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World Whale Film Festival Spotlight: The Hoaʻāina Of Hāʻena

The 3rd annual World Whale Film Festival will be held at Historic Iao Theater February 08 from 6-9pm. One of the eight films meant to inspire health through waves of change is The Hoaʻāina Of Hāʻena, presented by Kipahulu Ohana, who are focused on shoreline and nearshore stewardship resource management. The Hoaʻāina Of Hāʻena tells the inspiring story of a rural Hawaiian community’s journey to perpetuate traditional and customary practices of their kūpuna and their multi-generational effort to mālama the natural and cultural resources that have sustained their families for generations. The film was made by Kua’āina Ulu ‘Auamo (KUA), an organization dedicated to community-based natural resources management in Hawai’i, working together with government agencies and communities towards restoring Hawaiʻi communities’ traditional role as caretakers of their lands and waters. Executive Director of KUA, Kevin Chang, shared his thoughts on the film and the power of Hawai‘i communities.

What inspired you to create your film?

Everyone who participated in the making of the film was involved in the experience of seeing and supporting the Hāʻena community-based subsistence fishing rule’s effort. It simply felt like the story had to be told. There are more stories like these developing across our state that need to be told. The film’s development was a collective endeavor to tell a story about community-based natural resource management and the power of Hawai’i’s communities to influence, manage and govern their destinies together. Different communities and generations all had a role in its development. The story of Hāʻena’s community-based subsistence fishing area and rules is a story connected to many rural and native Hawaiian communities efforts across our state in places like Moʻomomi, Kīpahulu and Miloliʻi.

Why do you think it’s important to share your film at the Pacific Whale Foundation World Whale Film Festival specifically?

Current issues in the news, like the Sperm Whale carcass off Oʻahu’s shoreline, have already charged discussions around cultural and inter-species respect and how connected the nearshore environment is to the lives and ecosystems of whales. The issue of whales and other charismatic species ultimately revolves around existential questions concerning our relationship with them, with each other and our greater environment.The story and vision of community environmental stewardship groups and networks across Hawaiʻi like E Alu Pū, Hui Mālama Loko Iʻa, Limu Hui, Kai Kuleana and the Maui Nui Makai Network are examples of how communities can be the answer to their own questions on governance and re-invigorating values and traditions that concern more mindful and balanced relationships with our world in contemporary social-ecological ways. It is important to understand that grassroots efforts like these now occur in indigenous and local communities across the globe and Hawaiʻi communities are connected to these efforts.

Have you had any previous experiences with PWF?

Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo or I have not had any previous experience with PWF. However, we are proud to see that community leaders from some of the community groups we work with on Maui – i.e. Kīpahulu ʻOhana and members of the Maui Nui Makai Network- will be in attendance and presenting.

Why do you think people should come to the film festival?

Forums that create focus on issues that have broader consequence -like our relationship with and the plight of whales- are important toward telling and addressing the bigger stories about our relationship with each other and planet. As someone who is pretty ignorant of ocean issues beyond our nearshore, I imagine an event like this would broaden the conscience.

Who would enjoy this film festival?

I believe our film specifically will inspire and appeal to anyone who is jaded by the conventional political partisanship and malaise. The Hoaʻāina of Hāʻena is about people taking a responsibility for their environment together. It is a metaphor that extends the idea of conservation beyond the typical or traditional western discussion. In general, I believe anyone interested in ocean issues would enjoy it.