‘Scared for my culture’

  • Ryan Collins / The Garden Island

    Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami hugs Hi‘ilani Chow after she gave compelling testimony about the future of Hawaii if the controversial Mauna Kea telescope is built, Wednesday at the Lihue Civic Center.

  • Ryan Collins / The Garden Island

    Preston Ornellas, left, talks to Kauai Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami and Kauai Police Department Chief Todd Raybuck at the Lihue Civic Center Wednesday afternoon as part of an impromptu “listening meeting.”

LIHUE — In an emotional meeting Wednesday, Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami and new police chief Todd Raybuck called an impromptu “listening meeting” at the County Civic Center Rotunda, after recent protests over the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.

The meeting ended after Kawakami and Raybuck fielded questions for over two and a half hours relating to public safety, protesting rights, native Hawaiian rights and water pollution on the Westside of the island.

Kawakami credited Raybuck with the idea of holding the meeting to address the community and to get ahead of the protests on Kauai that have increased in intensity, coinciding with the protests on the Big Island over the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope

Kawakami said there has been talk of protesters closing highways or the airports on Kauai, and one attendee asked Kawakami during the meeting, “what other choice do we have?”

“I’m scared for my culture and the future of my culture and for my people,” 17-year-old Hi‘ilani Chow said, fighting back tears. “If Mauna Kea goes down then my culture goes down.”

Chow and her mother were joined by around 30 people at the meeting that Raybuck said was a chance to talk with the community and be proactive in their approach.

Kawakami stated he is in favor of the TMT project and he believes it will help provide a living wage for people will employ, even if people disagree with his stance.

“I think first and foremost making things right with our host culture is of the utmost importance,” Kawakami said. “With that being said, if you take a look at incarceration rates when you take a look at who is living in poverty, I wouldn’t be able to say that money is not important. In this society, if you don’t have any kind of way to provide, that’s where you can see people falling into depression and you see suicide rates and who is committing suicide.

“When we ask people ‘who is losing hope?’ It’s our host culture, but I think of the utmost importance is to pay respect to our host culture, to protect our wahi pana (place with a pulse) and that is why TMT is such a divisive issue.”

Preston Ornellas, draped in a Hawaiian flag, testified how he feels about the TMT and the Mauna Kea protests on the Big Island.

“This is a deep-rooted issue in me, myself, in my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents,” Ornellas said. “I watched my grandma practice in silence and secret in her own home. They don’t speak Hawaiian outside of their home but every morning I used to hear her singing in Hawaiian because she was punished for speaking Hawaiian outside of her own home…This thing is heavy, it’s big and we’re not speaking just on the surface.”

Ornellas pointed to the youth and people like Chow that will change the future of Hawaii with tools like social media at their disposal.

At the end of the meeting, everyone joined hands after forming a circle with Kawakami and Raybuck in a symbol of unity and peace. They sang Hawaiian songs and could be seen smiling together before disbanding.


Ryan Collins, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or rcollins@thegardenisland.com.

  1. Major Lee Hung July 18, 2019 2:48 am Reply

    The real caption should read,” Mayor and Chief give hugs to Snowflakes “.

    1. Doug July 18, 2019 1:18 pm Reply

      your comment made my day (along with rk669’s comment). Thanks!

  2. rk669 July 18, 2019 6:06 am Reply

    The Sky is falling! NOT! Get a life,Crybaby!

  3. Makani B. Howard July 18, 2019 9:45 am Reply

    They act as if the whole mountain is being taken over. It is not. There are over 200 sites that are important up there that are not being disturbed.

    I understand the cultural importance, but it is still there and can be continued to be used. Things change, learn to live with change. This is not an “all or nothing” situation. The mountain did not go away. They did not move our important sacred sites. They are still there. They are not building a missile range, or taking coal out of the land, or cutting down trees. They are searching the heavens. Just what our ancestors did.

  4. Charlie Chimknee July 18, 2019 10:03 am Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    While this information pertains to Hawaiians and part Hawaiians, you’ll see why it implies to us all. Mayor Derek mentioned some issues that impacts way beyond just the Hawaiian Culture as it impacts negatively all peoples.

    Not many generations ago, perhaps 12 generations, the Hawaiians and their predecessor Polynesians going back historically forever in time back to their prehistoric roots…ate food…in order to sustain their lives.

    The food was unique, much the same as some other cultures in many places of the world.

