Monday, December 1, 2014

Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Safety Trainees on Kahoʻolawe

Cashman sisters, Ulu and Pilialoha being awarded their KIRC Access Guide Certificate
after completing all their training requirements.
When I was first asked to attend Access Guide Training, I was hesitant because of the role I was being asked to play by those whom I trusted most. Whether or not I passed the training, I had just been told that this could be my chosen path to Aloha ‘Āina on Kaho‘olawe. As one flips the coin of responsibility and privilege, my own Ala Loa was changing just as I am.

Access Guide Training was a trip of many firsts. It was a striking chance to see the pleasant clash of polar opposites. The classroom became a melting pot of learning about the dangerous and the safe, along with the past and the future. 

I learned about the very thing that could kill me: UXO (unexploded ordnance). Learning to identify UXO was like learning a foreign language. But, when we were put on the spot in the field surrounded by live UXO’s, it became hard to focus on identification. How could you not think about all the suffering that a single UXO could do to the land, a person, and a people? I would make sure the future generations would know the story. 

I am very thankful to Mike (Executive Director), Bart (UXO Safety Specialist), and Grant (Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Specialist III) who took the time to establish a foundation of safety while being open to an equal playing field of ages and personalities. Thank you to the KIRC staff for being open and helping in the preparation of Access Guide Training. Mahalo most of all to those who have supported me through Access Guide Training and continue to support me.
— Pilialohamauloa Cashman

At first I wasn’t sure if becoming an Access Guide was something that I was worthy of - but I am committed to do anything for the lāhui and Kaho‘olawe.

My main goal for becoming an Access Guide is to support the effort towards the completion of the Ala Loa. Being given such a big responsibility was heavy, but knowing that the few supporting me to attend training believed that I could do this, I needed to believe in myself. And I do.

Despite my age, I focused my energy on representing the next generation that those before me can rely on to follow through and to prepare both my generation of leaders and those that will follow. This was the beginning of my kuleana to Kaho‘olawe and the lāhui. 

Mahalo to Mike, Bart, and Grant for their patience and willingness to instill safety in us while on Kaho‘olawe. Most of all, mahalo to them for viewing all members as equals. Despite individual ages and the amount of time each spent on Kaho‘olawe, they instilled that safety is number one.  Mahalo to the KIRC staff, to all of my classmates for their kōkua, laughs and life long memories and to all of the individuals that continue to support and believe in my desire to be a part of Kaho‘olawe. Most importantly, mahalo piha Kanaloa. Amama ua noa…
 — Uluwehiokapulapulaikalaakea Cashman

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Talk Story with Franco Salmoiraghi, He Moku Poina ‘Ole Featured Photographer

On Friday, October 10th, 2014, THE KIRC will launch a month-long event at the Bailey House Museum / Maui Historical Society in Wailuku, Maui. An exhibition of photographs captured during the critical time when Kaho‘olawe was returned to the people of Hawai‘i 20 years ago, “He Moku Poina ‘Ole, An Island Not Forgotten” will be on view featuring pieces by three acclaimed Hawai'i photographers: Wayne Levin, Franco Salmoiraghi, David Ulrich, and archaeologist/ writer Rowland Reeve. Complementing the exhibit will be a free opening reception with the artists, talk story sessions and opportunities for schools and community groups to participate.

During a recent breakfast with photographer Franco Salmoiraghi at Manoa's Morning Glass Coffee + Cafe, book designer Barbara Pope, KIRC Executive Director Mike Naho‘opi‘i and myself exchanged information, ideas and stories about the time they spent on Kaho‘olawe 20 years ago creating the larger collection that will be sampled at the Bailey House.

Photo Source: Andrew Rose Gallery

KIRC: Why is Kaho'olawe important to you - and - why did you select the subjects you did for your photographs?

FS: My visits to Kaho‘olawe in the 1970’s and 1980‘s were first as a witness to make photographs that documented the commitment of the people to the restoration of the ‘aina. I was there as a participant, to use photographs to help create an awareness of the struggle and to show the inherent beauty of the island. This was not a forgotten wasteland worthy of being bombed and ignored.

The photographic expeditions in the 1990’s were for a book and exhibition project about Kaho‘olawe for the Bishop Museum. During that time, there was cooperation with the military. I was able to visit areas of Kaho’olawe that had been unavailable before  –– places which were restricted because of live ordnance. This access provided a means of seeing Kaho‘olawe from that point of view for the first time and making photographs of the military presence and infrastructure.

