Video: Dana Nāone Hall, Kaʻanohi Kaleikini, Kaleikoa Ka’eo, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, and Moses K.N. Haia III speak on the topic of iwi kūpuna. 4Miles, LLC for Kamakakoʻi
On a recent weekday on Maui, a few hundred yards from one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, Dana Hall pauses for a moment to bemoan the loss of ancient burial sites to development.
For nearly three decades, this former chairwoman of the Maui County Burial Council has been a booming voice for the issue, mobilizing hundreds of residents and tapping in to statewide networks of information that could help the cause.
“What motivates me – and has been deep in everyone involved – is reverence for the things of the past that feed us now and continue on through us,” Hall said.
She sees, as Paulette Kaleikini does, many of these sacred burial sites getting bulldozed and destroyed by such land-hungry developments as hotels, shopping centers and transportation projects. It pains Kaleikini still.
But Kaleikini holds on as a pivotal figure in bringing attention to the ongoing challenges to protect and preserve the ancestral remains of Hawaiian families.
“Our kupuna is our connection to the land and when (developers) desecrate their iwi, it takes so much out of me,” Kaleikini said.
She recognizes, as Kaleikoa Ka’eo does, that the issue is larger than them as individuals. From his perspective, the issue is about preserving his cultural identity as a Hawaiian.
“Cultural identity is so important – so central that we cannot really be in a sense Hawaiian without this understanding of our iwi kūpuna,” said Kaeo, a professor at Maui Community College.
For that reason, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu approaches her leadership role on the O’ahu Island Burial Council with energy, enthusiasm and a sense of urgency, all bent on preserving the Hawaiian community’s say in continual improvement of land-use planning. But she is quick to add that her job isn’t to block development.
“It’s my job to speak up on behalf of iwi kūpuna,” she said. “It’s not my job to try to be an opponent to development…”