This opportunity has been a good experience for me, educational, being in nature, swimming with all the fish, and birds flying overhead. At Mokumanamana our team (Traditional Ecological Knowledge) held hands and offered a pule upon landing on the rocky coast. I feel as if we are visitors, we come all this way, so far away from home, the Windward-side of O'ahu, we swim, surrounded by fish and sharks and Ulua, we are just visitors, they swim by us and we say hi. I get the feeling like they enjoy our company, they come and check us out, but they say things like, "who you, this our place." Why would our ancestors have come up here? I think way back when, our Main Hawaiian Islands would have had way more fish than what we see up here, because of the fresh water. My daughter tells me that maybe our kupuna stopped up here first before discovering our larger islands to the south. Either way, Papahanaumokuakea is Hawai'i and I'm glad to visit this place cause these islands seem so lonely.
Some of the divers helping Midway staff clear invasive Verbesina from a walking path. (Photo: Hi'ilei Kawelo)
I come from Kahalu'u, O'ahu and Papahanaumokuakea reminds me of when I was young growing up in the country. Back then, never have nobody, so much fish. I remember being able to kick the he'e all the way to the shore. Those were the good-old days. Now there are so many people that fish in Kane'ohe Bay, the place where I grew up, the place of my grandparents and their grandparents. I hope my grandchildren have the opportunity to visit these places or at least learn from them so they can grow up to be good and responsible fishermen and women. I hope my family back home can learn from this place and see that we need to take only what we need so we can save the resources for our future generations. This is hard for me, we've done our damage back home, commercially fishing for years, pau already! Up here, I'm at peace, no more people, no more cars, no need for money, only the wide-open sea.
Pohuehue, a beach moring glory that was growing under the Verbesina. (Photo: Hi'ilei Kawelo)
It made me feel good to finally, after being at sea for three weeks, give back. We come up here, everyone, we take for the purpose of learning, we always need to give back, malama 'aina, that's just what you do. We call Hawai'i home, well part of that means we should all be doing are part to malama 'aina. We helped on Holaniku (Kure) and on Kuaihelani (Midway), our TEK team, all the scientists and some of the Hi'ialakai crew helped resource managers pull invasive Verbecina. It was nice to see everyone working together. The shrub has yellow flowers, kinda ugly, but at least it's easy to pull out. It was nice to see the native Pohuehue and Alena growing under it. Hopefully the natives will once again reclaim the island.
If everybody takes what they need, and not what they want our islands and resources will be a better place.