This allowed me to combine those photographs with others from the past to tell a much larger story about Kaho‘olawe. This story of course was always the islands' importance to the Hawaiian people and culture and their commitment to healing and restoration after many years of human neglect and carelessness.

KIRC: Why is it important to continue to share these images in person, rather than online, with the community?

FS: When seeing good prints of photographs in person, there is often a stronger physical connection –– as there may be in any live performance venue. The viewer may pick up direct energy from the print itself as an object, as well as power emanating from the subject matter. I believe that energy may be distracted and diluted when viewed through the digital portal. Also, if there are other viewers present in the exhibition space, there is the opportunity for a shared dialogue concerning the content of the photographs. Questions may arise; Who are the people in the photographs? Why were they so committed to participate in such a difficult “battle” with the U.S. military against the degradation of Kaho‘olawe?

Mike, Barbara & Frank talk story at Morning Glass
He Moku Poina ‘Ole will be on view at the Bailey House Museum / Maui Historical Society October 10 - November 3 (Mon - Sat from 10 AM - 4 PM). The collection will showcase selections from the Bishop Museum’s Kaho'olawe: Rebirth of a Sacred Hawaiian Island (1996, Honolulu, HI) and Smithsonian Institution’s Ke Aloha Kupaa I Ka Aina -- Steadfast Love for the Land (2002, Washington, D.C.) exhibitions.

KIRC program specialists in Hawaiian culture, restoration, ocean resources, UXO (unexploded ordnance) and Kaho‘olawe history can be available by appointment for school visits, talk story sessions or other educational & outreach requests. Interested parties should contact Kelly McHugh at kmchugh (at) For developing details, follow the KIRC at Learn more about the KIRC at

Postcard photograph: Tattoo, Bombs, Camouflage — Kahoolawe © franco salmoiraghi

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Introducing He Moku Poina ‘Ole

Postcard photograph: Tattoo, Bombs, Camouflage — Kahoolawe © franco salmoiraghi

On Friday, October 10th, 2014, the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) will proudly unveil “He Moku Poina ‘Ole, An Island Not Forgotten.”

Featuring pieces by three acclaimed Hawai‘i photographers, Wayne Levin, Franco Salmoiraghi, David Ulrich, and archaeologist/ writer Rowland Reeve, this historical exhibition will showcase selections from the Bishop Museum’s Kahoolawe: Rebirth of a Sacred Hawaiian Island (1996, Honolulu, HI) and Smithsonian Institution’s Ke Aloha Kupaa I Ka Aina -- Steadfast Love for the Land (2002, Washington, D.C.) collections. The exhibition will be on view at the Bailey House Museum through November 3, 2014.

The KIRC would like to acknowledge the Bailey House Museum, who is generously hosting the exhibit; Maui Arts & Cultural Center Cultural Programs Director Hōkūlani Holt, who expertly guided the curation of the collection; renowned Maui artist Darrell Orwig, who will install the show; and a long list of supporters ready and willing to contribute their talents to a great opening reception and programming throughout the run of the exhibition, including Haleakala Distillers, the Four Seasons Resort Maui, University of Hawai‘i at Maui College’s Institute of Hawaiian Music, and many more.

“If you see Hawaii as part of you, then Kahoolawe is part of you. It is not outside of you, it is part of you. Kahoolawe is for all of us.” — Hōkūlani Holt

This month-long public information & outreach event will include a free opening reception with the artists, talk story sessions and opportunities for schools and community groups to participate. KIRC program specialists in Hawaiian culture, restoration, ocean resources, UXO (unexploded ordnance) and Kaho‘olawe history can be available-by-appointment (email kmchugh (at) for school visits, talk story sessions or other educational & outreach requests.

For developing details, follow the KIRC at Learn more about the KIRC at

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Volunteer Spotlight: Daniel Southmayd

For 14 years, Boston-native Daniel Southmayd has become an integral part of the Wailuku, Maui community. As a devoted volunteer, motivated spirit and brilliant pastry chef of his co-owned Catering from Soup to Nuts, Inc. & Vineyard Food Company, which shares proceeds with a new community-based nonprofit each month, the KIRC has been enormously fortunate to work alongside Daniel for the past year. From joining volunteer accesses on-island as a restoration worker and/ or chef to promoting our Hui Kāpehe internship program or Kihei Boat House property cleanup days here on Maui, Daniel’s exemplary support has made a profound impact on the effectiveness and reach of the KIRC.

