Stories from the Blue: Uncle Sol

June 2017

"The manner in which we care for our land is going to be the manner in which the ocean is going to reflect that," explains Sol Kaho‘ohalahala. Sol is a seventh-generation resident of the island of Lāna‘i, which is surrounded by the waters of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Watch our video to hear his Story from the Blue.


I think for me what's important is to understand the entire island of Lāna‘i sits within the humpback whale sanctuary.

We're the only island that is encompassed totally by the sanctuary waters.

What is our responsibility on Lāna‘i to the sanctuary when our contribution at this point in time is sediment and erosion that's letting itself into the sanctuary waters and at the same time destroying our near-shore reef areas?

Hanohano ke ‘ike no Maunalei

Kepuehu pohai ku I ka ‘io

Aloha. My name is Sol Kaho‘ohalahala and I'm kupu‘āina, which is a longtime resident of the island of Lāna‘i.

I'm seventh generation Lāna‘ian, so this is home.

The kinds of land-use practices that we have engaged on the island of Lāna‘i have become part of the decline of the island and its resources and as a result of that the sanctuary waters are going to be impacted by the fact that the island of Lāna‘i is eroding.

It's being denuded.

So it becomes important to me to understand then if an island sits within the sanctuary and the idea is that we want to manage and protect the sanctuary and its ecosystems as well as species that are threatened or endangered, use and the land use part of our island plays an important role in trying to maintain the pristine conditions of our ocean.

We have had a ranching history of over a hundred years that began in the 1850s.

That ranching introduced to the island of Lāna‘i cattle, sheep, goats, and then more recently we introduced deer to the island.

The animals continue to denude the island of Lāna‘i.

So when this denuding is left unchecked and then heavy rain events come what you'll see is that Maunalei will begin sending out sediment and erosion.

You'll see that all of this loose dirt and all of this kind of, you know, runoff, with a heavy downpour, can only go to this lowest point of the island and that means entering into the reef environment.

The entire east shoreline area where the reef fringes are will be covered with red.

The manner in which we care for our land is going to be the manner in which the ocean is going to reflect that.

So if we're good about taking care and making sure that the island is intact and we're not allowing sedimentation and erosion to continue, then our ocean waters on the east shorelines within the sanctuary should be pristine and clean.

If we fail to do that, then we can be assured that we'll be losing those environments that are
important to us culturally as part of our sustenance and our way of life.

So in the chant this is Hanohano ke ‘ike No Maunalei.

Glorious to see is Maunalei.

Hanohano ke ‘ike no Maunalei

Kepuehu pohai ku I ka ‘io

I'm hoping that our work with the sanctuary will help us to understand that we have much more responsibility than just looking at the sanctuary waters, but we have to understand its relationship to the land itself.

We want to make that connection, that's a cultural connection, of mauka to makai.