UH-Hilo seeks funds for cultural programming

  • Kalei Rapoza

The University of Hawaii at Hilo is seeking from the Legislature this year funds for eight full-time equivalent positions and operating funds to support educational and cultural programming at Halepohaku, the Maunakea Visitor Information Station and ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center.

Kalei Rapoza, interim vice chancellor for administrative affairs, said in an email that the initiative was submitted as part of Gov. David Ige’s funding request for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

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“This request is aligned to the governor’s 10-point plan on stewardship on Maunakea, and would provide required training in cultural aspects of Maunakea for employees and contractors who will be working on the mountain, and education on how to be respectful to cultural areas for anyone going on the mountain,” Rapoza said.

Ige in 2015 asked that the University of Hawaii take 10 actions to enhance stewardship on the mountain, including require training in the cultural aspects of Maunakea and how to respect the culturally significant areas there.

Rapoza said UH-Hilo wants to expand educational activities already occurring at ‘Imiloa up to Maunakea “to enhance appreciation of Maunakea to the local community, employees, contractors, recreational users, scientists and visitors.”

“I think overall there’s concerns that when people go up to Maunakea, they just aren’t aware of the cultural importance of the mountain and the different places and sites on the mountain that are culturally important,” he said in a follow-up interview.

The VIS has staff members, who are not employed by UH-Hilo, “but we want to see an expansion of the cultural education that happens up there,” Rapoza said.

According to Rapoza, two of the eight positions will develop curriculum to be taught on Maunakea, while the remaining six position will be to staff the educational programming.

The total funding request is for about $1.2 million, he said, including about $611,000 for the eight positions, with the remaining funds for educational supplies and to develop the necessary educational materials.

Rapoza said the request also will address a component of the recently updated administrative rules governing how UH manages more than 11,000 acres of land it leases on Maunakea.

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Within the rules is a requirement that people accessing UH management areas “complete an orientation regarding cultural and natural resources, safety matters and other relevant information prior to entering … .”

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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