See You On The Mauna!

“Get up, stand up! Stand up for your rights! Get up, stand up! Don’t give up the fight!” -Robert Nesta Marley

My last post helped to relieve some of those feelings that I had deep within my na’au. I was better able to explain how I felt the situation was being viewed versus how I viewed it. There still lingered something though. A sort of longing heartache that echoed through my bones. It was subtle, but it was there.

I knew what I should be doing, but I kept making excuses: I have a meeting; who is going to watch the kids?; I’m too busy. Then that Sunday after the post, I burned myself pulling a pizza out of the oven. It hurt and the sting penetrated deep in my arm. Though I couldn’t see it, I knew I got a burn mark. I looked at it in the mirror. When I saw it, I knew what I had to do.

It was a ho’ailona, a sign from my kūpuna to stop ignoring those feelings and do something. No excuses, just go.

The next day I messaged my family to ask if anyone was going to the Mauna. In a matter of minutes, some of us had flights to go that weekend. So instead of “Insta-bragging” i’d share my experiences here, in hopes of encouraging others to “just go” and stop the excuses. Our Mauna needs us. If not you, who? If not now, when?

I share with you this journal of my experiences, reflections and even some tips from my recent self-discovery. I hope to impart some of this to you, the reader, to provide a little insight to what is happening there, but mostly I feel the need to just put out there what I feel in hopes others aren’t afraid to do the same. I’ll be honest. I was afraid to go alone and luckily I didn’t have to. Hopefully after reading, you’ll feel a little less afraid and stop making excuses and “just go” too. See you on the Mauna…


Day 1: Saturday, June 27, 2019

4:00 a.m. – It’s too damn early to be up on a Saturday. I slog through getting ready. Kiss the wife good-bye and she says “I hope you find what you’re looking for.” Me too dear, me too.

5:30 a.m. – After picking up my family, we are at the airport checking in. Looks like there are lots of people going to the Mauna this morning. Everyone in their Red and yellow shirts with slogans like “See you on the Mauna,” “Aloha ‘Āina,” and “Defend Mauna Kea” happy and greeting each other. My family isn’t that different, except my shirt reads “Loyal to my soil.” We’ll be seeing these folks a lot this weekend I think.

6:47 a.m. – Off we go! Very excited, but also nervous. I’m not used to this so this is all new to me. Like the first day of school. Will they like me? Will I fit in? That’s part of the excitement.

9:00 a.m. – Good flight, picked up a truck on a great deal, and a had a good meal at Pinetrees Cafe in preparation. Before we go up, gotta make a Walmart run. The Lāhui put out a call for supplies needed at Pu’uhonua o Pu’uhuluhulu, we all need to answer.

10:00 a.m. – And here we go. It’s a long drive up from Kailua-Kona just to get to Daniel K. Inouye Highway (a.k.a Saddle Road). Lots of time to plan what to do, go over arrangements, and wax-on about philosophy. Lots of time, apparently.

A bit after 11:00 a.m. – Traffic is being handled really well, found parking and put up our Hae Hawai’i (upside down, of course). A bit of a trek with the supplies but its all good and they’re getting dropped off. First off, need to offer our ho’okupu at the ‘ahu. I made a couple of ti leaf lei to present, and included anthurium from my great-grandmother’s plant. We ask for permission and blessings in our own way and I hope its enough.

Closer to noon (not really looking at the time right now) – Decided that the next thing we should do is take a lay of the land while the weather is good and hiked up to the top of Pu’uhuluhulu. Went the wrong way apparently and the hike was a bit steeper than it needed to be. Did appreciate the shoe scrubbers and spray to prevent the spread of Rapid ‘Ohi’a Death.

Around 1:00 p.m. – A couple of us went to kokua at the kitchen, I went along with my brother-in-law to help secure the Kūpuna tent, adding additional rope over the top in an “x” pattern that should help keep the tarp from losing its bungees or tearing in higher winds.

Just after that – Got my learning on at Pu’uhuluhulu University. Free tuition, free classes, expert professors. I was particularly interested in the climate change class and Dr. Noelani Puniwai put climate change into a Hawaiian perspective that is still blowing my mind…3:00 p.m. – Went to a mandatory briefing on legal rights, Kapu Aloha, and other matters that every visitor should know. These guys were keeping it real, saying how things can happen at anytime and if you’re not in a position to go to jail, you should probably pay attention. Also the need to keep Kapu Aloha so no one messes up all the progress that was made. Rethinking bringing the keiki up here.

6:00 p.m. – Evening protocol on the access road. Amazing. All these Hawaiians. Chanting, dancing, singing.

7:00 p.m. – Time to get some grub. Food lines are long, but it is the weekend, plus all the food was donated by Native Hawaiian Education Association (mahalo) this weekend, so a little different for these folks I think. But up here there are medics, a “Kanaka Cosco [sp],” “Kanaka Uber,” and a storage area where you can get warm clothes or a blanket. All of this, food included is free to any and all. Talk about nation building.

