In response to the growing number of crises affecting the people of East Maui, we the Kua Hawaii Project, have been working in collaboration with groups on neighboring islands experiencing similar challenges in developing a Kanaka Ranger Program to assist with cultural-based stewardship of our country - the lands, natural resources and communities of Hawai’i.
The region of East Maui, Hawaii’s largest single source of surface water, is at a tipping point. The influx of tourism and the lack of its appropriate management has been conflicting with our day to day lives as residents for over a decade. Surveys conducted over the last two years estimates the highway to be four times over visitor capacity and now considered to be insufficient to serve the current level of use which creates issues such as overcrowding, illegal parking, hazardous driving conditions, rampant trespassing on private property leading to visitor injuries requiring emergency rescues, excessive unlicensed commercial activity triggering economic adversities, waste disposal concerns including public facility cleanliness, pluming issues leading to stream and ocean contamination, health hazards and death.
Over the last two years we have collected data through roadside surveying, traffic studies, visitor questionnaires, web surveillance and natural resource monitoring. With this information we have formulated a plan aimed to reduce the impact of the visitor industry and further refine the methods to best protect the natural resources of our home.
The Hana Highway Regulation has polished a Road to Hana Code of Conduct to encourage safe travels along the delicate roadway. In partnership with the visitor’s bureau, the Hana Community Association is developing educational resources in the form of an infographic brochure and preparedness video to enhance visitor safety. Additionally the organization is working with the Department of Transportation and Public Utilities Commission to increase roadside signage and commercial industry oversight. Although these components will provide some preventative measure, we have determined that in-the-field regulatory action is our only line of effective defense to the level of desecration we are enduring. Visitor actions leading to resident frustrations and environmental turmoil have been identified as illegal parking, private property trespassing, unlicensed commercial activity and commercial activity within a sacred site. Amongst our studies we have recorded a 96% reduction in these four culprits of chaos under the condition that a field advisor is on premises, mediating the offenses as they present themselves by providing visitor education.
We have been greatly inspired by our aboriginal cousins across the Pacific at @countryneedspeople, and the successful implementation of their Indigenous Ranger Program through the Australian continent. In particular, whats resonated with us most is the corresponding philosophy that the “Country Needs People”.
The Kanaka Ranger program draws upon thousands of years of ancestral knowledge that harnesses the understanding of the intrinsic relationship between indigenous peoples and the land in which they come from. Interested residents will submit an autobiography as an application for the position of kanaka ranger, outlining their history of regional protection efforts and why they are interested in serving. Chosen candidates will enter a voluntary agreement and adhere to policies, procedures and protocol to protect the area’s cultural resources which include sacred sites, forests, coastlines and water ways. We seek your support to train and enable our management of district volunteers to impress the effectiveness and value of place-specific expertise. Volunteers will be granted a $1,000.00 per month stipend for standing post 8 hours per day, four days per week.