Torch March around Maui to highlight Hawaiian issues

The Maui News
February 19, 2009

Illuminating journey

Around-island march to throw light on Native Hawaiian issues

By KEKOA ENOMOTO, Staff Writer

LAHAINA A group of Native Hawaiians plans to walk around Maui island under the auspices of E Ka’apuni A Ho’a Kukui Na Moku’aina, which means: torch march through the moku, or districts.

Principals of this six-day, nearly 200-mile kaapuni, or circuit, include members of the Kapu ohana of Kauaula – Ke’eaumoku and U’ilani Kapu, and their sons, daughter and son-in-law – and torch-maker John Aquino.

“This is a grass-roots initiative,” Ke’eaumoku Kapu said last week. “Everybody is welcome to participate, everybody.”

The event was timed to close the four-month makahiki season, a period of peace marked in ancient times by religious and sports activities. Ancient Hawaiian alii, or chiefs, and their entourages had made such circumambulations of each island during makahiki.

Besides closing makahiki, organizers want participants to reflect on and bring awareness to concerns, such as ceded lands issues, Kamehameha Schools admissions, water rights, and the health, education and well-being of Native Hawaiians.

The kaapuni will start at Moku’ula, or Malu-ulu-o-Lele Park in Lahaina, late Friday. Kumu hula Kapono’ai Molitau and members of his halau, Na Hanona Kulike ‘O Pi’ilani, will lead Native Hawaiian rituals at 11 p.m.

Organizers will light two of the 12 torches that Aquino had constructed by mounting a can on a 6-foot length of bamboo. The torch symbolizes physical illumination as well as enlightenment in Native Hawaiian culture.

The 12 districts to be visited by in order by the marchers (with rough descriptions of less commonly known areas) are: Lahaina; Kaanapali; Wailuku; Hamakuapoko, which extends from the northwest flank of Haleakala down to the Spreckelsville-Paia areas; Hamakualoa, which includes Haiku and Kailua; Koolau, which includes Keanae; Hana; Kipahulu; Kaupo; Kahikinui; Honuaula, which includes La Perouse and Makena; and Kula.

“The enlightenment is heartfelt, spiritual in nature, and in reverence to our ancestors,” an announcement of the event says. “A lighted torch to represent the enlightenment will accompany those participating. The torch must remain lit throughout the 193-mile nonstop walk around Maui. Should the lighted torch go out, the walk must begin again at Moku’ula.”

Participants will set off at midnight from Moku’ula, and traverse
coastal roads and trails clockwise around the island.

Marchers will acknowledge with protocol the kupuna and ohana in the various moku – such as award-winning recording artist and kupuna Richard Ho’opi’i of Kahakuloa, Foster Ampong at Wailuku, Bully Ho’opai at Hana, ‘Aimoku and Lehua Pali at Kahikinui, and Kaleikoa Ka’eo at Kula.

Ohana members wishing to represent their respective moku in the kaapuni can call Ke’eaumoku and U’i Kapu at 250-1479.

People can join in at any time and trek as far as they wish, Ke’eaumoku Kapu said. They can pinpoint the location of marchers at Web site (click on “News,” then “Local News”).

Prospective marchers are urged to bring layered clothing for varying weather conditions, sturdy walking shoes, safety vests, hats, sunscreen, water, food and headlamp or flashlight for nighttime travel; and to arrange for a pickup at the end of their walking segment.

People also may bring a walking stick and possibly gloves for lava areas.

Organizers said a responsible adult must accompany walkers 17 and younger. A vehicle with a first-aid kit and emergency-communications radio and cell phone will be at the front and back of the caravan. Someone certified in cardiovascular resuscitation will be available as will event informational brochures, although message and protest signs are prohibited.

Organizers estimate the torch march will end Feb. 26 at Moku’ula, with ceremonies to honor deceased kupuna.

Seconding her husband’s call for those interested to join E Ka’apuni A Ho’a Kukui Na Moku’aina, U’i Kapu said of the spiritual journey: “The goal is unity, for all to unite as one.”

* Kekoa Enomoto can be reached at

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