As the fight for Mauna Kea continues, visitors to the mauna [mountain] say they have gone to show their support and in return have been overwhelmed by peaceful and loving displays of culture.
Christian Kunz, associate professor of social work, said visiting Mauna Kea was a life-changing experience he shared about on a Facebook post which has since been shared more than 400 times. “I was overwhelmed with the amount of aloha that I felt on Mauna Kea - me, the ‘haole’ [non-Hawaiian] with ‘legal observer’ written across my chest. There was curiosity. Several people asked me what my role was on [Mauna Kea], but there was always aloha.”
He explained there was around 1,000 to 2,000 people there. Supporters donated food and supplies for people at the mauna. Additionally, he said there were daily lectures, cultural performances, chanting and music around the clock.
Notable visits to Mauna Kea from celebrities included Dwayne “The Rock'' Johnson, Jason Momoa, and Jack Johnson, according to Hawaii News Now. Other celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruno Mars and Bernie Sanders gave their support on social media.
Hinarautea Doom, a junior majoring in communications from Tahiti, said her time on the mauna was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. “Throughout my life, I’ve never been involved in any protests, but I wanted to show my support to my friends, my Polynesian brothers and sisters and especially to this beautiful island that is Hawaii.”
Despite only living in Hawaii for two years, Doom said, “[I am] attached to the island’s treasures, Mauna Kea being one of them, which is why we need to protect its authenticity against scientific imperialism.”
Doom said she spent three days on the Big Island, including two days at Mauna Kea. “We woke up early to drive to the mauna. I observed everything around me; the dances, the prayers, the kupuna [elderly], the people and the land and how beautiful the Hawaiian culture is. It made me really proud to be Polynesian.”
Doom explained how she felt being at the mauna, “I was touched by people’s actions. They help and they serve without asking for something in return. One word I remember from my time there is ‘Kapu Aloha,’ which I understood meant sacred love.
“The power of Kapu Aloha and my time up there made me feel so calm and peaceful. I had a really good time on the mauna and I know that it is a special place, a Pu’uhonua, that you don’t really understand until you see it for yourself.”
Heather Kealani Haney, a junior from the Big Island double majoring in Hawaiian studies and biology, said she has spent several days at Mauna Kea to show her support. “Everyone at Mauna Kea is all about Kapu Aloha [peaceful protest]. I have seen the respect that the protectors have given to law enforcement; feeding them and making sure they are taken care of as well as the keiki [youth], kupuna [elderly] and everyone else at Pu’u Huluhulu. There is so much aloha present there.”
She said the supporters are well organized at the mauna. There are 12 portable toilets which are cleaned out twice a day and there are daily meetings regarding protocols and updates from law enforcement and the state government.