Why did you initially volunteer for the KIRC?
My friend Dustin Palos, (who is now in the KIRC’s Hui Kāpehe internship program), was invited to join a volunteer access with Cultural Resources Project Coordinator Kui Gapero last summer due to his extensive knowledge of native plants. Dustin asked Kui if he could bring a friend along, and so I joined him.

Why do you continue to volunteer?
Volunteering on Kaho‘olawe has become one of the most fulfilling things I do with my life. Kaho‘olawe is, to me, a physical manifestation of what happened to the kanaka maoli — land being taken away and used for purposes it was never intended; purposes destructive to the ‘aina and to the culture. Restoring Kaho‘olawe means restoring the culture to the people. The most immediate gratification comes from seeing groups of volunteers who go out to Kaho‘olawe bond with one another and, more importantly, reconnect with their culture. It is deeply affecting, and it never fails to move me in profound ways. Every experience and group is different. The work is hard, the climate is harsh, but the rewards are many and exhilarating.

Why is it important to volunteer for this cause?
Kaho‘olawe is, in my opinion, one of the most valuable educational tools Hawai‘i has, and its well-being has been ignored for too long. At this time, funding is dwindling, and volunteering is critical to keeping this important work going.

What has been one of your favorite memories throughout this journey?
There are far too many to mention here! I have a new favorite after every volunteer access, and every person or place I’ve encountered on Kaho‘olawe has his/her/its own mo‘olelo in my life. There are still plenty of memories to be made, and I hope they will continue to add up for a long time to come.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
Please come to the community cleanup days at Kihei Boat Ramp (4th Saturday of every month from 8 AM – 12 PM). Do what you can. Get involved. Be the change. Never give up hope for a better future for all of us and the amazing place we live in.

Friday, June 13, 2014

There's No Crying in Hula

During a recent restoration access with volunteers of Ka Pā Hula O Ka Lei Lehua, we rose at 4:30 AM to make way for the summit of Pu‘u Moa‘ulanui. Led by Kumu Hula Snowbird Puananiopaoakalani Bento, the group greeted the sun rising over Haleakalā with a chant learned throughout the week, bringing with it a much needed rain.

“After our chant, I invited the young ones to sit by me and talk story for a while,” remarks Snowbird, “As I reflected on the week that I spent on Kaho‘olawe, I thought of my haumana, Kui, who stood at this very spot with me just a few mornings prior with his wahine and keiki. I spoke to the youth about the idea of legacy. Kui had lost his father earlier in the year, who instilled in him his love of Kaho‘olawe. Now here he was, standing at Moa‘ulanui, sharing that legacy with his own children. When children see what we have passion for – when we can really show them – we ingrain responsibility. This is the best way to teach a child.

“It was at this moment that I realized that I was teaching the future teachers of our people. I always say ‘there’s no crying in hula’ but at that moment, I could not help myself. This was my a-ha moment.”

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What the 2014 Leg Session Means for the KIRC


In 1993, 11% of the U.S. Navy’s $400M clean-up budget was allocated to the newly established Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission (the KIRC) by the Hawai`i State Legislature. This 1-time allowance became the Kaho`olawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund, earmarked to carry out long-term environmental restoration, archaeological and educational activities on the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve while held in trust for a future Native Hawaiian sovereign entity; activities designed to carry out the terms and conditions of the MOU between the State and the Navy regarding the island’s return.

Military exercises at Hanakanai'a, 1993. Courtesy Franco Salmoiraghi
This $44M federal fund was appropriated by congress and transferred to the Trust Fund, with the last appropriation made in 2004.  Since that time the KIRC has operated from the balance of the Trust Fund. During the development of the KIRC’s second strategic plan (2008), it was identified that this fund would be exhausted by FY2011/12. In response, the KIRC immediately re-engineered management, restoration and staffing, enabling operations to extend an additional 5 years.  While this streamlined approach maintained current operations, this left zero funding for any future improvements or critical unforeseen events.

Volunteers at Hakioawa. Courtesy Franco Salmoiraghi.
For the past five years, the KIRC has worked diligently to establish a permanent funding source to allow for the continued restoration of the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve.  Past legislation proposed establishing a Molokini use fee and we have significantly expanded grants and donor programs, but these charitable contributions are severely limited to funding direct project costs rather than for critical infrastructure improvements that the KIRC maintains in order to enable access to Kaho`olawe. It has become clear that operations and maintenance of the Naval infrastructure and the protection of the State’s interest in Kaho`olawe can only be sufficiently funded by State-sponsored funding sources.

