While growing up in Hilo, I took hula lessons and then put those ‘ami and ‘uwehe to good use for Hawaiian student club lu‘au at the University of Washington.
Later, I joined a Seattle halau Pulamaliaikalikolehua, led by the late kumu hula Moodette Ka‘apana where I brushed up on my rusty moves and in 2005, attended Ka ‘Aha Hula ‘O Halauaola, the world hula conference on Maui.
I’d been to the Valley Isle only once so when the opportunity arose to go with halau, I jumped at it. Five days of fabulous workshops around hula and Hawaiian culture with sessions led by kumu Hokulani Holt-Padilla, Pualani Kanaka‘ole-Kanahele, Keali‘i Reichel among others — who could pass it up? Especially when included were field trips to landmarks such as Pihana Heiau and Iao Valley with historic connections to Hawaii Island.
In his conquest of Maui around 1795, Kamehameha crossed the ‘Alenuihaha Channel and upon landing, ordered his warriors to burn all 960 war canoes. It was do-or-die, and we know the outcome, so on Maui, Kamehameha is neither celebrated nor referred to in glowing terms. It was eye-opening perspective for this Hawaii islander.
One place on Maui I thought I should go to before my legs and lungs give out was Haleakala. Sometimes on a clear day in Hamakua, we can see Haleakala off in the distance, so I knew it was time to get myself up there.
Every one knows about House of the Sun. Even in Hilo, we grew up with the story of how the demigod Maui lassoed the sun to slow it down so his mother could finish her work.
Watching the sunrise at Haleakala was on my must-do list and if not at the hula conference, then when? So I hauled my sleepy okole out of bed before 4 a.m. in order to meet the van that would take us to the summit.
I was grateful for the dark and silent ride up the winding road which invited meditation in preparation for a spiritual event, but truth be told, I mostly dozed off.
We finally arrived at the lookout and what to my wondering eyes did appear, but ukumillion other sunrise seekers. My halau scrambled to get the best view facing east over the crater, scampering like mountain goats over rocky outposts for the chicken skin moment.
But as more arrived to watch Maui’s sun rise, the din got louder. You’d think it would become quieter as the sacred seconds approached but instead, the noise level rose because there are always people who must talk, describing with inadequate words their memorable moment, instead of letting the splendor simply wash over them in silence.
Include those who can’t stop yammering about anything and everything like what they’ll be eating for breakfast, and you get the picture. I shudder to think what happens these days with ongoing narration on pervasive cellphones. “Oh, here comes the first ray … .”
I share with you this experience because the Maunakea Master Plan is seeking input until Oct. 26. There are larger issues regarding the mauna but my small voice is speaking to visitors who want to go up to watch the sunset. Remembering the trip to Haleakala, I vote a loud and resounding no.
I’m all for cultural practitioners ascending these magnificent mountains. But tourists — why? No need to ruin another mystical and magical mauna with hordes of jostling and yakking humans looking for something to post on their Instagram and Facebook page.
Perspective. This is mine.
Rochelle delaCruz was born in Hilo, graduated from Hilo High School, then left to go to college. After teaching for 30 years in Seattle, Wash., she retired and returned home to Hawaii. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears every other Monday.