    The food was an all Natural provision to sustain life from Ke Akua. Ke Akua relying on Nature on earth to perpetuate nutrition for all the species. Otherwise why would we all desire food on a regular basis, and without for some weeks we die.

    Far Back Enough in the “then” time on Kauai all food was local to Kaua’i, and much if not all was Canoe Food, food brought from prior islands, food known to sustain humans.

    Over the recent generations as other cultures and outside businesses began more and more to import foods (bananas on Kauai from Peru?) and begin outside food production practices, the original foods pure of Nature began to dwindle in use. To where now instead of food being 100% food…from Nature…there are now chemicals, one being addictive sugar in every bite, in almost every food…chemicals in every food…to the point where now we can look at it as there is still some food in the chemicals.

    Sugar and chemicals in every bite starting from baby formula to your last piece of pie. Sugar as a sales gimmick…SUGAR a simple man processed subtle drug used to disguise its deceptive practice to perpetuate purchases. Children coming down from their sugar “high” throwing tantrums until drugged with a soda, a candy bar, an ice cream….whew that worked.

    But that is the subtle man made chemicals harvested from cane and beets and some synthetic made from petroleum.

    It used to be a promise of a chicken in every pot to now it is a new given…sugar in every bite. Sugar the way to being overweight accumulating into OBESITY.

    OBESITY has side effects, just like the drugs advertised on TV, AND FOR BOTH OBESITY AND THE DRUGS SOME SIDE EFFECTS ARE LETHAL.

    Drug side effects can be lethal over a short period of time. For sugar the side effects are usually an accumulation over decades….diabetes, fatty heart or heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure…the list goes on with competing drugs, seen on TV, for every one of their sing song side effects.

    They say the doctor of the future will give no drugs but will only scold you up and down for eating that which is killing you quicker than Nature would allow otherwise.

    And we haven’t even gotten around to Mayor Derek mentioning suicide or the jails with too many people inside.

    So the Chronic Degenerative Diseases continue to increase in numbers and in more and more people to the point where each of those diseases are epidemic as even Alzheimer’s is now epidemic in the elderly.

    So Mayor Derek, your concern over suicide is real…but suicide is a side effect, it is called Broken Brain nowadays as are so many other mental conditions brought on in this modern society saturated with petrochemicals.

    The petrochemicals have taken over the food industry from food’s conception at the seed level, GMO SEEDS REQUIRING PETROCHEMICAL POISONS TO Acclimate the seed, the future FOOD plant, TO ITS COMING PESTICIDE, INSECTICIDE, HERBICIDE near daily dosage of poison.

    Unless the food is Farm to Table, the food Is taken to the factory to be canned, packaged, bottled, refined and the nutrients removed, alterated in so many ways, changes to its natural shape, flavor, and color, and preserved, and more added petrochemicals.

    And let’s not forget all petrochemicals are carcinogenic, that is , cancer causing, and they are in your food.

    Too many of the ingredients of our food, they are written out on the Ingredient (Warning) labels on the packaging, are synthetic chemicals made from petroleum, and the others are other altered chemicals; and they have the nerve to call it food and it is killing us and the diseases are there to prove it. And the doctors are merely standing by, over paid, with more chemical drugs to treat the effects, the diseases, with no effort to stop or remove the cause or allow the body to perform its built in healing process.

    Mayor Derek, we deserve better, the Hawaiians do, and so do the rest of us, as does your family.

    Obese people are a walking menu of internal Chronic Degenerative Diseases. And no one is educating them or helping them, unless you foolishly think a prescription is help…when prescriptions are only more chemicals, many of which are Carcinogenic and feeding the $4 Trillion dollars a year Medical-Chemical Profit Industry. To put a comparison to it, the Military only gets $350 billion dollars a year.

    All of this sugar, petrochemicals, food additives, Agriculture poison on and in our foods contributes to the Broken Brain condition which includes depression and suicide.

    It’s the food Mayor Derek, there IS something we can do about it.

    Don’t get me started on the ill effects for some people on pakalolo. It ain’t called “crazy smoke” for nothing…Broken Brain…depression…the individual can put the brakes on this…abstain or finish life early.

    Poison chemicals and Drugs are epidemic, the food, the pharmacy, the farms, the water, the air, the aina, and it all circulates through the. Blood and some to the Brain.

    The end of the era of a Pill for Every ill is a time that has come out of necessity, same for Disease Care.