What happened this year?

Over the course of the previous 3 years, the KIRC has identified the Conveyance Tax as its most viable funding source.  Current beneficiaries include programs with similar objectives and outcomes as the KIRC, and past legislation identified Conveyance Tax revenue to be used to promote open space and environmental restoration. The KIRC saw much support this legislative session, with bills reaching the very last day of session.  In the end, we passed both the House and Senate Hawaiian Affairs and Water & Land Committees, but did not receive the funding release from the House Finance and Senate Ways & Means to authorize the funds.

What does this mean?

We have sufficient funds to meet our obligations both fiscally (grants obligations) and programmatically for FY2015 (July 2014 to June 2015).  At the end of FY2015, we will not have enough in the Trust Fund to afford another year of operations.  Based upon this, we will not be able to keep on-island operations going and will have to shut down our on-island volunteer program and Honokanaia Base Camp.  The failure of these bills puts all developments and future planning on hold until we regroup and strategize for the 2015 legislative session.

Volunteers learn how to plant on the hard-pan with KIRC staff. Courtesy Cory Yap.
What are we going to do?

We plan to keep the Reserve open for FY2015 and to continue the restoration projects for which we are currently receiving funding.  We are planning to re-introduce the same Conveyance Tax bill next session with the message that it’s “do or die” for us. We are also approaching the DLNR administration about general funding in the state budget and possibly introducing a general fund appropriation request.  At the same time, we have to develop contingency plans on how to transfer portions of KIRC’s responsibilities to other state agencies, or, how to completely shut down Reserve operations, prohibiting public access for all restoration, archaeological, educational and cultural activities. 

The island of Kaho‘olawe still remains a responsibility and obligation of the state. If the KIRC does not have sufficient funding to fulfill those obligations, another state agency may have to be assigned those obligations.

Courtesy Gadling.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Two Days in April

Reflections on Vision, Commitment and Shared Kuleana
by Stanton Enomoto

Contributor’s note: Stanton worked for the KIRC from 1995 to 2004. He is currently employed by the U.S. National Park Service and works on cultural resource and climate change issues in Hawai‘i and the Pacific. His remarks are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the KIRC or National Park Service.

Photo: Stanton Enomoto. April 10, 2004: The dawn of a new era on Kaho’olawe
Ten years ago, on April 9, 2004, we watched the U.S. Navy and their contractors lower the colors at Honokanai‘a and exchange wellwishes before boarding their helicopter back to Maui. As it lifted off and the rotor noise faded, the Navy’s decade-long cleanup on Kaho‘olawe came to a quiet end.

As the fanfare of the wind and waves greeted us at and beyond Kealaikahiki, the sun set on a 63-year era of U.S. military occupation and control of the island. The transition of Kaho‘olawe to the people of Hawai‘i was complete.

At Kealialalo, on April 10, the sun rose through clouds over Moa‘ulanui — dawning a new period for the KIRC. As the coast from Ki‘i to Wa‘aiki became illuminated, the kuleana to manage and advance Kaho‘olawe as a wahi pana and pu‘uhonua took hold. Restoration, research and cultural stewardship activities could now be implemented infull, and without interference.

Photo: Stanton Enomoto. Witnesses to the departure of the last Navy helicopters.
In 2004, I had the privilege of serving as the KIRC’s Acting Executive Director and oversaw the ending of the cleanup and turnover to State control. Although I left the KIRC later that year, I have maintained volunteer involvement to help and to learn from the island. So, I was especially gratified in April when I was given the opportunity to observe the 10-year anniversary of the Navy-KIRC turnover on Kaho‘olawe.

Joining a KIRC volunteer access trip with former Commissioner Burt Sakata led by KIRC Restoration Ecologist Paul Higashino, we relived our experiences from those two days in 2004. We watched the sunset at Honokanai‘a on April 9 and the sunrise at Kealialalo on April 10. We traveled to different parts of the island and labored with the volunteers on erosion control and native planting projects.

We reminisced about past experiences, assessed their meaning in today’s context and sought some future insight. During our return across the ‘Alalakeiki Channel, with the island receding amid the waves, I was awestruck by the historical resolve to the vision for Kaho‘olawe and reminded of the necessity to remain steadfast to restoring the kino of Kanaloa.

