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Concerns Grows for Young Monk Seal on Kaua`i

After wildlife biologists and veterinarians relocated a 10-month-old Hawaiian monk seal on March 30th from the Lihi Canal in Kapa‘a, to a beach on the island’s west side they’d hoped she would stay away from the canal.  Two days ago the seal, identified as RH92, returned to the canal along with an adult seal (RK13). Together they’ve been seen feeding on small fish in the manmade waterway along with discarded fish parts. The return of RH92 to Lihi is prompting stepped-up public awareness and outreach and potentially enforcement of littering laws for fishermen who dispose of fish parts in the water.

Jamie Thomton, the Kaua‘i Marine Mammal Response Program Coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explained, “Any time you attract a wild animal into an area where human use is high, you’re increasing the risk of interaction between people and the seal.  You’re also exposing the seal to more risks, such as fishing nets that might be in the water, fishing hooks or strikes by boats.”  The endangered Hawaiian monk seal is protected by both federal and state laws, and injuring or killing a seal carries serious penalties.

The day after RH92 (now carrying a radio transmitter on her back so her movements can be tracked), returned to the canal she rested and basked in the sun on nearby Fuji beach.  As is standard practice with any of Kaua‘i’s population of an estimated 45 Hawaiian monk seals, volunteers posted signs asking people to give her wide berth. “We try to foster the co-existence with public education and outreach,” said Mimi Olry, the Kaua‘i Marine Mammal Response Field Coordinator with the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR).  She added, “We depend on people taking up a sense of doing what’s appropriate around these large marine mammals.  We’d like to see people respect them, give them their space, and not to create situations that put both seals and humans at risk.”

The disposal of litter, like fish parts, is not only illegal, they decompose in water that people fish and swim in. Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) are increasing their visibility and patrols at Lihi. For now they want to be sure captains, crews, and fishers on boats that launch from the canal’s ramp know that disposing of any fish parts in the water is against the law. If one-on-one education doesn’t work DOCARE officers may begin writing citations for littering.

Monk seals frequently explore inland fresh waterways like streams and rivers. The attraction of discarded fish parts in these areas is particularly hazardous for young monk seals. Over the past two and a half years, two yearling seals were found dead in the Lihi Canal. It’s believed they drowned, possibly after getting entangled in fish nets. Neither seal had any sign of disease or obvious trauma.

“The last thing we want is to lose RH92, because she’s come back to Lihi, for the easy food of discarded fish guts, heads, and tails,” Thomton said.  He added, “We’re focusing outreach, education and possible enforcement efforts on boat fishing, as this is where the parts are coming from.”  The law requires that all fish parts be thrown into garbage cans provided at all State of Hawai‘i small boat harbors.

Hawaiian monk seals feed mostly on small reef fish, tako (octopus), and lobsters. Despite beliefs to the contrary, they do not feed on fish like ono, ahi, and mahi mahi.  Extensive scientific studies have shown what species of prey the monk seals prefer, and there’s no evidence that they feed on the large, fast moving pelagic fish that deep sea fishermen prefer.

Moreover, according to DAR’s Mimi Olry, “Top predators like seals and sharks help keep reef fish populations healthy, because just like wolves on the land, they pick out the sick and injured fish to feed on. Marine mammals are part of our ecosystem and the Hawaiian monk seal is a sentinel species, in that the health of its population can provide advance warnings about environmental conditions for people. We can and should co-exist with them”

There are no plans to move RH92 a second time and it’s hoped with increased outreach and education people will stop throwing fish scraps into the water and she’ll move on to safer locales.

Hokulea and Hikianalia Arrive in Tahiti

Legendary Polynesian voyaging canoes Hokulea and Hikianalia have arrived in Tahiti.

This arrival marks the first time the sister canoes have reunited since the vessels embarked on separate Malama Honua sail plans in spring of 2015 – when Hikianalia sailed for the Hawaiian Islands to advance the education mission of the Worldwide Voyage while Hokulea continued on her unprecedented circumnavigation of the globe. The canoes’ arrival will be celebrated with the Tahiti community tomorrow, April 14, 2017.

Tahiti holds special historical significance for the Polynesian Voyaging Society as the destination of Hokulea’s first deep sea voyage in 1976, over 40 years ago. Tahiti is the largest island of French Polynesia and shares origins with the rest of the Polynesian Triangle. The mountain, Moua Orohena, tops the island and stands 7,352 feet tall, earning the distinction as the highest point in French Polynesia; its height has made Tahiti the home base of voyaging for generations.

Sister canoes Hokulea and Hikianalia will travel to Raiatea for a ceremony in Taputapuatea on April 25. Hokulea and Hikianalia will sail home in early May to begin the final deep-sea leg of the Worldwide Voyage.

Kupu Unveils “The ʻŌhiʻa, the Story of Hawaiʻi’s Tree” on Hawaiian Airlines

Starting this month through July, Hawaiian Airlines will air a special short film, “The ʻŌhiʻa, the Story of Hawaiʻi’s Tree,” as part of its Hawaiian Skies domestic in-flight programming. In partnership with Kupu, Hawai‘i’s leading conservation and youth education organization, USDA Forest Service and Hālau ʻŌhiʻa – Hawaiʻi Stewardship Training program on Hawai‘i Island, the video highlights the cultural and ecological significance of ʻōhiʻa and the impact of Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death (ROD).

ʻŌhiʻa are the most abundant native tree species throughout the state of Hawaiʻi and hold significant biological, cultural and economic value. (Photo by JB Friday)

“This video project presented an opportunity not only to address a major conservation issue, but also share the important work that is being done by our partners, program participants and the community on Hawai‘i Island,” said John Leong, Kupu CEO. “We need to continue to work together to increase awareness about these types of issues, while empowering the next generation of environmental stewards and leaders who will continue to protect our environment and develop more resilient and sustainable communities in Hawai‘i.”

