Stewards of Kuleana Lands

Stewards of Kuleana Lands

The kuleana of the Natural and Cultural Resource unit of Kamehameha Schools is to help provide guidance in how Kamehameha Schools cares for their natural and cultural resources

“I’m humbled to think that I might be able to follow in the footsteps of my ancestors. As a Hawaiian, for many of us that’s a goal. You inherit maybe your physical characteristics and you also inherit kuleana,: says Ulalia Woodside, who is the Reginal Manager for Natural and Cultural Resources at Kamehameha Schools.

Ulalia is just one person in this momentous wake of motivation driven by ancestral inspiration, as the image of a vibrant homeland through a thriving people remains constant throughout her entire team.

“The kuleana of the Natural and Cultural Resource unit of Kamehameha Schools is to help provide guidance in how Kamehameha Schools cares for their natural and cultural resources.”

As stewards of 365,000 acres of land throughout Hawaiʻi, Kamehameha Schools faces a significant challenge in addressing and meeting the needs of diverse communities and places. A challenge that Kawika McKeague is aware of having worked with Ulalia and her team as Senior Planner and Director of Cultural Planning, Group 70 International.

“It’s a matter of perspective and trying to understand first and foremost, each of those communities both in its natural form and cultural form and really the community form- they’re very unique so to have the manpower and resources to appropriately deal with those unique situations, or those unique interactions or engagements with the communities- it’s a huge challenge.”

As our ancestors once said though, “ʻAʻohe hana nui ke alu ʻia,” “There is no task too great when shared by all.” This is the perspective that drives the Kamehameha Schools and its land stewardship initiatives. The Cultural and Resource Management Plan is not just a plan, but a commitment and a kuleana to invest into these resources, that provide the physical and spiritual foundation for a thriving Hawaiʻi. The American Planning Association recently recognized the plan for its leadership in changing how cultural resources are managed.

“This plan should be recognized for a number of reasons. One, it was a really important strategic focus and a shift from kind of past looking at this management and cultural inventory,” says Dolores Foley, who is Chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and a judge for the Hawaiʻi chapter of the American Planning Association. “And the other important part of it was the emphasis upon involving community, ʻohana in this process.”

“This plan looks towards connection of our beneficiaries to place and also of developing the next generation of cultural resource managers that will carry forward this kuleana that we have to these lands and the wahi kupuna that they contain,” says Ulalia.

And Dolores couldn’t agree more: “It’s not just the present generations, but the future generations that will value what- the work that they are doing.”

Ulalia believes that there is still work left to be done. “I think the rewarding part of our work is when we no longer see Kamehameha Schools needing to be in the forefront, but we see that we have developed the skills and the leadership in our community, we are recognizing the families and organizations, that have long expertise and genealogical ties and we look to them and look to their leadership.”

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