By CHARLES K. MAXWELL SR.
Ku i ka mauna is exactly what happened Feb. 20 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater when 900 people attended the premiere of the film "Haleakala: A Sense of Place," produced and directed by Maui filmmaker Jay April.
The premiere was hosted by the Maui Economic Opportunity board. Hula Kahiko was performed by Ka Pa Hula O Ke Kula Kaia
puni O Maui, Hawaiian language immersion students. There was never-before-seen footage of native birds and a breathtaking display of upland native plants assembled by the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Ho'olawa Farm, Punana Leo and Kula Kaiapuni. A panel consisting of myself, Kaleikoa Ka'eo of tho Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission and Paul Coleman of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy gave presentations and answered questions from the audience.
Since ancient times, kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiians) have revered this sacred mountain of Haleakala (House of the Sun) as a wao akua (place where the gods live) because of Pele (goddess of the volcano), Poliahu (goddess of the snow) and the demigod Maui who stood on the peak to slow the sun so his mother, Hina, could dry her tapa cloth. In ancient times the dead were taken up Ala Hea Kala (Path to the Sun, its original name) to Leleiwi overlooking the crater and thrown into a pit to be with the gods.
The 27,284-acre Haleakala National Park was established in 1916. By executive order, Gov. William Quinn established the Haleakala High Altitude Observatory Site, a total of 18.1 acres at Kolekole, which means rusty brown color like the skin of the kole fish. Today this "saddle" area is referred to as "Science City." Since their inception, Haleakla National Park and Science City have not respected the mountain's cultural importance and instead have concentrated on its geological features and its use for astronomy and national defense.
Today it's a miserable experience to drive 21 miles to the top, having to be on the lookout for scores of people riding bicycles down Haleakala and having to follow large tour buses up and down the mountain. As a kupuna for Haleakala National Park, I have asked that the number of people going up for the sunrise be regulated and monitored. Sometimes there is nowhere to park. Too many people are "loving Haleakala to death" by their presence.
Very soon, the impact on this sacred mountain must stop and all users be regulated so that its natural resources are protected. For many years I have asked this question: Why was Haleakala (Ala Hea Kala) sacred to our ancestors and it is not sacred now? Is there a double standard for the Hawaiian culture and that of the Western culture with its quest for science through astronomy? Some of us have insisted for years that Haleakala's cultural attributes and Hawaiian protocols should be respected in addition to allowing visitors to enjoy the view and the dedication to science endeavors, but the pleas have fallen on deaf ears until now.
Finally, after all these years, the film "Haleakala: A Sense Of Place" will establish the proper respect that should be afforded to a site that is seen from all Maui, Molokai, Kahoolawe and Lanai, and is a wahi pane, a sacred place to us all.
Hawaiians have to be involved and question any further building on Haleakala and insist that the Hawaiian cultural protocols be followed. We must insist that a master plan of the entire mountain be developed so landowners do not think of building another tramway to Haleakala. Its sacredness should be enjoyed by everyone, now and in the future.
Kahu Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr. is a Hawaiian cultural consultant. He lives in Pukalani. For more information on Haleakala and its Hawaiian Cultural Association, go to http://moolelo.com/haleakala.html or http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/haleakala/cultural.
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