Beginning with the Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana’s landing in 1976 to protest the military’s use of the island, advancing the vision led to the end of the bombing, conveyance to the State, funding for the cleanup, and restoration of the island. During this time, many people and organizations came and went, multiple challenges and obstacles arose, and negotiations and compromises were undertaken. Still, the shared outcomes for Kaho‘olawe as a sacred and Hawaiian place were consistently advocated.

In the years ahead, Kaho‘olawe and all of Hawai‘i will be faced with many issues. Protecting cultural and natural resources, preserving traditions and practices, mitigating and adapting to global warming, and establishing and engaging a new Native Hawaiian governing entity are but a few examples. Compounding these issues is a socio-economic environment of escalating operational costs, bureaucratic constraints, conflicting or divergent ideals, and increased competition for declining resources.

Sustaining the vision for Kaho‘olawe can be a means to address these challenges, but it requires a focus similar to that which led to the 2004 transition, when individuals and organizations united to end the bombing and to clean the island.

Today, similar unification in collective impact is needed in order to achieve the goals of renewing our relationship to place, teaching us to live sustainably, increasing our cultural knowledge, and realizing our identity as Hawaiians and people of these islands. By aligning activities on-island to these goals and by sharing kuleana to achieve them, Kaho‘olawe can fulfill its role in the pae ‘āina as the piko of Kanaloa from which the Native Hawaiian lifestyle spreads.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

7th Graders Hoʻōla Kahoʻolawe

KIRC Executive Director Mike Naho‘opi‘i and Public Information Specialist Kelly McHugh spent the day with the 7th grade class of Punahou School yesterday during a follow-up visit to hear student’s solutions to Kaho‘olawe’s most pressing challenges. 

Over several weeks in January and February 2014, Junior School faculty Jeanne Lindgren, Demetra Kaulukukui, Todd Chow-Hoy and Ke‘alohi Reppun co-integrated an inquiry-based study of Kaho‘olawe into the science, math, English and social studies classes to "use the students' talents to create practical solutions to revitalize Kaho‘olawe."

Student groups presented five-minute proposals to KIRC staff and others offering specific ways to solve problems faced by Kaho‘olawe today. In Chow-Hoy's math class, for example, students used their knowledge of geometry and proportions to create a large-scale model of Kaho‘olawe's topography. Across the hall, Lindgren's science students used litmus tests to gauge the pH of rainwater, and geology to inform their understanding of the erosion affecting Kaho‘olawe's topsoil. Meanwhile, Kaulukukui's English and Reppun's social studies classes focused on strengthening students' academic researching, writing and oral presentation skills, "different people contributed ideas to the project that I would not have thought of by myself. This made the final project better," remarked one student.

Sample projects:

Spinning wheel trivia game offering facts about restoration tactics, historical facts, and plans for the future of Kaho‘olawe.
Puppet show educating the younger generation about the history and culture of Kaho‘olawe from the point of view of honu, seabirds and other fauna found in the Reserve.
Minesweeper video game in which players can uncover Kaho‘olawe chants, stories, photos and more if they successfully navigate through unexploded ordnance boundaries.
A puzzle of the island’s 'ili- or land boundaries composed of several watersheds that run from the island's central spine to the sea, educating the public about island geography.
Share proceeds of “fun fact” coffee cozies and gelato sales (with flavors like “Hakioawa Guava” and “Red Velvet Run-Off”) to both raise awareness and provide funds for restoration projects on-island.
Faculty will be selecting the top project ideas and inviting students to an volunteer access on Kaho‘olawe this coming June.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Building Bridges from Kaho'olawe to Kihei

