CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
First lady Laura Bush appeared at Washington Place yesterday to announce a Hawaiian name for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument.
Bush gets monument’s meaningful name rolling
First lady Laura Bush was the first person to publicly say the new Hawaiian name of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument created by her husband last June.
"Papahanaumokuakea," Bush pronounced carefully, evoking applause from several hundred people attending a naming ceremony at Washington Place yesterday.
The event included Hawaiian chants, hula and recognition of the cultural, ecological and spiritual significance of the remotest portion of the Hawaiian Archipelago. Many of those attending have been involved with decade-long efforts to provide protection for the area.
Wearing a sparkling turquoise-colored necklace and earrings, as well as white ginger and yellow ilima leis, Bush was as enthusiastic about pronouncing the long Hawaiian word as she had been about being within the monument at Midway Atoll on Thursday.
The 140,000-square-mile monument is home to endangered Hawaiian monk seals, threatened green sea turtles, 14 million seabirds and 7,000 species of marine animals -- a quarter of which are found nowhere else on Earth. The area is now the largest conservation area in the world.
The new name for the monument was suggested by old Hawaiian writings, explained Aunty Pua Kanahele, a respected Big Island kumu hula who was part of the Native Hawaiian Cultural Working Group that chose the name.
"The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is our kupuna, is our ancestor," Kanahele said. "In Hawaiian culture we regard them as ancestors and honor them in many different chants, as we do our grandparents and parents."
Halau Pua Ali'i 'Ilima performed hula and chants that spoke of the Northwestern Islands.
Despite the celebration of the new name and the prospect of more funding to manage the expansive resource, two environmental groups expressed concern yesterday about protecting the islands.
"Hopefully this spotlight will yield positive benefits in terms of progress on actually implementing protections," said Stephanie Fried, a senior scientist for Environmental Defense.
Just what does Papahanaumokuakea mean, you ask?
"The name ... comes from an ancient Hawaiian tradition concerning the genealogy and formation of the Hawaiian Islands. Papahanaumoku (who is personified in the Earth), and Wakea (who is personified in the expansive sky) were two of the most recognized ancestors of our people. Their union resulted in the creation or 'birthing' of the entire archipelago." -- Kekuewa Kikiloi, native Hawaiian Cultural Program coordinator for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
Two incidents last year set a stage for questions about where the monument is going, Fried noted. A longline fishing boat was accused of fishing illegally in protected monument waters, and government agencies are considering sanctions against a scientist accused of not following permit guidelines while conducting research there.
Both incidents remain under investigation, said Peter Young, director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, the agency that co-manages the monument along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Fried said she is eager for the monument to establish a citizens advisory panel and be more open about decisions about who is allowed to go into the monument and why.
Cha Smith, director of Kahea, the Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, said "there's been no assessment of the cumulative impacts from more than 380 (research or other) activities that took place in state waters, alone, last year."
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
First lady Laura Bush and Gov. Linda Lingle shook hands yesterday at Washington Place after Bush's announcement of a Hawaiian name for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument.
First lady also helps raise funds for GOP
The Hawaii Republican Party held a small fundraiser featuring first lady Laura Bush at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu yesterday, featuring a light breakfast of bagels and lox.
A Republican National Committee official, who asked not to be identified, said the event raised "over $100,000" for the local GOP.
A spokeswoman for Laura Bush said she could not talk about the event, and referred questions to the RNC.
Local GOP officials were equally mum about the fundraiser, saying they had been told by the White House to refer all questions to the RNC.
Neither the national nor local GOP would say who had been invited to attend the fundraiser.
Sam Aiona, GOP chairman, would only say that the local Republicans had to pay for a portion of Bush's travel to Hawaii because it was for political purposes.
Meanwhile, Democrats held a fundraiser two weeks ago to benefit the local Democratic Party. It raised $320,000, according to Mike McCartney, Democratic Party chairman. The event was hosted by Hawaii's four-person Democratic congressional delegation. Tickets were $1,000.