Voices of Tradition Confront State Agency

Meeting provides face to face communication between locals and state.

By Brandon Roberts

When Molokai community members met last Wednesday with the Hawaii Coastal Zone Management Program (CZM) last Wednesday one agreement was made certain: change is needed.

Locals like Vanda Hanakahi believe in the ‘Aha Moku, a traditional system of resource management. Other attendees concur that local resource management should carry more weight than State or County agencies like the CZM.

The CZM coordinates state and county resource management. Douglas Tom, program manager for the Hawaii CZM, came to Molokai as an initial step in implementing the ‘Aha Moku by listening to local concerns.

While some community members asked for change, Tom argued that“if the CZM is to change then the law must change.” Tom recommended amending or rewriting planning laws.

“Resource management is really about managing human activities and that is the difficulty” said Tom after community members administered criticism toward the CZM.

The same attendants who argued for the ‘Aha Moku also discussed the benefits of Special Management Area (SMA). The SMA is a permit process that maintains grassroots control of development. The SMA refers applicants to the Molokai Planning Commission (MoPC) who then has the final say as to permit approval or denial for local developments.

“The SMA is double edged” said cultural advocate Kauwila Hanchett, “it offers another layer of protection, but creates more bureaucracy”.

“The community is the first line of defense”, said Malia Akutagawa, current island director for the Molokai Rural Development Project.

There were also calls from some to make all of Molokai a SMA zone with the hope of retaining local control over Molokai’s destiny which could be bolstered by the recent creation of the ‘Aha Moku advisory council.

The ‘Aha Moku, like hula, has its birthplace on Molokai and is now being implemented as an advisory role to the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) with the passing of the ‘Aha Moku bill (Act 212) this past legislative session.


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