Hawai‘i County Department of Research and Development, tourism division, brought together community members and leaders of Puna on March 29, 2023, to talk and share about visitor-facing concerns for lower Puna Coastline. We shared our concern for Puna and some ideas that may help the community address these problems. Here are some of the statements we heard:
“We are concerned about and know we need to work together to take care of Puna, and our communities that live here. It takes a collaborative effort from all of us to prepare for the influx of visitors once the road opens. Some of these places shouldn’t be accessible because it is unsafe. If we understand what everyone is doing, we can work together to manage and protect these areas. There are visitors who illegally suntan nude on the beaches. We need signage, stewards and to work with landowners. The Community needs to find a way to redirect visitors away from iwi kūpuna, scared sites and dangerous areas to a nearby park or beach that can be safe and easily accessible to visitors. Visitor FAM tours should be arranged with community-leaders to ensure Puna stories are shared correctly, that visitors are informed of scared areas, learn about private lands they should not be trespassing, and to teach visitors about dangerous grounds and water conditions in these areas.”
Community meetings to address some of these concerns and ideas will be held in a month. If you are interested in joining in the discussion, please contact Rachel Kaiama, DMAP Manager at IHVB at [email protected].
In a Hawaiian culture context, we share the ‘ōlelo no‘eau - "E nihi ka hele i uka o Puna mai ʻako i ka pua o lilo i ke ala o ka hewahewa" "be cautious in the forests of Puna, do not pluck the flowers, lest you be lost in the pathways of errors.” Let’s work together to take care of Puna and our communities. Mahalo to those who attended the meeting to share mana‘o.