In 2002 former Hawai’i governor Linda Lingle set aside an 8.261-acre parcel in Kihei, Maui for the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission’s (KIRC) future use as an information center, boathouse, and native Hawaiian plant nursery (reference Executive Order No. 3963, executed February 19, 2002). 
Currently occupied by the KIRC’s boathouse and by a section of the South Maui Coastal Heritage Corridor Trail, this property is the new focal point for a series of grants received through the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, Hawa‘i Tourism Authority, Atherton Family Foundation and Alu Like, Inc.’s Native Hawaiian Career and Technical Education Program.
Over the course of the next 2 years, the KIRC will collaborate with its committed partners and extraordinary volunteer base to develop a native plant nursery, traditional hale, walking trail with native plants and interpretive educational signage and a series of educational programs for the public. Ultimately, these projects will set the stage for the development of a Kaho‘olawe cultural center which will house permanent historical, cultural and scientific information and displays, provide classrooms for educational programs and office space for the Reserve’s administrative and operations staff.
Through a series of new community work days at the Kihei property, the KIRC has begun to strengthen understanding of and connection to Kaho‘olawe for Maui residents and visitors. Volunteers contribute invaluable time and effort preparing the area for these projects while learning about the history, culture and restoration of Kaho‘olawe; experiences they are able to take back home to share.
The restoration and preservation of Kaho‘olawe depends on a broad base of support, public awareness of its uniqueness, and the ability to educate as many as possible about the opportunities, challenges, and unique resources that the Reserve offers. The Kaho‘olawe cultural center will speak to this need, providing a vital opportunity to educate the public about Kaho’olawe and to provide non-Hawaiians with a connection to living Hawaiian cultural practices.

To make a tax-deductible donation to the Kaho‘olawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund in support of these projects, send your contribution to the KIRC at 811 Kolu Street, Suite 201, Wailuku HI 96793 or give online at (donor designation #130). Every dollar makes a difference.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Support the KIRC during this year's Legislative Session

Please submit testimony for KIRC bills SB2743 & HB2101


The purpose of this Act is to utilize a portion of state conveyance tax revenue to replenish the Kaho‘olawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund to be used for the long-term rehabilitation and maintenance of the Kaho‘olawe island reserve.


The mission of the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) is to implement the vision for Kaho‘olawe Island in which the kino (body) of Kaho‘olawe is restored and na poe o Hawai‘i (the people of Hawai‘i) care for to land. The Commission has pledged to provide for the meaningful and safe use of Kaho‘olawe for the purpose of the traditional and cultural practices of the native Hawaiian people and to undertake the restoration of the island and its waters. To many, Kaho‘olawe is a symbol of resilience, hope for the future of the Hawaiian Nation, and an opportunity to rebuild a cultural heritage.

The KIRC has received no public assistance since its 1993 inception, despite the federally mandated report citing “in the short term, federal funds will provide the bulk of the program support for specific soil conservation projects and related activities. In the longer term, however, state revenues will be needed to continue and enhance those activities initiated with federal funds."

As it stands, the Kaho‘olawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund will be depleted in 2016 – halting the restoration of Kahoolawe – unless we secure the commitment of the State and Federal Government as well as the people of Hawaii.


If you have not done so already, register with the Hawaii Legislature website at This will allow you to submit testimony without the need to re-enter required information, and receive hearing notice notifications by e-mail (generally, we are only given 72-hours notice that our bill has been scheduled for its next hearing, so receiving these timely notifications is important).

Visit and enter the KIRC bills (SB2743 & HB2101) into the “Bill Status/ Measure Status” box and click “GO”

Click “Submit Testimony” to enter your details and testimony (feel free to use the sample below – or – to customize your own testimony based on one or more of the talking points below).

*BONUS* Please take 5 minutes and submit your testimony to the Maui County Council Members addressed below. You may copy the emails and paste.;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

The KIRC SUPPORTS these bills for the following reasons:

As the only island listed on the National Register of Historic Places in its entirety, containing nearly 3,000 archaeological sites and features, it is imperative that the State preserves this important resource for current and future generations through this financial support system.

Without the KIRC’s ongoing protection of Kaho’olawe’s coastal ecosystem, including the adjacent nearshore environment and coral reefs that can be covered with, and choked by, derelict fishing gear, nets, a huge variety of plastics and other debris items, species  including the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, threatened green sea turtle, endangered hawksbill sea turtle, endangered humpback whale, endangered Hawaiian dark-rumped petrel, and endangered Newell’s shearwater will be put at risk. It is imperative that a trust fund be stabilized to continue this work.

Kaho‘olawe is a unique ecosystem preserving immensely valuable cultural and biological resources. It is surrounded by the richest marine ecosystems remaining in the Main Hawaiian islands and providing replenishment of fish and invertebrates to other islands’ waters. The KIRC’s massive restoration program designed to revitalize the ecology and cultural history of the island will benefit all of Hawai‘i's people for generations to come. Please support bill (SB2743 or HB2101).

