LIHUE — There’s a meeting of the minds happening on Kauai, with invested residents starting to gather and talk story, answering the question: “What is Kauai’s Mauna Kea?”.
The group has met twice, is growing in numbers and was integral in planning Sunday’s Hanalei Bay paddle-out in support of those opposing the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.
Called Kauai Lahui, the group is loosely organized and community-based. Activities and meetings are coordinated through a private Facebook page, and it’s connecting a range of Native Hawaiians and supporters of many local causes.
“We’re discussing areas of concern for Kauai, some Mauna related things too, but the things going on with Kauai now,” said one of the organizers, Chanel Josiah.
She’s working with community members to put together the group — which resembles a think tank for resource and culture protection and advocacy.
Just before Sunday’s paddle out — a statewide event that brought thousands across Hawaii to the ocean — the group met to plan their piece of the event and to touch base on other issues like the pa’akai at Salt Ponds, the ongoing saga regarding the Loop Road Closure and diversions of Wai’ale’ale, and water quality at Pila’a Reef.
About 50 people filtered through the group’s second meeting, which started with a protocol outside consisting of mele and oli, or chanting. The first meeting, at the beginning of August, garnered about 30 people.
The genesis of Kaua’i Lahui, organizers say, was when Kauai Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami called a last-minute July meeting to talk with the community about their concerns related to Mauna Kea and to other issues on Kauai.
It was called a “listening meeting” in the County Civic Center Rotunda with a few other county officials in attendance as well, like Kauai Police Chief Todd Raybuck.
“After that meeting we started talking, myself and Fern (Holland). We need a hui on Kauai to talk about Kauai issues,“ Josiah said.
At the first meeting in early August they decided on some ground rules — like not live streaming meetings and focusing on being solution-based. Attendees can come and go at will and the goal is to have an open forum of communication geared toward action.
“Come, participate, be productive,” Holland said.
The meetings are open to anyone to learn, share and find a way to get involved in issues.
“Some people don’t know how to ask (about the issues),” Josiah said. “These are safe meetings, open to everyone to share. We’re trying to mobilize on Kauai.”
Kauai Lahui is working on registering people to vote.
The best way to connect with Kauai Lahui is through social media. Ask to join the Kauai Lahui Facebook group online and organizers will get you connected.