The short film features scientists, conservationists, kumu hula, dancers and families of Hawai‘i Island’s community, who are bound by their aloha for and commitment to ʻōhiʻa. Each share personal stories about ʻōhiʻa and the vital role this tree plays in the environment, Hawaiian culture and community. Featured speakers include: USDA Forest Service Research Ecologists Christian Giardina and Flint Hughes, and Natural Resource Specialist Kainana Francisco; USDA Agricultural Research Service Plant Pathologist Lisa Keith; Hālau ‘Ōhiʻa – Hawaiʻi Stewardship Training Founder and Trainer Kekuhi Keali‘ikanaka‘oleohaililani; Kupu Interns Ardena Saarinen and Kawehi Lopez, and Program Coordinator Malia Heimuli; and Lahela Camara and her daughter Hāwelelani.

“As a destination carrier, we strive to provide our guests with warm hospitality and unique in-flight offerings,” said Renee Awana, senior manager of product development at Hawaiian Airlines. “As part of that, we also understand the importance of educating visitors about our pristine and fragile island habitat. Together with Kupu, we believe this film will shine a light on an important issue that all travelers should be aware of.”

Five species of ʻōhiʻa are endemic to Hawai‘i, one of which, Metrosideros polymorpha, is the most abundant native species in Hawai‘i, making up 80 percent of native forests. As one of the first plants to colonize an area after a lava flow, ʻōhiʻa trees are instrumental in developing soil and forming new ecosystems. They dominate old soil and most everything in between, providing critical habitats for countless native species throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Not only is ʻōhiʻa considered one of the most ecologically significant plants in Hawai‘i, it is deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture through moʻolelo (stories), mele (song), ʻoli (chant) and hula (dance).

“ʻŌhiʻa is as old as the volcanic islands,” said Kekuhi Kealiʻikanakaʻoleohaililani of Hālau ʻŌhiʻa. “When we talk about their significance, we may talk about objects of the culture. But, what we need to begin talking about seriously, is if the ʻōhiʻa were not here, what about our lifeway might change.”

Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death (ROD) is a disease caused by the fungus Ceratocystis Fimbriata. Since it was discovered in 2014, ROD has wiped out ʻōhiʻa trees across 50,000 acres on Hawai‘i Island, at an average loss of 10 percent per year.

“It’s impossible for me to imagine a Hawaiʻi without ʻōhiʻa,” said Kainana Francisco of the USDA Forest Service. “Losing ʻōhiʻa would have devastating ripple effects on our forest landscapes and watersheds, the health of our islands and our communities, and Hawaiʻi culture and lifeways. So it’s important for everyone, Hawai‘i stewardship agencies and organizations, our communities, and even our visitors to our islands, to continue to work together to prevent the disease from spreading, and protect Hawai‘i’s precious natural resources and unique ecosystems.”

While the disease is currently isolated to Hawai‘i Island, it has the potential to spread to other islands and affect ʻōhiʻa and the health of ecosystems statewide. Simple ways that anyone can prevent the spread of ROD include:

  • Not moving any parts of the ʻōhiʻa plant;
  • Not transporting ʻōhiʻa interisland per the State Department of Agriculture’s quarantine rule preventing ROD from reaching other islands;
  • Avoid wounding or pruning ʻōhiʻa plants, which make them vulnerable to the fungus;
  • Decontaminate gear and tools (including shoes and clothes) before and after entering forests; and
  • Wash tires and undercarriages of vehicles when traveling off-road and to any areas affected by ROD.

For more information about ʻōhiʻa, ROD,and other updates on the work that needs to be done about ROD, visit www.rapidohiadeath.org.

“I prefer not to say Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death,” added Kealiʻikanakaʻoleohaililani. “That’s not what we want. What we want is Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Health. Without them, there is no life in the Hawaiʻi Islands.”

Hawaii Representative Responds to Sale of Hawaiian Artifacts in Paris

State Representative Kaniela Ing (Chair, House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs) issued the following statement in response to Native Hawaiians who are protesting the sale of certain artifacts in Paris, France.

This flag is just one of many items up for auction

“Here is a rich guy and an auctioneer trying to make millions off  ‘Hawaiian’ artifacts without reaching out to Bishop Museum or to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for authentication. It’s irresponsible, unprofessional, and disrespectful to our culture.

“However, if these artifacts are indeed authentic, we need to find some funds to bring them home for safe keeping immediately. I’m exploring whether state funds are available and putting a call out to all private residents with means. I’m hoping that a hero emerges who will not only buy the artifacts but donate them to the Bishop Museum for all people to enjoy in perpetuity. Hawaiians need to send the message that our ancestors and culture are not for sale.”

Facebook video link: https://www.facebook.com/mehanaokala/videos/10154458709323441/

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Commits Funds to Protect Hawaiian Coot and Hawaiian Stilt

The Department of the Interior announced that through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Cooperative Recovery Initiative (CRI) more than $3.74 million is being committed to nine projects on 12 national wildlife refuges across 12 states to help recover some of the nation’s most at-risk species on or near national wildlife refuges.

Hawaiian Coot (Photo by Dick Daniels http://carolinabirds.org/)

“We are targeting our work where it will do the most good for America’s resources,” said FWS Acting Director Jim Kurth. “This initiative is a unique way to engage in conservation work with states and partners, giving the taxpayer a good return on investment.”

Species to benefit from CRI funding include the Miami blue butterfly, ocelots, Puritan tiger beetles, masked bobwhite and spectacled eiders.

Since 2013, FWS has funded 66 projects for nearly $27 million through the CRI. Other species that have benefited include the Oregon chub, the first fish in the nation to be taken off the endangered species list; Sonoran pronghorn; dusky gopher frog; and red-cockaded woodpecker. These projects often provide conservation benefits to other imperiled species and encourage partnerships with states and private groups.

Project Details:

Hawaiian Stilt

Pacific Region
Protect Two Endangered Hawaiian Waterbirds and Core Wetland Habitats at Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge

A project team will establish long-lasting protections for two endangered birds, the Hawaiian coot and Hawaiian stilt, against predators and ungulates and create new habitat, resulting in a large-scale restoration of Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, a critically important wetland habitat in Hawaii.

