine Piko, a sacred pond that is paramount to the watershed.

Our kupuna iwi (ancestral bones), lie in the ana caves beneath the prospective TMT house.

The ancient civilization of Lumeria were a People of the Heart. Mauna Kea was the highest peak of the archipelago of Mu.

This Mountain, Our Mountain, Every Mountain

Mauna Kea is the highest mountain in the world. From base to summit, it’s higher than Mount Everest.

I went to visit Pu’uhonua o Pu’uhuluhulu with Brother Chuckie several weeks ago. It was tears and “chicken skin” the whole time.

People from many nations were gathered together to celebrate and to protect our mountains, our water and our ocean.

A delegation from Japan, representing Mt. Fuji, came to share their native protocol.

The Hawaiian islands of Niihau, Moloka’i, Maui and ‘Oahu sent representatives. They brought their songs, their dances and gifts of food to the families that have been there every single day.

Representatives from indigenous tribes and First Nations people who had been at Standing Rock shared their stories. How they stood together like never before, how they were mistreated and how they lost.

In reality, they haven’t fully lost because they continue to stand together with people of other nations like ours to protect our ‘aina, our Mother Earth.

When people say, “We are Mauna Kea,” they declare a connection to this mountain and all of our sacred mountains. We are the ocean and we are the freshwater. We are all a part of the same, the same one.

A song has been moving my heart “Ku Ha’aheo”

It’s calling upon every chief of every land, the spirit and energy of those islands and the ‘aina warriors of those islands to come together. To stand as peaceful warriors in what we call kapu aloha, sacred aloha.

My Biggest Takeaways from Mauna Kea

I felt an unprecedented sense of One-ness. I have never seen or heard of it in my lifetime the degree to which Hawaiians have come together for this cause.

The kupuna, elders, have a huge “Why”. There is a sense of urgency among the elders that there’s no time to waste. They remember a Hawaii of deep suppression. No Hawaiian language. No Hawaiian traditions…and this was in their lifetime!

This is their time to stand up for Hawai’i and they are not going to miss it.

Every day, they give their time, energy and mana, divine spiritual essence to protecting the land.

‘Aina warriors are made, not assigned. About 10 years ago, I had four Hawaiians that came in to the first generation of our program for Apprentices at Ho’omana Spa Maui. Two of them were just 18 years old.

It was such a treat to see them at Mauna Kea and have a chance to hear a bit of how they came to be ‘aina warriors.

Day 1 when they heard the call go out for protectors, they chained themselves to the cattle grates to block the pathway of the TMT trucks from going up the mountain. Human barriers on the road.

While they were lying there, they began to reminisce. “When did we decide to become ‘aina warriors?”

They shared with me that it all began in 2010.  They shared about how lomi was a turning point on the path they follow today.

”Every day I use what I learned in that classroom, even if it’s not the Hawaiian massage technique. I live the values we learned in Lomi Lomi class.”

aloha ‘aina: caring for the land

malama na kupuna: taking care of the elders

aloha ke kahi i ke kahi: heal and maintain relationships with one another

It is so fulfilling as a kumu (teacher) to see the seeds planted all those years ago have contributed to the answering of this sacred calling.

It Takes a Village to Protect Mauna Kea

Every single thing that’s happening is by donation.

Tents, coats, clothing, blankets, cots and chairs supply those that arrive without the necessary supplies.

There is a lomi tent for anyone who needs it, especially the workers who serve all day and then sleep out in the freezing cold.

They are organized and sustainable. Everyone in the La Hui is doing their part.

Bathrooms are cleaned, sewage trucks supplied, rubbish is sorted, food is provided.

Even if you cannot go to the Mauna, there is still plenty you can do. I share a few ideas at the end of this post.

The Voices of the Protectors

Jason Momoa (Aquaman) and Ezra Miller (Flash) were there that day and participated in the cultural ceremony. They have both publicly declared that they will not do another DC film until TMT is stopped on the mountain.

Hawane was shooting a music video for the Mauna and gathered all the mana wahine to join her in raising our hands with the triangle Mauna Kea symbol.

Raiatea Helm and many other artists were playing music and lifting their voices in song for the Mauna.

There were young children. Elders. People of influence. Everyone coming together in One Voice. Always remember that your voice matters.

We are Mauna Kea

All of us will be affected by what happens to Mother Earth. When people are in need and injustices are happening, we all need to stand together.

Why are we worried about looking up into the sky when we need to be looking right here, on the planet we are standing on?

This is a moment for us to stand together and just say, “Enough.”

Stand strong and aloha ‘aina with civility and love. Open up the hearts of the heartless who are not connecting to the heartbeat of our Mother Earth.

What You Can Do

Go to the Mauna…

  1. Donate your time, help out. You can do lomi, help sort out the trash, feed the people and anything else you can think of.
  2. Take a ho’okupu-offering and leave it on the site and dress for all weather conditions.

If you cannot go to the Mauna, your support is vital…

  1. Tell the state of Hawaiʻi that you oppose the Thirty Meter Telescope through this Google Form.
  2. Contact key decision-makers including Governor David Ige, Hawaiʻi Island Mayor Harry Kim, and folks at the University of Hawaiʻi to express your support for Mauna Kea and the kia’i and encourage them to STOP the TMT project.
  3. Post on social media about what is happening at Mauna Kea
  4. Join an event in your community to show your steadfast support. Connect them to what’s happening on Mauna Kea.
  5. Say a Prayer: Use prayer and affirmation towards opening up the hearts of those that are behaving in a way that appears heartless.
  6. Learn this ku ha’aheo chant and sing it with me.
  7. Join more than 200,000 Mauna Kea supporters opposing “any construction made on sacred land without the free, prior and informed consent of Kānaka Maoli,”
  8. Make a donation….

All kiaʻi are ultimately at risk for arrest on Mauna Kea. You can donate directly to any of these organizations:

Hawaiʻi Community Bail Fund to help protectors with cash bail,

HULI for nonviolent community organizing, logistics and training

KAHEA Aloha ʻĀina Support Fund, which prioritizes frontline logistical support for non-violent protectors of Mauna Kea.

Donate any extra Hawaiian Airlines Miles to help other kiaʻi travel to Mauna Kea

Buy a flight directly for a Native Hawaiian eager to join kiaʻi on Hawaiʻi Island.

Whatever the outcome, I know that magical things are happening.

Mauna Kea is restoring pride in a culture, unity of spirit, connection to our earth and hope for future generations to caretake.

This is a movement.

Mahalo for the support that I know you’re giving from wherever you are.

Take action today, and post a comment below about what you are doing to aloha ‘aina.

With aloha,

image of kumu Jeana Iwalani Naluai

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