I submitted this testimony (someone read it for me) on May 2, 2002, 5 years after the Sanctuary was created, and the comments in my testimony reflect on a new plan for the next 5 years.
Dr. Jeffery Walters Co-Manager and Naomi McIntosh, Acting Manager, aloha my name is Kahu Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell, a life long resident of Maui, a Kupuna, Hawaiian Practitioner and a Hawaiian Priest.
As a previous member of the Hawaiian Humpback Whale Sanctuary Advisory Committee, having served several terms until my resignation last year, I can understand the immensity of your mission.
What is difficult for me to understand is that we had spent many years brain storming and coming up with solutions to counter the many problems that affected the environment of the Kohola (Humpback Whale), yet many of the solutions were not implemented thus far and it is again listed in your recent draft report as “Sanctuary Vision, Goals and Objectives”. I will try to categorically mention them.
First of all for many years I have always suggested that when using the Humpback Whale and because we are in Hawaii, use its Hawaiian name wherever possible. Your mentality should be that you are dealing with entities that the Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) cultural and spiritually deified as living gods. You would think that modern man would at least give respect to the Host culture by using its proper Hawaiian name for identification and not only its English name and scientific name. Case in point, on Page 2 of your drafts “Climate and Oceanography” under Marine Ecosystems – It mentions that over 25% of all Hawaii’s reef animals are endemic, meaning that they are found nowhere else on earth. One would think that it would be recognized by its Hawaiian names. The next paragraph on that page names numerous corals, fish, lobster, shrimp, crabs and sea urchins and not one reference to its Hawaiian name.
On page 4 under Human Uses and Economic Value of the Sanctuary. It mentions how the Native Hawaiians have long had a close relationship with their marine environment. That concept was known as the Ahu Pua’a system that went from the top of the mountain to the deep ocean. Its resources were managed both on land and in the ocean and for thousands of years the system worked without a flaw. Western man came along and disrupted the entire process.
Under Page 4 Sanctuary Purpose is to protect the humpback whales and their habitat with the Hawaiian Islands marine environment.
This should be the mandate of the Hawaiian Humpback Whale Sanctuary. I can specifically remember making motions to the affect that the Advisory Committee inform the hotels, golf courses and the building industry that the runoffs from construction jobs near the shore is causing point source pollution that is harming the health of the ocean. Our most pristine waters and reefs are dying around Maui especially in the Waialea, Kihei area, a prime calving and breeding ground of the Humpback Whale. Don’t you think that whatever enters the ocean would harm the coral and create algae blooms, which would eventually pollute the waters in the Sanctuary?
Why is the Sanctuary’s goal of protecting humpback whales and their habitat is very important for the continued success of Hawaii’s Whale Watching industry? Should it not be that the industry should be controlled so as not to interfere with breeding and birth of the whale? Has the Sanctuary every put a limit on the amount of whale watching boats that are allowed in the ocean at one time? We hear off all kinds of “incidents” where boats are too close to the whale or that they are chasing the whales to get “close” so their passengers have a good “photo opt”. The humpback whales should come first before the Whale Watching industries don’t you think so?
It is common sense that like humans, one would think that the whales would like some privacy during pro-creation or giving birth; it should be a special thing, not have thousands of eyes “watching”. The Hawaiian word for Sanctuary is Pu’uhonua, a protected place, peaceful and serene. Is that the correct meaning of the Hawaii Humpback Whale Sanctuary?
In the section of the Vision, Goals and Objectives, is that not what the original Advisory Committee set out to do? I think it is. I would like to see these goals finally completed.
There is nothing in this draft about any plans to deal with the stranding of Whales on the shores of the islands. It just did not happen now; it’s been going on for a long time even before this Sanctuary was created. Being that the Sanctuary should be dealing with whale stranding. There should be a team put together by all interested agency both government and private. Native Hawaiian cultural practices pertaining to the importance of proper blessings, when the whale is on shore or returned to the ocean should be followed.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources did not allow me to go with the remains of the Blainsville Whale that died on the beach in Kihei and that is insulting to a Hawaiian Priest.
The dwarf whale that washed up on Oneuli Beach in Makena last Saturday was taken to the Land fill to be disposed off, no prayers were said. It is very hurtful to be brought up as a Native Hawaiian and to be told to follow our cultural rules, then denied the right to carry out our cultural and spiritual mandate. You who represent the agencies should have better respect to the Kupuna (elders) of the land.
Mahalo for allowing my testimony to be read by Hannah Bernard, as I have a prior commitment.