    You say we need The 100’ wide or long (?) telescope…And you say we need to see how stars are born, who are dead already before their light arrives visibly on earth. Which would you rather know about…silly …Twinkle Twinkle Little Star…or how to prevent cavities, rotten teeth, root canals, fillings that destroy the 300 yards of dentine nutrition providing to the teeth fluid vessels in each tooth, pain, inflammation, infection, more drugs, dentures and implants…how a bout a lifetime of healthy teeth…it’s doable but not with the current system…WE DESERVE BETTER.

    WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE BROKEN BRAIN, THAT WHILE YOU CANNOT afford Health (disease) Insurance , the illegal immigrants get it for free.

    Let’s get Healthy, Let’s get Natural…Naturally…! Rely on Nature not pseudo science. WE DESEVE BETTER…!

    1. Steven McMacken July 18, 2019 12:44 pm Reply

      I’m reasonably certain that in that meandering mumble-jumble of nouns and verbs that there must have been a coherent thought, but I just got too darned tired to attempt to find it. My takeaway was, however, that you’re concerned about tooth decay and want to know how to stop it. The answer is pretty simple: just brush and floss your teeth every day. There. Problem solved. Now would you please get out of the way and let us build our telescope?

    2. manongindashadow0711 July 18, 2019 3:56 pm Reply

      one word, “MENTAL!”

  5. Boots on the Ground aka W(V)ai July 18, 2019 1:22 pm Reply

    To me it seems that real problem with “The Kanaka Maoli or Hawaiian” situation is that we are not respected as a people. Every other Nationality has a Nation. We are not a recognized people.

    It has been proven in the past and present countless times in our History and Present.

    What was taught now, meant a hanging before. A truth untold. The defense of one self meant death, as it does today for my people. We are arrested for peaceful protesting for the desecration of our most sacred of lands. Kulia I ka nu’u,!!! Or Rise to the Summit. Echos in my ears or pepe’au.

    To Reach For The Highest is Ingrained in our DNA. Make the Land Prosperous is our Curse, Purpose, and Being. The government wishes to stop and exploit our culture, land and people.

    We are not here to serve others, we are her to serve the Land, the Land we belong too. We don’t own it, we belong to it, we are the Representative o ka aina. We are the caretakers. The descendants of Royalty and Warriors. Yet we protest peacefully like our Queen did. Is it a mistake? Most think so. We do not, we are alive and thriving and now you cannot sweep us under the rug any longer.

    Mauna Kea is not source and problem of our situation, but it is the tip of the ice berg of it. Go build a telescope on Mt. Fuji? Go build one on Stonehenge! Build one next to the White House! The Eiffel Tower! The Colosseum? The Parthenon, The Done of the Rock? The Palace? The Great Wall? The Kremlin? The Pyramids? St. Peter’s Square? What do think would happen?

    There are many type of Hawaiians!

    Hawaiian Blooded, Mea Koko

    Hawaiian Blooded born else where, Mea Koko

    Hawaiian Born but no “Mea Koko ole”

    Hawaiian at Heart with “Aloha no” true Allegiance to Kanaka Maoli and Hawaii nei.

    Only one Kanaka Maoli!!!

    Then you have those other Hawaiian Rebels, some of them are called Christian’s!!!!!!!!

    If you want your telescope, we want our Nation and Sovereign rights as dual Citizens!!!!!!

    Release our Kapuna!!!!! Release our lands!!!!!! Release the chains bestowed on our people!!!! The pain from the past and present!!!!

    Imua Kanaka Maoli, Imua Hawaiian People, Imua A’Kua

    Boots on da Ground!!!

  6. objectivity July 22, 2019 6:54 am Reply

    Forgive me if I am wrong and your racist rant is justified and my observation is incorrect, but isn’t OYAMA a JAPANESE name, Harry???

    1. DebraKekaualua March 11, 2020 9:08 am Reply

      You missed the boat, objectivity! Do you know what is the Ku’e petition? Have you done any due diligence research? Obviously not! You sound like every other ignorant transplant that gluts our roads, takes our homes and employment, and stealing everything not otherwise nailed down by military insanity, judiciaropolitical corruption-destruction of these lands and the people who are being lied to, maneuvers and manipulations. You used the racist card. Oyama as Kawakami are all connected by generations of others, that guarantees you are not one or that will ever be comfortable around those of us that do know, truth and integrity. You will remain haole unless you wake up and start paying attention.

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