Enhance the Conservation Status of Spalding’s Catchfly
A project team will establish five additional viable subpopulations of 500 individual threatened Spalding’s catchfly on protected habitat at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in Washington and three other partner and privately-owned locations within the Channeled Scablands and Palouse Prairie regions in Washington and Idaho.

Southwest Region
Protect Endangered Species Corridors in the Rio Grande Valley

Staff at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in Texas will work with partners to acquire a 400-acre conservation easement to expand habitat between the refuge and Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge for the endangered ocelot. The increased habitat will also aid the endangered northern aplomado falcon.

Establish Second Captive Breeding Population of Masked Bobwhite Quail in North America
A project team will expand the endangered masked bobwhite population by creating a captive population in a rearing facility at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona and establish a second captive population and biosecurity program at Sutton Avian Research Center.

Southeast Region
Protect and Enhance Watercress Darter Habitat at Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge

A project team will maintain the current pool habitats on Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama for the endangered watercress darter to improve migration and genetic diversity, promote additional aquatic habitats on the refuge, and monitor restored and developed habitats. They will also remove a failing water control structure, promote connectivity for fish passage between pools, and enhance habitats downstream or adjacent to the pools.

Habitat Restoration through Prescribed Fire at Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge for 11 Listed Plant Species and the Florida Scrub Jay
A project team will restore fire-suppressed scrub and sandhill habitat to enhance populations of 11 listed plant species and the endangered Florida scrub jay at Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. In particular, the staff will augment the only protected population of endangered Garrett’s mint through seed collection and strategic dispersal, which will significantly increase the population.

Restore Populations of the Critically Endangered Miami Blue Butterfly
A project team will establish new viable populations of the endangered Miami blue butterfly over a much larger geographic range in south Florida, including on National Key Deer Refuge, Great Heron National Wildlife Refuge, and local state parks.

Northeast Region
Puritan Tiger Beetle Habitat Enhancement and Population Stabilization in the Connecticut River Watershed

Two new viable subpopulations of the threatened Puritan tiger beetle will be established by a project team from Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge on state-owned lands in New Hampshire and Vermont, within the Connecticut River watershed. The project will optimize a captive rearing protocol, enabling the beetle to be reared in the lab and translocated to protected habitat sites.

Alaska Region
Estimate Global Abundance and Evaluate Changes in At-Sea Distribution of Threatened Spectacled Eiders.

A project team will estimate the global population of threatened spectacled eiders as well as evaluate changes in distribution at marine molting, staging, and wintering areas, including in Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The team will also evaluate changes in non-breeding distribution of adult females captured on the refuge breeding area.

For more information on the 2017 projects and those in previous years, please visit: https://www.fws.gov/refuges/whm/cri/.

Nainoa Thompson Receives Explorers Club Medal, the Most Prestigious Recognition in Exploration

Navigator and president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society Nainoa Thompson was honored this evening with the 2017 Explorers Club Medal, the most prestigious recognition in exploration. The award was presented to Thompson at the 113th Explorers Club Annual Dinner at Ellis Island in New York City.  The medal is awarded annually to select individuals for their extraordinary contributions directly in the field of exploration, scientific research, or to the welfare of humanity.

2017 Explorers Club Medal winner Nainoa Thompson with ocean explorer, Sylvia Earle.

Thompson was recognized for his historic work to revive and perpetuate Polynesian wayfinding and for leading the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage as captain and navigator of iconic sailing canoe Hokulea. Thompson has dedicated his life to teaching the art and values of wayfinding to generations of navigators throughout Polynesia and from across the globe. He was the first Native Hawaiian to practice long-distance wayfinding since the 14th century and consequently inspired a voyaging renaissance throughout the Pacific.

Today, Hokulea is completing the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage, a journey to inspire communities to care for themselves, each other, and their natural and cultural environments for a more sustainable future. To date, Hokulea has sailed over 31,000 nautical miles around the world.

Hokulea is currently on her way to the Marquesas Islands. The canoe’s last stop will be in Tahiti where she will meet up with her sister canoe, Hikianalia and sail back to Hawaii together on the final leg of the Worldwide Voyage.

The Explorers Club also honored Hokulea at a special Presidential Dinner in June 2016 on World Oceans Day.

In addition to Thompson, Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, M.D. received the Explorers Club Medal for Solar Impulse, a solar powered airplane circumnavigation project that has raised public awareness and encouraged political actions in favor of clean technologies and energy efficiency around the world. The event was hosted by two-time Academy Award winning actor, Robert DeNiro, who introduced a congratulatory video from past Explorers Club Medal recipient, award-winning filmmaker, and fellow Ocean Elder, James Cameron. Cameron’s video discussed the importance of education, conservation, and oceans exploration, lauding the night’s awardees for their landmark endeavors and environmental stewardship.

Founded in 1904 in New York City, The Explorers Club is an international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore. The Club serves as a meeting point and unifying force for explorers and scientists worldwide, promoting the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences. An illustrious series of first explorations are credited to members of the Club, including the first visit to the North Pole, first to the South Pole, first to the summit of Mount Everest, first to the deepest point in the ocean and first to the surface of the moon.

The Explorers Club Medal is the Club’s highest honor. Past recipients of the Explorers Club Medal include James Cameron, for his outstanding contributions to ocean science; Walter H. Munk, for his extraordinary oceanography achievements that span his 75-year career; and Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ph.D., for his significant contributions to the welfare of humanity through science and education.

For information on the Explorers Club Awards and other 2017 recipients, please click here.

Second Annual Hawaii Island Festival of Birds Announced

Program dates for the Second Annual Hawaii Island Festival of Birds have been announced as September 15 – 17, 2017 and will once again be headquartered at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.

The Festival program will feature expert guest speakers Jeff Gordon, President of the American Birding Association, and Kenn Kaufman, renowned author, artist and conservationist along with a trade show for outdoor and birding equipment, children’s corner, bird-themed arts and crafts fair, photography and painting workshops, a birding film festival, and time to interact with Hawaii Island naturalists and bird experts. Guided field trips on land and sea will be included in the program offering.

