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For many Hawaiians, the eruption is a time to connect with Pele and honor ancestors

Hawaii Volcano Photo Gallery maunaloa offering pele native hawaiian
Gregory Bull/AP
An offering sits among blackened lava rock from a previous eruption near the Maunaloa volcano as it erupts Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, near Hilo, Hawaiʻi. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Two cultural groups, Mauna Kea ʻOhana and The Royal Order of Kamehameha I, are cleaning up the area around the Mauna Kea Access Road and Pu’uhuluhulu in preparation for the arrival of the Hawaiian deity Pele — as some consider Pele a family member.

Lanihuli Kanahele of Kanaka'ole Foundation
Lanihuli Kanahele
Lanihuli Kanahele of the Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation

Cultural practitioner and native rights activist Noe Noe Wong-Wilson said it’s important for Native Hawaiians to make sure their “house” is clean when a revered ancestor visits.

Lanihuli Kanahele is the great-granddaughter of the late cultural practitioner Edith Kanaka’ole and works for the foundation named after her. Kanahele spoke with The Conversation about the significance of the Maunaloa eruption to many Hawaiians, and the importance of Pele to Hawaiian women.

As many people travel to see the amazing site, Kanahele hopes that understanding the cultural context of this event will lead to an appreciation of Maunaloa as a sacred space of wonder and meaning.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Dec. 9, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Stephanie Han is a producer for The Conversation. Contact her at
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