Virtual discussion

Blue Beacon Series: Ola Kanaloa! (Life to Kanaloa!)


15 Dec, 2021


Virtual through Facebook Live
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Ola Kanaloa! (Life to Kanaloa!)

Like that of many indigenous peoples, the Hawaiian worldview is one that acknowledges and seeks to understand the interconnectedness of everything in the natural world. This worldview shaped the mindsets, values, and actions of our kūpuna (ancestors) who were proven stewards of land and sea for hundreds of years. Although the Hawaiʻi of today is a far contrast to the balanced and thriving Hawaiʻi of our ancestors, this worldview is very much alive and is key to restoring ola (life and health) to our systems and all peoples.

Likewise, the protection of important habitats and healthy marine ecosystems is critical for the survival of other relatives and beings. Koholā (humpback whales) are Kanaloa who are significant in form, function and migration. It is estimated that more than 50 percent of the entire North Pacific humpback whale population migrates to the warm and shallow waters of the Hawaiian Islands each winter to mate, calve, and nurse their young.

Join us on December 15th for a live virtual roundtable focusing on Kanaloanuiākea, the great expanse of Kanaloa. Native Hawaiian members of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council discuss the cultural and ecological significance of Kanaloanuiākea, and the need for greater understanding and genuine application of cultural knowledge and values in advocacy, protection, and conservation efforts from mauka to makai – in the uplands and throughout the sea.

Join us as we reimagine collective education, advocacy, and protection of our ocean systems through the lens of Kanaloanuiākea.

Join us on December 15 at 5 PM EST on Facebook Live  (alternate stream will be embedded on this page.)

About our participants

Solomon Pili Kahoʻohalahala, Kupa ʻāina o Lānaʻi, Maunalei Ahupuaʻa Mauka-Makai Managed Area

Solomon was born on the island of Lānaʻi and descended from a long line of Hawaiian navigators, keepers of the land, waters, and the sea. Inspired by the mission of traditional seafaring and wayfinding, he became a crewmember on Hawaiian double hulled voyaging canoe, Hōkūleʻa, while organizing the people of Lānaʻi to support, protect and stop the bombing of Kahoʻolawe island, a significant site in celestial navigation and ceremonial voyaging departures. He is a founding member that established the Kānepuʻu Native Hawaiian Endemic Dryland Forest Preserve and the Mānele-Hulapōeō Marine Life Conservation District on the island of Lānaʻi. He was elected to serve several terms as the Lānaʻi island representative to the Maui County Council, the Hawai‘i State Legislature and appointed Executive Director of the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission. He established the Maunalei Ahupuaʻa Mauka-Makai Managed Area and is a co-founding member of the Maui Nui Makai Network, supporting traditional Hawaiian mauka-makai resources management communities on Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi and Maui islands. He advocated and met with US Congressional members and Executives of the Obama Administration, culminating in the Presidential Proclamation and expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, creating the world’s largest marine protected area, and currently serving as its native Hawaiian elder on the reserve advisory council. He is also the current native Hawaiian member on the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument community group. Lastly, he serves as current Chairperson of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council in the Main Hawaiian Islands. I ka wā mamua i ka wā mahope.

Malia Akutagawa, JD, ESQ., Associate Professor of Law and Hawaiian Studies, Hawai’inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge and William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

Malia Akutagawa was born and raised on Molokaʻi. At a young age she was influenced by her mākua and kūpuna, leaders in the early aloha ʻāina movement. She is a Native Hawaiian Rights and Environmental Law attorney with experience in Hawaiian access, gathering, burial, land use, and water rights issues. She is an Associate Professor at the Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge – Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies and the William S. Richardson School of Law – Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law. Malia is part of Hui ‘Āina Momona, a consortium of scholars throughout the university community charged with addressing compelling issues of Indigenous Hawaiian knowledge and practices.

Malia is poʻo (lead) of the ʻAha Kiole o Molokaʻi, a local and Indigenous governance system that works with government agencies and lawmakers at the county, state, and federal levels for the protection and care of the natural environment, cultural sites, and resources. Malia belongs to an island-wide network of Kiaʻi Kanaloa, Native Hawaiian cultural and religious practitioners who interface with government agencies; assist in response work associated with distressed, stranded, and injured marine species; and care for their remains as ancestral beings and kinolau (physical embodiments) of Kanaloa (the Hawaiian ocean god). Malia extends this kuleana to Kanaloa through serving as the Molokaʻi representative on the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council.

Malia has dedicated much of her efforts to conflict resolution, utilizing principles of hoʻoponopono, and creating greater parity for Kānaka Maoli seeking to protect ʻāina and Native rights. To this end, she works with and trains government agencies, legislators, environmental court judges, and conservation enforcement officers.

Roxane Keli’ikipikāneokolohaka, Ed.D., Kia’i Kanaloa, Kai Palaoa, Kia’i Loko

Roxane Keliʻikipikāneokolohaka was born and raised in Waiākea, Hilo, Hawaiʻi and has been an educator in various contexts for over twenty years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science, a Master’s degree in Marine Resource Monitoring & Education, and a Doctorate in Professional Education Practice. She has served as a Kiaʻi Loko for Haleolono in Honohononui for over fifteen years, functioning as a kiaʻi and educational specialist. She is a member of Kai Palaoa, an organization dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of our oceans and ocean life. As one of the founders of Kiaʻi Kanaloa, she works with a state-wide network of kiaʻi who respond to and care for distressed and stranded Kanaloa (cetaceans). Roxane currently works for Kamehameha Schools as a Senior Project Manager for the ʻŌiwi Leadership Institute. She also serves as the native Hawaiian representative on the Sanctuary Advisory Council of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. As a practitioner-educator-scholar, Roxane’s approach to her work in all spaces is rooted in her belief that Hawaiian culture is not the aesthetic picture framed by outside perspectives; instead, Hawaiian culture is where Hawaiian knowledge, experience, and dedication to practice helps us to live in better balance with our elder environment and to develop the adaptive lens of our ancestors.

Kalani Quiocho, Cultural Resources Coordinator, Pacific Islands Region, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (moderator)

Kalani was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaiʻi. For over five years, he previously served as the Native Hawaiian Program Specialist for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) and World Heritage Site. His work focused on including Hawaiian perspectives and traditions within management such as co-developing the Mai Ka Pō Mai Native Hawaiian Guidance Document for the Management of Papahānaumokuākea, which took over ten years to complete in coordination with PMNM co-managing agencies and the Native Hawaiian community. Kalani has served as a cultural advisor and liaison for PMNM and has supported relations with local, national, and international partners, including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Kalani has an academic background in Hawaiian studies, Hawaiian language, marine science, and he is currently pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management. His research focuses on understanding how to improve co-management of protected areas with Indigenous peoples through the incorporation of Indigenous values in natural resources and environmental management policy, including implementation and evaluation. He currently serves as the Cultural Resources Coordinator for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries overseeing research, education, policy, and Indigenous and local community engagement for cultural heritage management within the Pacific Islands region for the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

About the Blue Beacon Series

The National Marine Sanctuary’s Blue Beacon Series aims to bring to light the ocean and Great Lakes’ biggest challenges through panels, lectures, and film screenings hosted around the country in order to build communities of support for marine protected areas. This series builds on the momentum of Capitol Hill Ocean Week, the nation’s premier conference on ocean and Great Lakes policy issues by bringing these important conversations into locally relevant contexts. For more information, visit


Please contact Shannon Colbert,