Birdwatching! Photo by Lance Tanino

Festival participants will be able to take part in guided birdwatching field trips along the newly created Hawaii Island Coast to Coast Birding Trail, and in guided boat trips departing from Honokohau Harbor to observe seabirds.  The 90-mile Hawaii Island Coast to Coast Birding Trail is a cross-island link from Kona (on the west coast) to Hilo (on the east coast) that connects diverse habitats from ocean to mountain top, rainforest to lava plains.  The self-guided Hawaii Island Coast to Coast Birding Trail, modeled after similar North American trails, follows a network of sites so users can take in all or any part of the route along the way. Locating and observing birds is, of course, the main event on the Trail, but discovering Hawaii Island’s unique plants and trees, geology, history and scenic view points are also emphasized.

Palila photo by Jack Jeffrey

New this year will be a birding-focused film festival on Friday (September 15) with documentaries about Hawaiian birds showing on Friday afternoon plus a feature film playing outdoors on Friday night.  Saturday’s workshops will include an expert talk from Brian Sullivan, project leader for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for eBird.org, and a panel discussion by naturalists and biologists of their last sightings of now extinct Hawaiian birds.

Photo by Jack Jeffrey

Saturday’s program options include a hands-on Photography Workshop and an Art Workshop with materials provided.  Saturday night’s Gala Dinner will be headlined by Kenn Kaufman speaking on the significance of Hawaii’s unique bird life. Detailed schedule of events is available at birdfesthawaii.org

New American Birding Association Recognition

Following last year’s inaugural Hawaii Island Festival of Birds, members of the American Birding Association voted overwhelming to add Hawaii to the ABA Area. For birders, this is huge as it has the potential to add substantially to the official ABA Area Checklist. There are at least 320 bird species documented in the Hawaiian Islands, of which 30 endemics remain. “There’s so much to learn about Hawaii’s native birds,” said Rob Pacheco, founder of Hawaii Forest & Trail and a member of the Festival’s organizing committee. “And we’re thrilled that Hawaii is now recognized as part of the ABA Area by the American Birding Association. We look forward to welcoming ABA’s members, and birding fans in general, to Hawaii and the Hawaii Island Festival of Birds.”

Sponsors of the Hawaii Island Festival of Birds include Hawaii Tourism Authority, County of Hawaii, Hawaii Forest & Trail, Destination Marketing, Hawaii Wildlife Center and Alaska Airlines.

Hawaiian Airline Pilots Ratify Contracts, Get Pay Increases

Hawaiian Airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) announced today that the union’s membership ratified a 63-month contract amendment that provides significant compensation increases for the airline’s 670 pilots.

Pilots approved the contract amendment outlined in a tentative agreement reached last month between Hawaiian and ALPA. The amendment takes effect April 1 and its term extends through July 1, 2022.

“This contract amendment recognizes the contributions our pilots have made to our company, while allowing us to continue to grow and compete as a world-class airline,” said Jon Snook, Hawaiian’s chief operating officer and the company’s lead negotiator.

Hawaiian Airlines reached new accords in 2016 with three labor unions representing more than 2,200 employees. It is currently in negotiations with the Association of Flight Attendants, whose contract became amendable in January.

Hikianalia Launches from Hawaii to Reunite with Hokulea

Polynesian sailing vessel Hikianalia launched from the Marine Education Training Center at Sand Island today to meet her sister canoe Hokulea in Tahiti. This will be the crew’s final stop to share the Malama Honua message before sailing back home to complete the Worldwide Voyage.

The journey to Tahiti marks the inaugural voyage as captain for apprentice navigator Kala Baybayan Tanaka. Tanaka is an educator and apprentice navigator with Maui’s voyaging society, Hui o Waa Kaulua, where she teaches about  Polynesian wayfinding techniques to children and other interested learners. Tanaka draws her inspiration and connection to voyaging from her father and pwo navigator, Kalepa Baybayan, who will also be aboard while Kala captains Hikianalia to Tahiti.

“As a captain for the first time I’m reminded of the amazing teachers like my dad who I’ve learned from over the years,” said Kala Babayan, captain of Hikianalia. “It’s truly an honor to lead this leg on an epic journey that aims to inspire the world and our home here in Hawaiʻi.”

Hikianalia is the Hawaiian name for the star also known as Spica, which rises together with Hokulea (Arcturus) in Hawaii. They are sister stars because they break the horizon together at the latitude of the Hawaiian Islands. The 72-foot canoe Hikianalia is a modern Polynesian voyaging canoe and sister canoe to the Hokulea, uses sustainable solar and wind energy to combine the latest ecological technology with the heritage of the voyaging tradition.

The crews anticipate arrival at Tahiti around mid-April. They will travel throughout Tahiti and Raiatea to engage with the local community in ceremony and education outreach as they celebrate the message of caring for Island Earth at the close of the nearly four-year long voyage. Together, Hokulea and Hikianalia will head home to a welcoming ceremony on Magic Island in June 2017.

ʻImiloa Astronomy Center Announces First-Ever Endowment Gift

The legacy of the late educator and government planner Ilima Piʻianaiʻa is being celebrated through the establishment of a new endowment at the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo.

Gordon Piʻianaiʻa of Honolulu and Norman Piʻianaiʻa of Kamuela have made a gift through the University of Hawaiʻi Foundation to create a new permanently endowed fund to honor their sister and expand access to educational programming at ʻImiloa by K-12 students.

“Just as we are marking the 11th anniversary of our opening, ʻImiloa is thrilled to have our very first permanent endowment, a fund that will benefit the center in perpetuity and enable us to share our unique brand of programming with both current and future generations of young people,” said ʻImiloa Executive Director Kaʻiu Kimura. “We are humbled by the Piʻianaiʻa family’s vote of confidence in ʻImiloa and excited about what this will mean in our second decade and beyond!”

UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney added, “This wonderful gift will benefit the children of Hawaiʻi for years to come.”

