Nā Meʻe: Hawaiian Heroes – Part 3

#73 in the Moʻolelo series

Kamehameha Paiʻea

No list of heroes would be complete without Kamehameha himself. As I wrote in the post with the overly long title “E Naʻi Wale nō ʻOukou i ke Kuʻu Pono ʻAʻole Pau: Continue my Pono Deeds, They are Not yet Complete – The Death of Kamehameha

the legacy of Kamehameha was the end of wars, political unification of the islands under one nation, and socio-cultural unification of the people under one shared identity. The war and bloodshed of Kamehameha’s wars had a larger purpose. The unification it brought allowed Hawai‘i to deal with the emerging threat from foreign powers. Unification was also a basis for the establishment of Hawai‘i as a sovereign nation. And Kamehameha gave the new nation the name of his home island, thus giving all Hawaiians the identity they share and maintain today.

In the Kingdom period, the Hawaiian archipelago was called “Ko Hawaiʻi Pae ʻĀina” – not the Hawaiian Islands – Hawaiʻi’s Islands, that is, the islands belonging to, or conquered by, Hawaiʻi Island. The name suggests conquest, rather than unification.

The Mauna Kea Protectors

Up to this point, Iʻve avoided including living, active people in the historical lists Iʻve made because it “gets political.” But letʻs make no mistake, what is going on at Mauna Kea is a heroic effort of Hawaiians putting their foot down and saying, collectively, “enough.” They are declaring aloha, as Hawaiians always have, but at the same time, kapu. Enough.

Mauna Kea
(source: wikimedia commons)

I got to know Kahoʻokahi Kanuha somewhat when he or I spoke at various events. If one gets the impression that this is a wild-eyed or aggressive activist, the reality is something quite different. I found him to be very calm, extremely thoughtful and, it goes without saying, dedicated. Here is the young Hawaiian who knows who he is that Kekuni Blaisdell had hoped to see. The same is true of longtime Mauna Kea activist Kealoha Pisciotta, who, as a former technician at Mauna Kea telescopes, has serious credibility and knows of what she speaks. Andre Perez I know quite well, and the word “dedication” scarcely describes his and his wife’s commitment to Hawaiian causes, Mauna Kea being chief among them. The same is true again for Pua Case. As for other leaders such as Kaleikoa Kaʻeo, Jon and Jamaica Osorio, Walter Ritte, Noelani Kaʻōpua-Goodyear, Imaikalani Winchester and above all Pua Kanahele, their reputations deservedly precede them. Those who ask why Hawaiians canʻt agree would do well to look to Mauna Kea for an example of Hawaiian unity, including the support of The Royal Order of Kamehameha I.

Kahoʻokahi Kanuha spoke with me at the Halawai Kūʻokoʻa speaker series, not on Mauna Kea, but on the importance of ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi.

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