mom and two kids in front of mauna kea

Kū Kiaʻi Mauna: The Guardians of Mauna Kea

Have you ever stood up for something you believed in? In my thirty-something years I haven't. I have never felt the calling. I never felt so passionate about an issue. Don't get me wrong, I've supported various issues. I've donated and raised money...but the last week I really felt this calling from deep in my naʻau.

mom and two kids looking at mauna kea by a Hawaiian flag

I didn't grow up immersed in Hawaiian culture. I didn't grow up speaking ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi. I come from a diverse make-up of ethnicities (9 on my birth certificate, more by oral history) - I used to joke when I was younger that we were so mixed somewhere along the line we lost our connection to our heritage. And maybe even though I was young and joking...deep inside I knew that was what had happened. I don't blame anyone for this, how do you know you are losing something until it is lost? 

I attended Kamehameha Schools and we learned about our Hawaiian culture but I didn't appreciate it enough back then. We were encouraged to learn world languages like Japanese or Spanish. I went to college on the mainland just like everyone told me to. It wasn't until I was away that I wanted to learn about my Hawaiian culture. I took classes online through the UH system during the summers. I took Hawaiian 101-202. I wanted to continue but I had already graduated by the time I finished 202 and needed to work a full-time job (the price we pay to live in Hawaiʻi).

Fast-forward....After my keiki were born I found myself wanting to reconnect with my Hawaiian culture but not really knowing how.

How do you learn the language as an adult learner?

How do you immerse yourself in the culture when you don’t know how? Don't know anyone actively involved?

I am sure I am not the only one struggling with this. I love meeting and talking to people and I'm uncomfortable in large crowds...Despite my hesitations to work expos and markets, it has given me the chance and opportunity to meet others in our community. I have been able to slowly find my way, learning a little more every day.


Mauna Kea

I've always been connected to Hawai'i island. My dad's family is from Hilo and we always flew to visit every year. 

This past week as I watched live on FB and IG I felt a calling deep in my Naʻau to do whatever I could do.

Even though I felt that building the TMT on Mauna Kea was wrong, I took the time to educate myself and research both sides of the issue. For me personally, I have no problems with the TMT being built. I just do not support it being built on Mauna Kea.

I donated items for an auction to raise funds for Mauna Kea.

I talked to others who have been actively involved with fighting TMT.

I posted and re-posted events you could participate in to support the Kia'i of Mauna Kea and ways you could help financially.

And lastly...after reading some terrible terrible things being said about the officers involved with the arrests of the kupuna, I knew I had to step up and say something.  Those keyboard warriors, although passionate and probably running high on emotion, were just brutal. 

So I did it...the biggest thing for me...the scariest thing to do as a business owner...For the FIRST time I publicly stated my stance on an issue on social media - something I have NEVER done because I run a business and I respect the opinions and views of ALL my customers. ⁣⁣

But I also realized this is my share aloha and my culture.

It is my business to support my community and stand up for what is right.

Visiting the Mauna

The timing was right and we happened to find ourselves flying into Kona to visit my Grandpa in Hilo. I had been talking to my husband about how I felt about this issue and told him that I wanted to take our keiki up to the Mauna and show them how our lāhui had gathered from across the islands, mainland, and world to take a stance. This is one of the first times I can really remember when I have seen so many Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians unite across the islands, nation, and world.⁣⁣ Tensions were building and yes, I was nervous to take my keiki up there - what if that was the day that mass arrests would be made? Would we be safe in the Puʻuhonua as promised? 

Image taken on July 19, 2:47pm

But as we drove up Saddle Road from Kona you could feel the warmth in the air (and not just because it was 85 degrees). When we got closer we saw all of the cars lined up along the side of the road. We found parking and made a game plan and we walked to the Puʻuhonua. We made our intentions of why we were there and entered the Puʻuhonua. I immediately felt the aloha that was there, how safe it felt there. I wasn't worried for the safety of my keiki or ourselves. 


To be in the presence of the Kupuna and Kiaʻi who have been here since Monday making a stand to protect Mauna Kea was a feeling that was indescribable.⁣⁣ So much mana. So much aloha.
⁣⁣We are kanaka ʻōiwi. We can and will stand up for what we believe in. We will fight for what is Pono. I am inspired to live my life in Kapu Aloha and remind my keiki daily to practice this. I want them to see that action speaks louder than words and that they can be somebody...that they can be part of something bigger.⁣⁣
I know this is long. Longer than my original post on Instagram. If you are still reading Mahalo for taking the time to read. Mahalo for sticking with us. Mahalo for allowing me to share my mana’o.⁣⁣
What will you tell your keiki or moʻopuna you did when they learn about this? ⁣⁣


Please take the time to read or watch some of these videos. I hope they speak to you like they spoke to me.



Active List of Mauna Kea Protection Support Events

Sign the Petition

Kahea Alliance - Aloha ʻĀina Support Fund

Hawaii Community Bail Fund




Kākoʻo o Haleakala



Mauna Kea Education and Awareness


Protect Mauna Kea

Imua TMT

The Sacred and Scientific Clash on Hawaii's Mauna Kea - PBS News Hour

Story of Hale Ku Kiaʻi Mauna | Aloha Aina - Vidu Love

Hawaii Rising | Mauna Wisdom - Vidu Love



Hawaii News Now - Conflict on Mauna Kea

Honolulu Civil Beat - Mauna Kea



Hawaii Rising (6/24/15) - Vidu Love

See You on the Mauna (7/15/19) - Prime Footage

Rise Up - Prime Footage



Hawaiian Movement - Ku Haʻaheo by Kumu Hina

For the Lahui - Josh Tatofi

Mele ma ka Mauna: Warrior Rising - Hawane Rios

Hawaii ʻ78 - Mana Maoli

Brains - Ka'ikena Scanlan


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1 comment

Enjoyed reading your article “Kū Kia’i Mauna: The Guardians of Mauna Kea” and appreciate all the resources you included. I’ve been searching for a site to purchase items made in Hawaii for my nephew in Central CA. There’s no need to post this.
Mahalo for sharing!

Naomi Nagahama

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