About Ilima Piʻianaiʻa

Born and raised on Oʻahu, Ilima Piʻianaiʻa (1947–2006) pursued a noteworthy career in the public sector, starting with her service as a Hawaiʻi County planner helping to develop a general plan for the island. She later served with the Hawaiʻi Community Development Authority and worked on the Kakaʻako Improvement District, among other projects.

Ilima Piʻianaiʻa

She lectured in geography and planning at UH Mānoa from 1980 to 1984, administered the Task Force on the Hawaiian Homes Commission from 1982 to 1983, then held appointments as Hawaiʻi County deputy planning director, director of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, director of the Office of International Relations and Affairs, and deputy director of the state Department of Agriculture.

Norman Piʻianaiʻa commented about his sister, “Even though Ilima was from Honolulu, she loved the Big Island and its people. She moved here around 1970 and mentored in the planning department under Director Raymond Suefuji during the days of Mayor Shunichi Kimura, a time when things were in a process of great change in Hawaiʻi. With ancestral roots firmly planted here, we are confident that Ilima would be pleased to know she has in this way returned and will continue to help nurture and contribute to the future education and development of Hawaiʻi Island youngsters.”

A longtime friend of Ilima, Deanne Lemle Bosnak, remembers her as “a perfect embodiment of ‘aloha.’ She personally represented Hawaiʻi’s beautiful blend of cultures, its warm hospitality and its welcoming aloha spirit. She was also a diplomat who worked hard to build bridges between disparate communities and cultures, demonstrating in everything she did a deep respect for the land and the values of its people.”

Annual distributions from the Ilima Piʻianaiʻa Endowment will support access to ʻImiloa by local elementary, middle and high school students, and may include subsidized admission and or transportation to the center, subsidized fees for ʻImiloa programs, and/or program outreach to rural parts of Hawaiʻi Island and the state.

To make a gift to the Ilima Piʻianaiʻa Endowment please visit the UH Foundations website.

DBEDT Recruiting Hawaii Companies for 2017 Tokyo International Gift Show

For the sixth consecutive year, the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) is promoting Hawaii-made products through a special Hawaii Pavilion at the autumn 2017 Tokyo International Gift Show (TIGS).

During Sept. 6-8, 2017, at the Tokyo Big Sight venue, the Hawaii Pavilion will be home base for up to 70 Hawaii companies seeking to export locally made gift products.  TIGS is the largest international trade show in Japan with more than 4,100 exhibitors showcasing personal gifts, consumer goods and decorative accessories.  Show organizers anticipate more than 200,000 buyers, wholesalers and distributers to attend the three-day trade show.

“The Tokyo International Gift Show provides the opportunity to showcase Hawaii’s unique products to an international audience,” said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria. “This helps us grow our trade sector and add value to the Hawaii brand, which is recognized around the world, especially in Japan.”

At last year’s Tokyo International Gift Show, 62 Hawaii companies reported projected sales of more than $15 million.

A sampling of Hawaii-made products showcased at last year’s gift show included:

  • Fashion: casual and resort wear and accessories
  • Specialty food and gift products: many of which are only found in Hawaii
  • Cosmetics and nutraceuticals: derived from our natural ocean and botanical resources
  • Agricultural products: such as candies and fruit jams, jellies and preserves; fresh Maui-grown pineapple and onion; Big Island macadamia nuts, papaya and coffee.
  • Locally designed jewelry
  • Wood products: utilizing koa and specialty woods.

Funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grant, the Hawaii Pavilion at TIGS is part of a series of initiatives DBEDT has undertaken to increase the export of Hawaii’s products.

Export-ready Hawaii companies interested in participating in the 2017 Tokyo International Gift Show should email dbedt.tigs@hawaii.gov to receive an exhibitor’s packet or apply online at invest.hawaii.gov.

Deadline to submit application forms is Friday, April 7, 2017.

Hokulea Departs from Rapa Nui for the Pitcairn Islands

The crew of Hawaii’s legendary Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokulea yesterday departed from Rapa Nui as they continue on their Malama Honua voyage and head to Pitcairn. Hokulea returns to the Pitcairn Islands for the first time since her voyage in 1999, when the canoe sailed around the Polynesian Triangle.

While in Rapa Nui, the crew worked alongside the Nahiku Student Delegation to help fulfill the mission of the Worldwide Voyage by connecting with the local community and representing Hawaii. The Nahiku Student Delegation and Hokulea crew activities included meetings with both the Governor and Mayor of Rapa Nui, a visit to the Kupuna (elders) of Hare Koa Tiare Care Home, and a tour of Museo Rapa Nui. Hokuleawas honored with a traditional landing ceremony on Anakena Beach, the site of historic seafaring welcomes for the small island community of Rapa Nui.

“Returning to Rapa Nui and reconnecting with our ohana and other community members is an important milestone for Hokulea and the Worldwide Voyage, marking our return to the Polynesian triangle and the deep history of Polynesian voyaging,” said pwo navigator Bruce Blankenfeld, captain of the Hokulea. “This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our shared commitment to preserving traditions, values, and environment, but also to discuss the challenges that we face in light of changes to our ocean and well-being as island people.”

The Pitcairn Islands are a cluster of volcanic islands and atolls in the southern Pacific Ocean forming the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific. The area around Pitcairn Islands is one of the most pristine places on the Earth.

Following Pitcairn, Hokulea will head to the Marquesas Islands and to Tahiti, where she will be greeted by the local community in mid-April.  From Tahiti,  the crew will continue their journey home to Hawaii and will be welcomed at Magic Island, on June 17, 2017.

Hawaiian Airlines Joins Global Climate Change Monitoring Effort

Hawaiian Airlines has become the first U.S. carrier to join an international scientific project that enlists commercial airlines in the research of climate change and air quality worldwide. Hawaiian partnered with the In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System (IAGOS) venture by recently equipping one Airbus A330-200 aircraft with an atmospheric monitoring tool that will collect valuable data throughout the airline’s far-reaching network covering the Pacific, Asia and North America.