8:00 p.m. – Time to get back to the truck, its getting cold. Not gonna be sleeping well, I know already, but its one night. I can’t imagine doing this for two weeks already. But first some stargazing.

Reflection on Day 1: I’m going to bed tonight feeling a little uneasy. As someone wrote on a Facebook post, it really does seem as though some folks are treating this as “Maunachella.” And try as I might, I still feel a bit like an outsider looking in. Overall, this thing has been well organized, almost to the point of many people seeming “fake” at some points. I’m not saying the whole thing isn’t pono, cause it is 100-percent, its the actions of some of the “visitors” that make me question my own role here. I’ll sleep on it and see if tomorrow brings something different.

Day 2: Sunday, July 28, 2019

5:30 a.m. – Not a great sleep. Its cold. A little depressed after reflecting on Day 1, but lets see what today has to offer, i’m on the Mauna, got to keep the Mana positive. Ran into a friend and he told me, with clouds coming from his breath, its 47 degrees. Brrrrrrr.

Sometime around 7:00 a.m. – Morning protocol this morning was awesome. Didn’t get to chant up the sun due to the clouds and mist, but there was just this feeling this morning that wasn’t around at the protocol yesterday.

9:30 a.m. – That was a long morning protocol. Full disclosure, I don’t know too many oli. But I did know one so that was cool. Caught some of the talk from Ken Lawson on our rights and civil disobedience, then Project Kuleana offered some mele for the Mauna. A lot more people here today. Rumor is Jr. Gong will be here sometime.

10:00 a.m. – Time to get some learning on again at Pu’uhuluhulu University. One professor talking about stream of consciousness in the form of rap; another, a microbiologist relating cell farts and historical place names; and Dr. Jon Osorio and his daughter Jamaica singing and teaching. Huge crowds for all of them.

Noon – Mid-day protocol but we need to pack up and head on down the Mauna. The people keep streaming in as we feel a bit sad leaving, but already checking our schedules to make a return trip. A big exhale as we leave our Mana on the Mauna to protect her.

Reflection on Day 2: Remember when I said some things felt “fake” yesterday; not this morning. As we chanted and were reminded why we were there, tears streamed down my face. A reminder that historically we have done what is pono and that we continue that on Mauna Kea. Also reminded that the point is to get more people there and maybe those that only post pictures are influencers that can help get the numbers up. Its easy to take down a few of us. Its hard to take down all of us.

Overall Reflection:

  • After all of the experiences I had on Mauna Kea, I can say that there is nothing fake about it. What I did realize is that the Kia’i there have that place locked down. All of this other stuff at Puuhuluhulu is basically to provide support services to all those offering their own Mana. You can’t have 1,000 people just sitting around on the side of the road and expect Kapu Aloha. Providing food, lessons, a place to provide their ho’okupu to the Mauna all gives us an opportunity of being involved and get the juices flowing on the next steps.
  • I don’t know too much about being Hawaiian. I guess I do in my own way but there is a lot that I can still learn and I am happily doing it.
  • It takes all kines. The maunachella folks, the celebrities, they all play a role. So while I might not like it, they serve a purpose and that is towards the common goal.
  • It must be super tough to be Hawaiian and be on the other side for enforcement. A woman from Moloka’i talked about her DLNR husband and if he had to choose they would really have to talk about it. A National Guardsman I met up there said he’d take a year in Iraq over having to come up here and work against his people. There is always a choice, but those consequences are harsh.
  • Kapu Aloha always. This is the one thing keeping everything from falling apart. Its what separates us today from our past actions and is a model for the future and the world.
  • We are in it to win it. I understand this more from actually being there. People think its a show, and it is, a show of strength. The real warriors are there everyday, we’re just tourists, but we need tourists too, to get the word out and just be there.


A few tips if you do plan on seeing me on the Mauna:

  • Hydrate and sunscreen. Can’t be stressed enough. Its cold so you won’t know until its too late.
  • Altitude sickness is no joke, so watch for the symptoms (nausea, headaches, uneasy breathing, fatigue); Its especially hard on kids, which brings us to:
  • Kids on the Mauna isn’t advised. I know you want to share this with your keiki and they can probably learn a lot, but between altitude sickness and the real danger involved and potential consequences of the actions of the protectors, probably best to either plan accordingly or just leave them at home.
  • Learn an oli, mele, or hula if you can; if you know some of them, sing or chant loud and proud
  • Don’t forget your ho’okupu, either the public or private one.
  • Help out the lahui when they put out the call and provide whatever you can in supplies, giving a ride, helping out in one of their tents, etc.
  • Be there because your Kupuna are calling not for the social media likes and videos; Unless you’re an influencer that can bring more people, be there because you need to be there not cause its the “in” thing to do.
  • Kapu Aloha-observe it at all times. It only takes one bad apple to spoil everything

We are already talking about going back. Come with me. or just go. See you on the Mauna.

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