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Maui marchers make 'spiritual quest'


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POSTED: Sunday, February 22, 2009

LAHAINA, Maui » With chants and the blowing of conch shells, scores of native Hawaiians participated in ceremonies marking the closing of the religious Makahiki harvest festival and the start of a 193-mile walk around Maui.

The ceremony late Friday night, attended by more than 200 people, took place on the site of Mokuula Pond, where Kamehameha royalty lived in the early 1800s.

The walk around Maui renews the native tradition of visiting various land divisions and their people.

Ke'aumoku Kapu, an organizer, said the main reason for the walk known as "E Kaapuni A Hoa Kukui Na Moku Aina" is to reflect on the spiritual nature of the occasion and to see how the environment and the people are doing.

"That's why the walk was done in the past," he said.

"What we're trying to do is turn this into a spiritual quest."

Kapu said the walk was an opportunity for people to express their views about the conditions in Hawaii and that anyone was welcome to participate and to hold the torches leading the procession.

Some Hawaiians expressed their dismay at Gov. Linda Lingle's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of a ruling by the state Supreme Court that prohibits the state from selling or transferring so-called ceded or crown lands.

A copy of the court appeal was burned during the ceremonies.

By noon yesterday, several participants had walked more than 20 miles as far north as Kahakuloa.

The walk continues clockwise through Waihee, Kahului, Paia, rounding east Maui through Kahikinui and descending to the coastline along the King's trail to La Perouse, through Makena and Kihei and returning to Lahaina.

Organizers expect the walk to take about six days.

Kapu said a number of kupuna met and thought the ceremony would be helpful in perpetuating traditions to the younger generations.

He said during their visits to 12 land divisions, or moku, Hawaiians have followed traditional protocols — visiting native Hawaiians chanted a request to enter and Hawaiians living in the area chanted responses allowing entry.