Mauna Kea is many things to many people and has inspired such ancient sayings as, "Mauna Kea is the astonishing mountain that stands in the calm." It is likely, in fact, that the original settlers of these islands-skilled voyagers from the South Pacific-first made landfall over 1,500 years ago after sighting the great mountain rising above the distant horizon. In the ensuing centuries, Mauna Kea became a place rich with culturally significant sites that provide us with a window into the past.
We at the Office of Mauna Kea Management (OMKM) feel a great sense of responsibility to protect, preserve and enhance the historic sites and cultural resources found within the University of Hawaii's managed lands on Mauna Kea. Of particular concern is the Science Reserve. Not only does the Science Reserve contain over 200 historic sites,
|Upright shrine on Mauna Kea|
including shrines, cairns, ahu, lithic and flake scatters, but it also includes the summit region, which is steeped in myths and legends, and has played an important role in the ancient and modern history of Hawaiii.
Guiding OMKM with the management of these historic sites and cultural landscape is Kahu Ku Mauna and the Board of Land and Natural Resources approved Cultural Resource Management Plan (CRMP). Kahu Ku Mauna is a Native Hawaiian advisory council that advises OMKM and the Mauna Kea Management Board on cultural matters related to Mauna Kea. The CRMP provides OMKM a strategic approach and tools to protect and preserve the cultural resources.
It is fitting that the current spokesperson for Kahu Ku Mauna is Chad Kalepa Babayan, Associate Director & Navigator in Residence at the 'Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai'i, University of Hawai'i at Hilo. Kalepa, who has dedicated himself to the ancient art of navigation, says, "It is a rare privilege and opportunity to have access to Mauna Kea. We owe it to the mountain that we use it properly, protect its unique resources, and keep it clean and safe for everyone."
|Makanaka looking North to East|
Kahu Ku Mauna meets monthly to conduct its important work. OMKM Director Stephanie Nagata attends these meetings and presents the council members with information on events and activities potentially impacting the Science Reserve. "We discuss the issues and offer our opinions on everything from small to big," Kalepa explains. "We serve as advisors, but we know our voices are being heard. They are listening."
Future e-newsletters regarding cultural initiatives will feature the Mauna Kea Science Reserve Archaeological Inventory Survey, the Kepa Maly report, "Mauna Kea-The Famous Summit of the Land," and more insights from Kalepa on the role and responsibilities of Kahu Ku Mauna.