Ho‘ala Stu­dent’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Plea Wins State Es­say Con­test

MidWeek Islander (Central Oahu) - - Central Oahu Islander -

Ho‘ala School sev­en­th­grader Kate Welch was selected as a win­ner in the 2014 My Hawaii Story Con­test, a cre­ative writ­ing com­pe­ti­tion open to all mid­dle school stu­dents.

The youths were in­vited to sub­mit their best story or poem that ad­dresses the theme, “Nav­i­gat­ing Change in the Pa­cific Is­lands.”

An ex­cerpt of Welch’s es­say, “Ka‘ena: A Jour­ney Through Time,” is be­low.

I’m walk­ing on the beach as wa­ter and sand swirl around my an­kles, and be­tween my toes. Waves crash upon the rocks and salt spray fills the air around me. Look­ing to­ward Ka‘ena Point, I feel re­laxed and at peace.

As I con­tinue my trek along the coast, my hap­pi­ness is shat­tered when I look to­ward the nearby land and no­tice bro­ken glass, food wrap­pers and cig­a­rette butts spread across the dirt roads made by trucks, ATVs and dirt bikes.

Along the coast, fish­ing line and plas­tic bags are en­twined through­out the cracks and crevices of the up­lifted co­ral reef.

Over the ear-split­ting sounds from dirt bikes and trucks rac­ing past me, I hear the voice of the earth god­dess, Papa, on the wind whip­ping around the coast. She calls out, ‘What have you people done to your home? Your ‘aina? Hawaii?’

The voice fades away when I start walk­ing to­ward the point. There is less and less trash. I hike un­til I reach the pro­tec­tive fence. As I open, then walk through the gates, it feels like I’m go­ing back to the time of our kupuna.

Here, there is no trash! Here there are no dirt bikes, ATVs or trucks. I see the moli, fly­ing freely over the cliffs and the ocean. The koa‘e kea squawk and call out to each other while they search for caves to build their nests.

On land, there are no roads, only foot­paths. The air is filled with the sounds of an­cient oli, thank­ing the gods for pro­vid­ing food for the day.

The clap of thun­der in the dis­tance snaps me out of my slum­ber. The ‘ilio- holoikauaua hear the storm as well and re­turn to their un­der­wa­ter home. I move on and pass by sev­eral ‘ua‘u kani (wedge-tailed shear­wa­ter) bur­rows.

I re­mem­ber hear­ing from my kumu that these birds only re­turn to their bur­rows in March and lay a sin­gle white egg in June. This is the sea­son for moli to nest at Ka‘ena.

It’s turn­ing late and the sun is start­ing to set over the hori­zon. I thank the gods for show­ing me the Ka‘ena of the past, and why we need to take care of our aina.

This pro­tected coastal ecosys­tem shows us what it could look like if we all cared for the spec­tac­u­lar coast­line. As I trek back to the trail­head, I no­tice the pa‘u o hi‘iaka and ‘ilima re­claim­ing the land.

I pick up as much trash as I can carry. The bags are heavy, and the trash smells hor­ri­ble, but I’m help­ing to heal the aina. I hear a whis­pered ‘Maika‘i’ from the gods. I will be back soon, and I will bring friends.

To­gether we will care for this land we call home.

Con­test win­ner Kate Welch. Cour­tesy photo.

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