Hawaiian’s A330 aircraft, bearing registration N384HA, arrived at Honolulu International Airport over the weekend after spending weeks in Brisbane, Australia, where technicians installed IAGOS instruments under its cockpit that will be attached to probes in the front-left fuselage. The probes will autonomously perform atmospheric air samples from take-off to landing and record key high-altitude greenhouse gas measurements. They will also retrieve information about icing conditions that may be useful in aircraft safety studies. The system is expected to be operational around April following FAA certification.

“We are honored to lend our support to IAGOS and help assess the health of our atmosphere and measure climate change,” said Captain Ken Rewick, Hawaiian’s vice president of flight operations.

“We are excited to see Hawaiian Airlines becoming a partner in IAGOS. Instrumenting commercial airliners is a cutting-edge approach and cost-effective for obtaining large amounts of high quality data about our atmosphere,” said James Butler, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Global Monitoring Division, and chairman of the IAGOS Science Advisory Board. “Scientists around the world will increasingly use data from IAGOS flights to help improve weather forecasts, climate models, and our overall understanding of the Earth system. This is a great step forward for science.”

Scientists expect Hawaiian’s system to produce valuable metrics thanks to the carrier’s unique central Pacific location and network of non-stop flights extending from Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, and Tahiti in the South Pacific, to China, South Korea, Japan and the United States (including 10 western U.S. gateways and New York) in the North Pacific. According to IAGOS, commercial aircraft are uniquely positioned to collect highly relevant observations on a scale and in numbers impossible to achieve via dedicated research aircraft or satellites. All information will be transmitted after each flight to the IAGOS data center in France and shared with the scientific community within a few weeks.

Based in Brussels, the European-funded IAGOS is a not-for-profit association whose members include leading research organizations, universities and weather services from Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The program observes atmospheric data to better understand transcontinental pollution and validate air quality and climate models. Its information is used by about 200 universities or institutes in Europe, the United States, Japan, South America, India and China.

Hawaiian’s participation in IAGOS aligns with the carrier’s ongoing commitment to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment. Hawaiian is investing in fuel efficient aircraft by adding 18 new A321neos to its fleet starting later this year. Last year, the airline also conducted two demonstration flights to Honolulu from Brisbane and Auckland using a series of gate-to-gate environmental best practices outlined by the Asia and Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions (ASPIRE).

For more information, please visit IAGOS at iagos.org.

Hōkūleʻa Arrives at Rapa Nui (AKA Easter Island)

Crewmembers aboard Hōkūleʻa have arrived to Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, a journey that’s expected to take about two and a half weeks.

“Rapa Nui signifies a major cultural return for Polynesian navigation and our Worldwide Voyage as we re-enter the Polynesian triangle, the birthplace of our wayfinding heritage,” said master navigator Nainoa Thompson.

The crew will stay on the island for approximately a week before sailing on to French Polynesia.

After voyaging approximately 1,900 nautical miles over six days, Leg 28 crewmembers landed in Rapa Nui and we were greeted by long time friends and family that have been close to Hōkūleʻa for decades. Because Captain Archie Kalepa needed to depart the evening crewmembers arrived, the group expedited a visit to Tongariki, where 15 Moai stand guard to the east.

The arrival to Rapa Nui was suddenly made real as the crew stood in the shadow of these wonders that have been witnesses to the incredible changes that this place has seen. Crewmembers are using this time for quiet reflection after finishing the epic voyage from the Galapagos.

Hawaiian Airlines Welcomes Public High School Students to Inaugural Ka Ho‘okele Mentorship Program

Hawaiian Airlines is opening its doors to public high school students in a new mentorship program that provides hands-on learning about all aspects of the airline industry.

The carrier’s Ka Ho‘okele “The Navigator” Explorers Program, developed with the Aloha Council Boy Scouts, features more than 20 Hawaiian Airlines employees from diverse sectors of the company who volunteer to mentor high school students in aviation careers.

In a recent visit to Hawaiian Airlines’ maintenance facility, public high school students practiced sheet metal skills as part of the carrier’s Ka Ho’okeele mentorship program.

Earlier this week, the inaugural class of 19 students from nine O‘ahu public high schools, including Castle, Farrington, Kailua, Kalāheo, Kalani, Kapolei, Mililani, Moanalua, and Pearl City, took part in their first afterschool tour of Hawaiian’s maintenance operations. Students were given a safety briefing, practiced sheet metal skills such as cutting, bending and fitting, studied aircraft electronic systems and observed quality control checks.

“Ka Ho‘okele provides youngsters in our community a window into the multiple facets of the airline business, introduces them to a large array of skills and showcases exciting career options available for them to pursue,” said Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, Hawaiian’s director of community relations.

“Aloha Council, Boy Scouts of America is proud to partner with Hawaiian Airlines in providing a high-quality career-oriented Explorers program. The students will gain invaluable career skills through the mentoring provided by Hawaiian Airlines,” said Jeff Sulzbach, scout executive and CEO of Aloha Council.

Participants will spend the next 10 weeks immersed in Hawaiian’s operations as employees share their expertise in areas ranging from cargo to flight and airport operations, among many other fields. Throughout the program, the group will also be introduced to Hawaiian’s culture of Ho‘okipa (Hawaiian hospitality), learn about educational requirements to achieve successful aviation careers, and practice key job skills such as interviewing, presentation and teamwork.

Prior to an exam and graduation in May, the class will participate in a weekend community service activity alongside Hawaiian’s Team Kōkua volunteers.

The Ka Ho‘okele program is the latest addition to the airline’s growing education outreach efforts in the community. Over the past several years, Hawaiian has conducted popular Keiki Tours for preschool and elementary students at Honolulu International Airport and it recently launched a mechanic apprenticeship program with the Honolulu Community College’s Aeronautics Maintenance and Technology program and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union. Last year, the Hawaiian Airlines Foundation donated $50,000 to Maryknoll School’s new high school Mx Scholar Program for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) & Aerospace.

