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Community Visioning in Moloka'i, Hawai'i

Moloka'i is an island in the Hawaiian chain, it is approximately 38 miles by 10 miles, and has three volcanoes. The population is 7,000, mainly Hawaiians with some Filipinos and Caucasians. Most of the land is privately owned and there are some large-scale foreign land owners. Community visioning started in Moleka'i in May1998 and one of the first activities was to develop a visioning statement.

Visioning statement

Moloka'i is the last Hawaiian island. We who live here choose not to be strangers in our own land. The values of aloha 'aina and malama 'aina (love and care for the land) guide our stewardship of Moloka'i's natural resources, which nourish our families both physically and spiritually. We live by our kupuna's (elders) historic legacy of pule o'o (powerful prayer). We honour our island's Hawaiian cultural heritage, no matter what our ethnicity, and that culture is practised in our everyday lives. Our true wealth is measured by the extent of our generosity.

  • We envision strong 'ohana (families) who steadfastly preserve, protect and perpetuate these core Hawaiian values.
  • We are a wise and caring community that takes pride in its resourcefulness, self sufficiency and resiliency, and is firmly in charge of Moloka'i's resources and destiny
  • We envision a Moloka'i that leaves for its children a visible legacy: an island momoa (abundant) with natural and cultural resources, people who kokua (help) and look after one another. And a community that strives to build an even better future on the pa'a (firm) foundation left to us by those whose iwi (bones) guard our land.

Over a four-month period the community, the Moloka'i Enterprise Community, prepared a strategic plan which aims to achieve economic growth and community development through environmental protection, the promotion of a diversified agriculture, encouragement of tourism, and the addition of new community facilities. Since 1998 they have been implementing their plan; their successes are outlined in a Benchmark Summary Report, and include:

  • Diabetes is a serious problem, especially for older Hawaiians, and the community visioning process resulted in a dialysis centre being established on Moleka'i so that people can receive treatment while living at home with their families
  • Fish ponds are being restored
  • Taro patches are returning to Moleka'i
  • Moleka'i recognises the need for development, but maintains that it has to be done the 'community' way, compatibility is the key word
  • During a conflict with the largest landowner, families and the communities became divided; now the community is working on a land use plan with the landowner, based on their vision statement
  • Moleka'i succeeded in preventing cruise ships from coming and docking on the island, instead the passengers are brought via tenders from neighbouring Oahu
  • The State Government were rather dismissive of the community strategic plan at the beginning, however, now in the sixth year the situation is reversing and policy makers are asking how they can be part of the community plan

Students in the library at the Aka'ula School

  • Establishment of a new independent middle school, Aka'ula School, with a curriculum based on environmental education that serves students regardless of income.
  • A project to control goats and fire in the Kawela Watershed so as to reduce land-based pollution and improve coastal water quality and coral reef health

See more at http://www.molokaiec.org


To get involved, contact :


Coastal Regions and Small Islands Platform
UNESCO, Paris, France
fax: +33 1 45 68 58 08

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