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Traditional & Customary Practices Report for Manaʻe (East) Molokaʻi, Hawaiʻi
Over the years, the people of Manaʻe (East Molokaʻi) have witnessed a notable decline in the health of their watershed. A significant part of this declining health is the degradation of the mauka (mountain) native forests, which has subsequently had a drastic effect on all of the ahupuaʻa (traditional land divisions) of Manaʻe, from mauka (mountain) to makai (sea). Ensuring the well-being of these mauka areas is essential to the preservation and perpetuation of Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices carried out in the moku (district), given the symbiotic relationship between the people and their ʻāina. Thus, Manaʻe residents are passionate about protecting their moku and the resources that sustain them. It is their protectiveness of their island that often puts them at odds with each other in deciding how best to care for her – which is at the core of this report. In 2013, the possibility of protecting Manaʻe’s mauka rainforests with a fence was proposed to the community through the draft East Slope Watershed Start-Up Management Plan (“East Slope Management Plan”), which was prepared by the East Molokaʻi Watershed Partnership (EMoWP). That plan was based on the recognition that the degradation of these mauka areas was largely attributable to an influx of habitat altering invasive plant and animal species that have significantly impacted native forests, the life that inhabits them, and the freshwater they foster. The proposed fence has elicited strong reactions from the Manaʻe community – both for and against such a fence. It also caused some community members to call for additional planning that looks at the entire moku and all of its ahupuaʻa, from mauka to makai. In response to these strong reactions, the planning process to create this report was undertaken. The purpose of this report is to accomplish the following objectives: (1) Recognize that the people of Manaʻe (East Molokaʻi) regularly exercise Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices, and document those practices. (2) Provide an explanation of Native Hawaiian legal protections pertinent to Manaʻe kamaʻāina’s traditional and customary practices. (3) Develop a framework for a community-based Subsistence and Ahupuaʻa Management Plan for the Manaʻe Moku, Mauka to Makai. (4) Summarize community recommendations for the East Molokaʻi Watershed Partnership’s East Slope Management Plan (January 2014 draft). The primary steps taken to reach these goals included: • Documentation of residents’ traditional and cultural practices in the moku of Manaʻe; • Gathering mana‘o (input) from key informants (kamaʻāina and other experts) regarding how best to protect these resources and practices; • Analysis of legal protections specific to Manaʻe families exercising Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices within their moku and ahupuaʻa; • Reconciling varied perspectives and information where possible and finding common areas of agreement in manaʻo shared by Manaʻe families in terms of traditional and modern ʻāina (land) stewardship and ahupuaʻa resource management; • Identifying the recommendations that best incorporate and honor the collective manaʻo, and weaving them into a framework for a community-based Subsistence and Ahupuaʻa Management Plan for Manaʻe, Mauka to Makai. • Summarizing community recommendations for the East Slope Management Plan.
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