Whale season is coming to a close, canoe season is under way and school will be out soon. Hanakao'o Beach Park, also known as Canoe Beach, will be the gathering place for 'ohana, canoe clubs, visitors and residents alike. It is a place where locals congregate on hot summer afternoons or legions of paddlers and their 'ohana join together in spiritual competition on regatta day. This might sound like an idyllic situation, except for the hundreds of paying thrill craft customers disrupting the scene, buzzing back and forth along our near shoreline waters and on and off the beach.
This is not acceptable to Na Kupuna O Maui. This is noise pollution and an extreme danger because of the multiple conflicting users of our nearshore waters. People are swimming, paddling, fishing, snorkeling, boogie boarding and diving. Tutu are splashing in the shallow waters with their mo'opuna, while at the same time, paying customers, day in and day out, are being transported in power boats from the beach to the jet ski platform or parasail boats idling offshore.
Na Kupuna O Maui realizes this is big business, with plenty of money added to the state coffers for these activities, but we have one big question: What is more important-- the almighty dollar or the safety of our people?
Na Kupuna O Maui wants to preserve Hanakao'o as a commercial-free zone. This small, but treasured, slice of shoreline is where our community gathers for cultural purposes. This area was once rich with opelu, where our Hawaiian fishermen would come to gather from these traditional fishing grounds. This is where we come to lay back, talk story, paddle, swim and play--not to get anxious about our children, or our friends or our neighbors, getting run over by a careless power boat operator. This is not about an accident waiting to happen. This is about avoiding another fatality, and make no mistake, Na Kupuna O Maui will hold the authorities accountable for any accidents that may occur.
For over a year-and-a-half, the worries of Na Kupuna O Maui have impacted our enjoyment of Canoe Beach and our ability to exercise our cultural rights. We have led awareness rallies, written letters to newspapers, launched a petition drive and corresponded with our local county and state politicians, including the governor and lieutenant governor.
There has been no response from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources --as directed by the governor--and Na Kupuna O Maui is frustrated and fearful. We are taking action. We demand that Hanakao'o Beach be set aside for the people.
We are addressing our concerns to the Aha Moku O Maui Council, a panel enacted by state law (Act 212) to advise the state on indigenous resource management practices specific to various moku (districts).