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Waipio Valley Protestors Block Access To Sacred Hawaiian Land After Partial Reopening

Image: USA Today

The capital of Hawaii is HONOLULU. On Monday, more than 150 people gathered at the Waipio Valley access road to protest the “disheartening” partial reopening of the route to tour companies.

Since last Monday, four-wheel drive cars have been allowed into the valley by County of Hawaii Mayor Mitch Roth for “all Hawaii Island residents, county-permitted tour business operators, and individuals desiring to perform their Native Hawaiian traditional and customary rights.”

The mayor issued an emergency proclamation in February, closing the valley to everyone save Waipio Valley residents, farmers, and others, due to the “hazardous circumstances” of the access road, which constituted a “danger to public health and safety.” According to a geotechnical analysis, the steep, narrow road is vulnerable to landslides and rockfalls.

To paraphrase a statement made by the organization Safeguard Waipio Valley, those who are against Roth’s decision feel that his proposed changes are in “clear contravention of previous and present safety concerns” of those desiring to protect the valley. Decisions that affect the Waipio kupuna (elders), farmers, and ohana (family) cannot and will not be made without their involvement.

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