For more details about the Ka Ho‘okele program, please visit https://scoutingevent.com/104-ExProgramHawaiianAirlines.

Hokulea Crew Overcomes Major Navigational Challenge and Finds Rapa Nui

The crew of Hokulea arrived safely at Rapa Nui today after sailing for about 16 days across approximately 1,900 nautical miles of deep ocean. A team of four apprentice navigators successfully lead the Hokulea and the major navigational challenge of spotting the tiny remote island of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) yesterday at sunset. The crew spotted the island about 43 nautical miles out.

“Finding Rapa Nui was by far one of the biggest challenges our crew has faced,” said Hokulea captain, Archie Kalepa. “With a few more months left in this journey, we’re glad to be back in Polynesian waters and for the opportunity to reconnect with the Rapa Nui community.”

This is the first time Hokulea has visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site since her last voyage to the island 18 years ago. The Rapa Nui arrival also marks the voyaging canoe’s return to the Polynesian triangle since departing these waters three years ago on the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

The team of apprentice navigators have been working together on navigating and turning studies into practice since departing the Galapagos Islands on February 12, 2017. They have been guiding the way by using their knowledge of the stars and taking directional cues derived from their observations of nature. Because of its tiny size and remote location, Rapa Nui is considered one of the most difficult islands to find using traditional wayfinding.

After making landfall in Rapa Nui, the crew will be joined by a teacher and student delegation from Hawaii and the group will spend the week participating in cultural and educational engagements with Rapa Nui leaders and the community.  Activities will include meeting both the Governor and Mayor of Rapa Nui, a visit to the kupuna (elders) of Hare Koa Tiare Care Home, and a tour of Museo Rapa Nui. The crew and delegation will also connect with the Toki School of Music for a day of community service and voyaging outreach.

With famed archaeological sites including nearly 900 monumental statues called moai and an isolated environment rich with unique diversity, the small volcanic island of Rapa Nui represents an opportunity for the crew to learn more about the island’s status as a World Heritage Site as well as the strong cultural history of its Polynesian ancestors.

Following Rapa Nui, Hokulea will sail to French Polynesia before her return home to Magic Island on June 17, 2017.

SSI and Hawaiian Airlines Launch New Rewards Program

SSI and Hawaiian Airlines announced a new rewards program today called Opinions Take Flight.  The program offers HawaiianMiles members the opportunity to earn award miles by participating in surveys and sharing their opinions.

Click to see how the program works

Currently in its 88th year of continuous service, Hawaiian Airlines is Hawaii’s biggest and longest-in-service airline, as well as the largest provider of passenger air service from its primary visitor markets on the U.S. mainland.  HawaiianMiles members who enroll in the free Opinions Take Flight program (http://www.opinionstakeflight.com) will grow SSI’s B2B U.S. sample membership and provide SSI clients more access to consumer and business travelers’ opinions.

As the program rolls out to other countries, SSI is expecting additional signups from HawaiianMiles members living and working in Japan, South Korea, China, Australia and New Zealand.  SSI is the premier data audience company with over 2 million B2B sample members globally.

HawaiianMiles members who newly enroll in the Opinions Take Flight panel will receive 350 award miles after completing their first survey.  Award miles will be directly deposited into member accounts and can be redeemed for air travel, car rentals, hotel stays and shopping.

“We are extremely excited for our HawaiianMiles members to experience the Opinions Take Flight program with SSI,” said Char Oshiro, senior director for HawaiianMiles, based in Honolulu.  “In our continuing effort to offer new opportunities to earn miles toward travel-related services, this relationship with SSI will be a first for HawaiianMiles.  We have great confidence in SSI and its team.  They have built a fantastic reputation as the world’s largest multi-mode sample provider to professionals around the globe seeking insights.”

SSI’s business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) audiences are part of the world’s largest and most trusted proprietary sample, which means participants are carefully recruited, verified and managed according to SSI’s high standards.  SSI reaches and engages even the most challenging targets from more than 90 countries.  Sixty-two percent of SSI research projects are multi-cultural.

“SSI is a company deeply rooted in creating data solutions and technology for consumer and business-to-business survey research.  We’ve held a leadership position in providing audience for insights and created the largest network of audience focused loyalty programs around the world,” said Bob Fawson, SSI chief product officer.  “SSI is dedicated to helping companies go from product discovery to product supremacy.  By joining the Opinions Take Flight panel, HawaiianMiles members will experience a simple and easy way to earn miles to help global companies improve their products and services.”

Willie K Headlines 17th Annual Great Waikoloa ‘Ukulele Festival

Called “Hawaiian Hendrix to Polynesian Pavarotti,” Uncle Willie K has wowed world audiences since he started playing music with his dad’s band at age 6. For the first time, Willie K will make a special appearance at the 17th Annual Great Waikoloa ‘Ukulele Festival Saturday, March 4 at Queens’ MarketPlace.

Just part of the day-long line up of ‘ukulele superstars on three stages, Willie K is a Grammy nominee, and winner of 18 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards. His talented fingers and powerful voice stretch the limits from sweet falsetto, to lowdown blues, blow-your-hair-back rock, and operatic aria.

The ‘Ukulele Festival begins with Roy Sakuma’s traditional free ‘ukulele workshop, this year at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa’s Paniolo Ballroom at 10 a.m.

From 11:15 a.m., throughout the day, live entertainment takes place on three stages at Kings’ Shops and Queens’ MarketPlace.

The all-star lineup includes:

Lito Arkangel. From Keaau in East Hawai‘i, Lito is a Navy veteran, lecturer at UH Hilo and regular entertainer in resort lounges. He is an accomplished musician and Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards nominee who has also played the big stage at the Merrie Monarch Festival.

Kris Fuchigami. A Hawai‘i Island musician, Kris won the Hamakua Music Scholarship Competition at the age of 15. Since then, he has released five CDs, and performed worldwide. Kris has an exciting style that pulls in elements of pop, rock and contemporary sound.

Arden Fujiwara. Born in Hawai‘i, Arden is now part of the Seattle music scene, fusing ‘ukulele tradition with the progressive, including rock and hip hop.