As the only Island Reserve set up entirely in trust for a Native Hawaiian Sovereign Entity, the KIRC is well poised to change the economic landscape and life quality of Native Hawaiians and the communities in which they reside by means of a truly unique experience on the island of Kaho‘olawe. The State must maintain the responsibility of supporting the Kaho‘olawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund.


Decimated of its natural environment through years of over foraging and military bombing, an estimated 1.9 million tons of soil is lost annually on Kaho’olawe to erosion. Severely eroded landscapes cover one-third of the island, with runoff choking the Reserve’s pristine reefs and significantly impacting the ocean ecosystem. The Reserve’s inventory of 3,000 cultural sites and features – all part of the National Register of Historic Places – are in constant need of protection from these damaging circumstances. Despite an extensive, 10-year cleanup by the U.S. Navy, unexploded ordnance litter one-third of the island and all surrounding waters, leaving areas off-limits and life-threatening.

A portion of the Navy’s cleanup budget was allocated as a trust fund for the 1993-instated Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC), established by the State of Hawai‘i to manage Kaho‘olawe, its surrounding waters, and its resources, in trust for the general public and for a future Native Hawaiian sovereign entity. Since the Navy’s 2003 transfer of control-of-access to the State of Hawai‘i, the KIRC has worked with thousands of inspired volunteers to implement the vision for Kaho’olawe through its Restoration, Ocean, Cultural and Operations programs.

The KIRC has received no public assistance since its 1993 inception, despite the federally mandated report citing “in the short term, federal funds will provide the bulk of the program support for specific soil conservation projects and related activities. In the longer term, however, state revenues will be needed to continue and enhance those activities initiated with federal funds."

Follow us at or for further information and regular updates.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ka palupalu o Kanaloa

Meet Kanaloa kahoolawensis, a critically endangered species recognized under the US Endangered Species Act  and the only of its kind found in the wild.

Discovered in 1992 by the botanists Ken Wood and Steve Perlman of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, the single remaining plant grows on the cliffs of Ale'ale Pu'uloae on a sea stack off the coast of Kaho'olawe. Two specimens, grown from seed of the wild plant, live in propagation facilities on Maui: Ho`olawa Farms (Haiku) and Maui Nui Botanical Garden (Kahului).

Transplanted into a large redwood box in 2009, the plant specimen at Maui Nui Botanical Garden produced roots that go all the way through the container, with flowers and pollen samples collected and stored. (Read Maui writer Shannon Wianecki's brief overview here).

On Saturday, November 2, 2013, Hawaiian cultural practitioner, Kumu Hula, and Maui Nui Botanical Gardens Board member, Kapono`ai Molitau, gave an awe-inspiring blessing for the Kanaloa kahoolaweensis tree located at Maui Nui Botanical Gardens.  He performed an oli which called upon the Hawaiian deities of Kanaloa, Kāne, Lono, Kū and others to bring protection and blessings to the critically endangered plant and to encourage its growth.  The oli lasted for several minutes as he circled the new planter box and chanted with a  powerful voice that brought a profound feeling of positivity to the immediate area.  During the ceremony, Kapono`ai was accompanied by one of his sons, MNBG Garden Manager, Tamara Sherrill, and MNBG Executive Director, Joylynn Paman.  The chant was spiritually moving for those who were present and the positive mana that was felt from the oli and from being in the presence of such an incredible plant, was a reminder of our kuleana to do all that we can for the survival of Kanaloa and the enduring symbol that this plant is for the island of Kaho`olawe. – (Update offered by Maui Nui Botanical Garden Executive Director Joylynn Paman)

On the brink of extinction since its discovery in 1992, Kanaloa kahoolawensis is in danger from random stochastic events such as high winds, tsunami, hurricane, landslides, drought and fire, due to extremely small population numbers. While these random events simply cannot be prevented, motivating local propagation facilities will help to preserve this critically endangered native Hawaiian plant. Only diligence and a constant effort to propagate plants will help bring this endangered plant back into the lowland dry to mesic ecosystems it used to inhabit.

To support these efforts and the Restoration Program of the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission, visit

Every bit helps!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

JOIN US! Community Work Day: Saturday, Jan 25th

With its 1993-allocated Federal trust fund projected to sustain on-island operations only through 2016, the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission has begun to focus efforts on building a grassroots support system aimed at strengthening connections with the people of Hawai'i.

