Michael Naho‘opi‘i to discuss status of Kaho‘olawe restoration
KAHULUI – Michael Naho’opi’i, executive director of the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC), will update Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce members on the ongoing restoration of Kaho’olawe during its next membership dinner on Thursday, Aug. 16, in the Nahele Room of Kahili Restaurant in Waikapu.
No-host cocktails and networking begin at 5:30 p.m. Admission is $25 for members and $30 for others. Pay in advance at www.mnhcoc.org or call (808) 757-3045 to pay by phone. The deadline to register is Sunday, Aug. 12.
Archeological evidence suggests that Hawaiians came to Kaho’olawe as early as 400 A.D., settling in small fishing villages along the island’s coast. To date, nearly 3,000 archeological and historical sites and features indicate Kaho’olawe as a navigational center for voyaging, the site of an adze quarry, an agricultural center and a site for religious and cultural ceremonies.
Post-contact, Kaho’olawe was used briefly as a penal colony, for sheep and cattle ranching, and eventually transferred to the U.S. Navy for use as a bombing range. Litigation forced an end to the bombing in 1990, and the island was placed under the administration of the KIRC.
Following a ten-year period of ordnance removal, control of access to Kaho’olawe was transferred to the State of Hawaii in 2003. Today, the KIRC is responsible for the restoration and sustainable management of the island until it can be transferred to a Native Hawaiian entity to manage.
Naho’opi’i joined KIRC in March 2018. He is a former U.S. Navy officer in charge of Kaho’olawe during the island’s conveyance to the State of Hawaii.
He was a senior manager during both the early model cleanup and the larger Kaho’olawe UXO Clearance Project undertaken by Parsons-UXB for the Navy. After the cleanup, he managed safety and engineering programs for the Hana Group and was a program director for the nonprofit Pacific American Foundation.
Naho’opi’i graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in Electrical Engineering, from the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Power School as a Nuclear Engineer and from Chaminade University with an MBA. He served in the Navy as a submarine officer and commanded a SeeBee (Navy combat engineers) detachment.
“My family moved to Kihei in 1976, so we experienced windows rattling from the bombs dropped on Kaho’olawe,” said MNHCoC President Teri Freitas Gorman.
“We honor the bravery of George Helm and Kimo Mitchell, who lost their lives trying to protect Kaho’olawe. Today’s heroes include Mike Naho’opi’i and the thousands of volunteers who travel to the island for the hard work of restoring the island’s native ecosystem to maintain this significant cultural reserve. We urge the community to come out and hear about KIRC’s progress.”
MNHCoC membership is open to anyone with an interest in perpetuating the spirit of aloha through commerce, culture and community. For more information, see www.mnhcoc.org.