Kunia Galdeira. Grandson of Gabby “Pops” Pahinui, Kunia learned to play ‘ukulele at a very young age. He is an in-deman solo artist and also frequently plays with Sonny Lim and Kevin Kealoha as the trio, “Ekolu Mea Nui.”

The Humble Project, led by Tad Humble and K.U.P.A Hale, led by Alan Hale. These two groups of dedicated musicians from Kona with a common love for ‘ukulele music and for sharing it with others of all ages.

Alii Keanaaina. Originally from North Kona, Alii first toured with his twin brother Nui, before stepping into the solo spotlight in 2010, when he won the Clyde “Kindy” Sproat Falsetto Contest. He tours in Japan, Las Vegas, and around the Islands, and easily pleases crowds with his smooth falsetto and full voice Hawaiian music.

Widdy Loo. Born and raised Hawai’i Island, Widdy is a lifelong musician who plays a wide variety of music, often incorporating hula and stories of “Old Hawai‘i”.

Maluhia. George Bence and Beverly McCabe created the Hawaiian-Canadian musical blend, Maluhia  (“peace”). They share their time and music between Hawai‘i and Vancouver Islands.

Brittni Paiva. Brittni’s musical career started with piano lessons at age four in her hometown, Hilo. She picked up ‘ukulele at eleven and has since released six CDs, won the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for ‘Ukulele Album of the Year, and traveled internationally. Her multi-genre style melds traditional, pop, alternative, EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and more, and she has pioneered the looping technique on ‘ukulele in her YouTube videos.

Mark Yamanaka. A nine-time Hōkū winner from Hilo, Mark is known for his sweet and soulful Hawaiian music and falsetto, performs frequently in the island and Japan.

The festival includes prizes and ‘ukulele giveaways by sponsoring companies.

The 17th Annual Great Waikoloa ‘Ukulele Festival is a production of Waikoloa Beach Resort and ‘Ukulele Festival Hawai’i. Sponsors include Queens’ MarketPlace, Roy Sakuma ‘Ukulele Studios, Kings’ Shops, Kamaka ‘Ukulele, Kala Brand ‘Ukuleles, Koaloha, Ko‘olau Pono Guitar and ‘Ukulele Company, Kanile‘a ‘Ukulele and others. For more information on Saturday’s ‘Ukulele Festival visit www.WaikoloaBeachResort.com or call (808) 886-8822.

GREAT WAIKOLOA ‘UKULELE FESTIVAL:  SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:  Saturday, March 4, 2017

Waikoloa Beach Marriott, Paniolo Ballroom
10-11:30 a.m.
‘Ukulele Workshop with Roy and Kathy Sakuma. BYOU (bring your own ‘ukulele). Free.

Queens’ MarketPlace, Coronation Pavilion:
12 noon    The Humble Project
1 p.m.        Kunia Galdeira
2 p.m.        Kris Fuchigami
3 p.m.        Lito Arkangel
4 p.m.        Roy Sakuma with Nelly Toyama-Baduria, Daniel Baduria and Nick Acosta
5 p.m.         Willie K
6 p.m.        Mark Yamanaka

Queens’ MarketPlace, Island Gourmet Markets Stage:
1 p.m.        Alii Keanaaina
2 p.m.        K.U.P.A Hale
3 p.m.        Maluhia
4 p.m.        Arden Fujiwara

Kings’ Shops, Center Stage
11:15 p.m.    Widdy Loo
12noon    Kris Fuchigami
1 p.m.        Roy Sakuma with Nelly Toyama-Baduria, Daniel Baduria and Nick Acosta
2 p.m.        Maluhia
3 p.m.        Arden Fujiwara
4 p.m.        Brittni Paiva

Hawaiian Airlines Remains Top Carrier for Punctuality – 13th Consecutive Year Holding Title

Hawaiian Airlines remained the nation’s top carrier for punctuality in 2016, as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), marking the airline’s 13th consecutive year holding the title.

Click to view Air Travel Consumer Report for February 2017

Hawai’i’s largest and longest-serving airline averaged a 91.1 percent on-time performance rating in 2016, earning the top ranking in all but one month and exceeding the industry average for the year by 9.7 percentage points. For December, Hawaiian Airlines posted a leading 85.1 percent on-time performance rating. The carrier also ranked first in fewest flight cancellations with 0.1 percent, or nine cancellations out of 6,347 flights.

“It’s no secret that our more than 6,000 employees work passionately every day to ensure our guests arrive at their destination on-time,” said Mark Dunkerley, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines. “Our success the past 13 years is a direct result of their hard work, and I continue to be inspired by their dedication to our guests.”

Last month, Hawaiian was also named the world’s most punctual airline in 2016 by air travel intelligence company OAG in its annual ranking of on-time performance for all global airlines and airports.

Hawai’i’s largest and longest-serving airline provides daily non-stop service to Hawai’i from 11 gateway cities in North America – more cities than any other carrier – using Airbus A330-200 and Boeing 767-300 aircraft. Hawaiian Airlines also operates approximately 160 daily flights between the Hawaiian Islands using Boeing 717-200 aircraft.

The DOT’s monthly Air Travel Consumer Report ranking the nation’s 16 largest air carriers is available online at www.dot.gov/individuals/air-consumer/air-travel-consumer-reports.

Hawaiian Airline Pilots to Hold Ratification Vote

Hawaiian Airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) have reached a Tentative Agreement on a 63-month contract amendment covering the airline’s 665 pilots, the company announced today. ALPA will hold a ratification vote scheduled to take place between March 6 and 24. If ratified, the amendment becomes effective April 1 and remains in effect until July 1, 2022.

“I am pleased that we have been able to reach an agreement that offers our pilots a significant increase in compensation,” said Jon Snook, Hawaiian’s chief operating officer and the company’s lead negotiator.

The company reached new accords in 2016 with three labor unions representing more than 2,200 employees. It is currently in negotiations with the Association of Flight Attendants, whose contract became amendable in January.