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Native Hawaiian group to talk environmental stewardship with gubernatorial candidates

Ho‘okua‘āina taro fields in Kailua.
Ho‘okua‘āina taro fields in Kailua.

What will Hawaiʻi's gubernatorial candidates do to protect the islands’ natural and cultural resources? How will they strike the right balance between tourism and the natural environment?

These are some of the questions a group of Native Hawaiian stewards of Hawaiʻi's natural resources will pose at an upcoming series of virtual talk story sessions.

Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo, or KUA, has championed community-based solutions to natural resource management in Hawaiʻi for nearly two decades.

Kevin Chang, the executive director for KUA, says they’re hosting these sessions because candidates have not said much on environmental stewardship issues.

"We still have communities on our islands who still fish as a subsistence practice. It actually supplements their income or their ability to feed their family. But I mean, what does it say if we live off these islands in a manner that extracts everything that it once gave to us?" Chang told HPR.

"It’s sort of this elephant in the room, the environment, and we’re not talking about it. Jobs and culture and education and well-being are all connected to our environment. There’s this idea that maybe one day we can actually have jobs in our economy that are about taking care of Hawaiʻi. So I hope they are going to start talking more about that," he said.

KUA plans to host virtual talk story sessions with some of the gubernatorial candidates, beginning Tuesday, Aug. 2.

The hour-long sessions will be recorded and posted to KUA’s Facebook page.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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