Aloha, I’m Lindsey Gomez, the new Marketing Assistant here at Pacific Whale Foundation. I was born and raised on the island of Maui, and I am hapa haole, half white. My mother is from New York, and my father is from Bogotá, Colombia. Although I am in no way kānaka maoli, native Hawaiian, Maui is my birthplace and my home, and I have grown up with the utmost respect for this incredibly special ‘āina.

It is due to this respect that I understand my kuleana, my responsibility and my right, to protect my home. I see the ecological issues that our oceans face today not just as an abstract idea, but as a tangible threat to the way of life amongst all creatures that inhabit our islands and waters. That’s why getting to work for Pacific Whale Foundation has been nothing short of a dream come true.

With a mission to protect the ocean through science and advocacy and to inspire environmental stewardship, the Pacific Whale Foundation puts kuleana into practice. As a foundation, we recognize the responsibility we have to the waters and sea creatures of Hawaii. Of course, there is always room for growth and improvement. We can learn from the teachings of those who came before us, and the living Hawaiian culture that we are a part of here in Hawai‘i. The native people of this land recognized the vital importance of maintaining the health of the waters and the lands, as well as the importance of sharing their mana‘o for the generations to come. There is a continued need to learn from this vast wealth of indigenous knowledge and to expand our role in our host community.

To those who are born on the island of Maui, those who move here, and those who visit briefly, know that we are all keiki o ka ‘āina, children of the land. We all share our responsibility in recognizing the global issues that affect these beautiful islands and seas, and we all have the opportunity to learn from and integrate an understanding of insight from the Hawaiian cultural knowledge that lives on today.

This post is the first of a series that we will be calling “Voices of Maui Nui,” which will highlight different perspectives on marine and ecological conservation from community leaders around the islands. Stay tuned for my next post, where I share my interview with Edwin “Ekolu” Lindsey III, the president of Maui Cultural Lands and all-around eco-superhero. See you next week!