Kaʻa i ka Lawa (Mokulēʻia, Oʻahu)

By Kaley Kalehuakea Kelling

Over the weekend of December 1-3, 2023, in the malu of Mokulēʻia, as many as 40 participants from 26 organizations across the pae ʻāina gathered together to share stories and experiences around the topics of community engagement, management plans, and land access/acquisition. As this was our first reconvening of Kaʻa i ka Lawa since 2018, Friday evening was spent revisiting and reconnecting with one another, catching up on the latest news regarding our organizations and ʻohana. With Friday’s focus being community engagement, the various organizations and community members present shared the successes of identifying the diverse stakeholders of their ʻāina but have had challenges with the succession of kuleana and ʻike as many hulu kūpuna begin to transition into the realm of pō.

With an entire day piha of conversations ahead of us, we began our Saturday with an ʻaha piko to ground us for the heavy sessions to come. The pōʻai was opened with introductions bringing with us an ʻāina, as well as a mentor who has shaped us. E ola ka hā o ia mau inoa makamae! Our focus – management plans! Various hui took the time to reflect and share where they are in the process – few have versions completed with the help of funders and partner organizations, while others have yet to cultivate their plans to fruition. Whatever stage each organization was at in the process, the culmination of transparency, experiences, and expertise has left us feeling more comfortable tackling the next steps on our to-do lists. Bottom line: management plans are expensive and time-consuming, yet can reflect exactly how we wish to care for our ʻāina – as we intend to with management plan or not!

On our last day together, we shifted our focus from management plans to land access and acquisition. Joined by Reyna Ramolette Hayashi of Trust for Public Land Hawaiʻi (TPL), our organizations and community members were fortunate to hear of the numerous experiences of kuaʻāina gaining access and ultimately, acquisition over their land. Sharing their own stories of access, we learn of the growing desire for many to return and steward the lands that cradle the iwi of their kūpuna. Although this ʻauamo is heavy, it is never shouldered alone. ʻAʻohe hana nui ke alu ʻia!



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