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Molokai to Feature on Travel Show

After filming on the Friendly Isle in February, Anthony Bourdain’s award-winning CNN travel show “Parts Unknown” is set to air an episode this Sunday, June 14, featuring Molokai, Maui and Oahu. In his program, the globetrotting chef and author uncovers “the little-known, off-the-road, and seemingly-familiar areas of the world,” according to a CNN blog post.

“We using this opportunity for promote how we aloha aina,” said Keawanui Fishpond operator Hanohano Naehu, who spoke with Bourdain during his visit. “… Every generation fought to keep this place like this, so we inherited not only a place that was unchanged, but we inherited that responsibility for keep fighting for this.”

Residents said Bourdain wanted to portray an authentic story of Molokai. Before the film crew headed out on Feb. 4, Kanoe Davis did an oli seeking protection while out on the ocean, which she said is appropriate protocol “regardless of filming or not.”

Molokai fisherman Walter Naki then took Bourdain diving and taught him how to catch and kill octopus with one swift bite. Naki said Bourdain was successful but got a face-full of tentacles for his efforts.

“[Bourdain] was game. He did it,” said Naki, adding with a laugh that “the octopus got him back, too. The legs wrapped around his face.”

At a luau later at Keawanui Fishpond, residents showed Bourdain how they use the island’s resources. On a menu that included teriyaki venison, fish, limu, crab, lobster, he`e and pork, Naehu said “nothing was bought.” Over food and beer, Bourdain expressed his admiration for the island’s back-to-the-basics lifestyle.

“He was totally amazed that we were able to keep our culture alive with all of the outside influences,” said local activist Walter Ritte. “His statement to me was, ‘I’ve traveled all over the world, and I’ve never seen a place like Molokai be able to keep their traditional values and culture in the busy world that we have today.’”

Ritte and Naehu said they shared their thoughts on some of the island’s pressing environmental concerns, including the debate over genetically engineered crops and a December incident in which four Molokai fishermen were charged after confronting an Oahu diver harvesting in Molokai waters.

However, Naehu said they’ve been called hypocrites by community members who fear that bringing attention to Molokai will open it up to people looking to capitalize on the island’s resources. Ritte said they made it clear to Bourdain that they didn’t want “busloads of tourists” and just wanted to share a message of protecting Molokai resources.

“We’re surrounded by mistakes that tourism has made, where communities make a lot of money but they lose all of their resources,” said Ritte. “… Molokai is becoming more and more valuable as every place gets overrun. We need to be really smart about how we’re gonna advance our economy.”

Any TV show that wants to film on Molokai, said Naehu, has to “line up with aloha aina.” Naehu said when MTV wanted to film a competition where contestants started on the island’s north shore and raced to a prize waiting at Keawanui, they turned them down.

“We not going out there and looking for these shows,” said Naehu. “We just trying for defend and protect this place as best as can. … This is what our kupuna before us have done. For [people] to look at us as troublemakers, I think … that perception is skewed.”

Residents involved with the filming added that the crew worked to portray a clear and respectful picture of the island.

“I got to be on crew for [the]… Molokai segment,” said Molokai filmmaker Matt Yamashita. “These guys were really open to and respectful of Hawaiian culture and protocol and made a great effort to capture the spirit and essence of Molokai. … They put a lot of effort into working with us, before they came, as well as afterward, to make sure they were as culturally accurate as possible.”

The June 14 episode will air at 9 p.m. EST/PT.

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