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  • Writer's pictureHakipuʻu ʻOhana

Why we resist

Kūʻē: to oppose, resist, protest

Above all, we resist to protect our way of life as mahiʻai (farmers) and kuaʻāina (people of the land); and to protect our wahi pana (sacred places) and iwi kupuna (ancestral bones) who root us in our culture and for which we can always access ancestral wisdom.

Preserving our traditions and subsistence way of life:

We are mahi’ai, so ʻāina is vital to our well-being. ʻĀina is ʻohana, it is living and has purpose. When we plant kalo, it is an exercise in resistance. Protesting isn’t always about holding signs or blocking a road. Protesting and resisting, for us, is planting huli (taro shoot). We have planted huli here for hundreds of years. Each huli in Hakipu’u represents a continuous and long-standing genealogy of our lives sustained by Hāloa. It demonstrates to all those who seek to usurp our ea (sovereignty) that we are still here, we exist, we are not going anywhere. Our existence is our resistance.

A mahiʻai are kiaʻi too:

Mahiʻai have always been kia'i to the ʻāina, as they protect & preserve some of our most sacred resources. In challenging times, it seems insufficient to be a simple kalo farmer. We have had to step out of the lo'i to fight the powers that seek to dispossess us and wrestle our loʻi kalo out of our hands. The more we access our native rights, the more we practice what we are professing, the more we access what we can -- the more we validate and protect that which we are fighting for.

Maintaining the life of our ʻāina and preserving our wahi pana and iwi kupuna ensures that we can access our ancestral wisdom and continue to sustain our children and moʻopuna to come:

We have had to defend our ancestral lands from adverse possession to ensure that our wahi pana and ancestral burials do not fall to harm. A few months ago, when I was on Molokaʻi with the film crew for the Hawaiian Soul film, my wife had to face alone the destruction of iwi kupuna on the kuleana lot that had belonged to the Naholowaʻa ʻohana.

She begged John Morgan to stop the desecration of the iwi kupuna, but he continued with grading and grubbing. The trees, soil, and stones where the burials lay were hauled out and deposited on the grounds of Kualoa Ranch. My wife requested to sift through the soil to see if any bones were taken, but John Morgan refused to let her inspect the soil. This was especially painful for my wife and our whole family. My grandmother planted with intention to honor those iwi kupuna and was very vigilant in protecting them. Now the land is an open, gaping wound.

My tutu and the other kupuna in Hakipuʻu also ensured that access along our ancient Kanohoanahopu trail would remain open. Today, Mr. Morgan has blocked access with a gate at the end of Johnson Road on the ʻInoʻino property where my kūpuna are buried. He has done grading and grubbing and taken out loʻi terraces and, potentially, iwi kupuna in the subsurface layer. He has broken an old cesspool and raw sewage has been spilling into the nearshore waters, polluting our ocean and natural resources, and may also be contaminating my ʻohana's ancestral graves.

For us, we had to take our stand and block the road from trenching that would destroy our iwi kupuna. In doing so, I was arrested. This act of resistance was necessary because without the spirit of our kupuna in the land, we would no longer have their wisdom and guidance.

- Kolea Fukumitsu


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