In 2002, Governor Linda Lingle set-aside an 8.261-acre parcel in Kihei, Maui for KIRC's future use as an information center, boathouse, and native Hawaiian plant nursery (reference Executive Order No. 3963, executed February 19, 2002).  Currently occupied by the KIRC's boathouse and by a section of the South Maui Coastal Heritage Corridor Trail, this property is the new focal point for a series of grants received through the Hawaii Community Foundation, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Atherton Family Foundation and Alu Like, Inc.'s Native Hawaiian Career and Technical Education Program. Over the course of the next 2 years, KIRC will collaborate with its committed partners and extraordinary volunteer base to develop a native plant nursery, traditional hale, walking trail with native plants and interpretive educational signage and a series of educational programs for the public. Ultimately, these projects will set the stage for the development of a Kaho'olawe cultural center on the Kihei property.

"A majority of residents have little knowledge of Kaho′olawe's importance to Hawaiians, and very few have had the opportunity to visit the island as a volunteer," remarks KIRC Executive Director Mike Nāho'opi'i. Volunteer participation involves a four-day stay on Kaho′olawe with 10-hour work days in the harsh sun and wind to remove non-native and re-plant vegetation, conduct surveys and honor ancient Hawaiian cultural practices. The KIRC has a two-year waiting list for those interested in volunteering and receives innumerable inquiries regarding other opportunities for involvement � exhibiting a clear demand for the experience and education that the Reserve offers. "By creating community work day opportunities on Maui, we aim to strengthen understanding of and connection to Kaho'olawe for countless residents and visitors."

The first community work day, scheduled for Saturday, January 25th from 8 AM - 12 PM, will focus on clearing invasive brush and grass. To reach the event area, enter the Kihei boat ramp parking lot and follow the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission signage. Closed-toe shoes, long pants and long sleeved shirts are recommended as we will be working in thick brush under kiawe trees.  Please bring gloves, water bottles, sun-protection, and snacks.

To make a tax-deductible donation to the Kaho'olawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund in support of these projects, send your contribution to the KIRC at 811 Kolu Street, Suite 201, Wailuku HI 96793 or give online at (donor designation #130). Every dollar makes a difference.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014 Legislative Session: Get Involved!

In preparation for the 2014 legislative session, (which begins today: January 15), we are inviting video submissions from school classrooms and other youth groups that address "how a bill becomes a law."

Using one or more of the KIRC’s legislative goals as a focal point, our hope is to ignite a new ROCK THE VOTE movement amongst the generation that will carry on the KIRC's restoration efforts on Kaho'olawe.


1) Review the KIRC's 3-part legislative package below and pick one (or more!) proposals to depict in live action.

2) Using your video camera, Smartphone, GoPro or other crafty device, create a movie (up to 3 minutes) illustrating how the bill of your choice will become law.

3) Share your video link with us using Dropbox, Facebook, YouTube or Vimeo.

4) The KIRC will share your entries with its entire social network!

Stay in touch with this year's legislative session by following us on Twitter ( and Facebook ( - or - email us at  for updates!
KIRC Legislative Goals for 2014

1) Conveyance Tax: KIRC proposes a portion of Conveyance Tax revenues to be used to supplement the Kaho’olawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund for the long-term rehabilitation and maintenance of the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve.  Currently this work is financed through grant awards and a percentage of the 1993 U.S. Navy cleanup budget, which is anticipated to be exhausted by the end of FY2016. Conveyance Tax is a progressive deed transfer tax applied to all transfers of real property. The balance is then transferred into the State’s general fund. Current recipients of conveyance tax funding include the Natural Area Reserves, Legacy Lands and Affordable Housing. 

2) Asset Forfeiture Bill: This bill authorizes the KIRC to use asset forfeiture or seizure of property in the event of a crime within the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve. The sheer volume and last-minute negotiations of bills heard last session (2013) caused the bill to stall before its final committee vote and presentation on the House Floor. Through ongoing communications with the Maui boating community, the bill has been amended to serve the best interests of everyone.  We hope for a hearing and vote this session.

3) Capital Improvements: KIRC requests Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding to develop a sustainable energy and infrastructure system for Kaho`olawe.  This request entails major infrastructure changes to the island that will sustainably expand access for the people of Hawai`i.  In support of creating the first energy independent island in Hawai`i, the largest portion of this request will support a stand-alone, battery storage photovoltaic energy system for Kaho`olawe that will reduce — and eventually eliminate — the need for fossil fuels on-island.