(In light of the current debate over GM Taro in the Legislature, we are reprinting these comments posted by retired Big Island plant researcher Buttons Lovell in response to the first protest against modification of Taro at UH Manoa. Originally printed in the online comments section of Ka Leo O Hawaii March 6, 2006. This view deserves far wider exposure than it received.)
Never had I been so ashamed of being Kanaka Maoli. A gathering to honor Haloa turned into a show to teach the young ones present that it is OK to disrespect. Our Kupuna at least taught us others Manao was to be heard so that dialogue could be established to work through problems. All this was, was a shouting match. Honor Haloa naka, is this our honor. Where was this honor in 1948 when Hawaiians abandoned the loi. By 1901 we lost 297 varieties and 20 families. Where was the caring then?
The UH collected and cared for some thing they considered important. The accomplishments of a people, the Hawaiians. They asked no money or help but cared for HALOA for 104 years with no help from any of you or the people. They should burn and be ashamed of this. When the Chinese and Japanese took over the loi for rice no one minded. When the Orientals grew and milled 80% of the taro who cared? Production kept sliding until we grow the smallest taro crop in the world amongst 65 countries. Even Florida produces more taro in one month than we produce in a year. A fitting tribute to Haloa. When they (UH) tried to help cure the diseases of Kalo we responded with "What gives you the right".
The UH responded to this gathering/Protest with the idea of making headway into something which should be right for all. They were met with Boo's & Jeers. So much for dialogue. We have lost so much as a people and now we sacrifice our integrity and all that our Kupuna have taught. This does not sit well with Hawaii Island Kupuna who say "Right or wrong they should have listened, as long as the mouth is open the ears are shut." They believe that our opio are being taught the ways that most of us hate, and our new cultural experts are no longer our kupuna.
A Reference was made to Mahele dividing the land for sale like this is dividing our Mana. I guess we now pass judgment on our Moi Kamehameha III, why stop there? King Kamehameha I pulled people from the land to cut and sell sandalwood and left our people hungry. Judge then Liholiho when he sided with step-mom in breaking the Eating Kapu and the destruction of our religion with the burning of the Heiau. Lets not leave out Lunalilo who did nothing and Lot Kapuaiwa who wanted to be like his grandfather but was not strong enough to do it. Princess Pauahi was asked to help but refused and became the wife of the man who plundered artifacts and her money to die penniless. On the same line is Kalakaua noted for Merriment, drinking and gambling with the rich plantation owners. Why stop at the Mahele? I am sure as part-breeds we can all find someone or something to dump on.
To make a difference, don't we need to talk. To gather knowledge, to overcome that which seeks to destroy us all. If we keep locked in the past, we can never move forward. We check on it to make sure our course is true and move ahead. We fight in this world. To fight in the old way, most would die by an ihe in the chest. Try to challenge the old Moi!
Hawaiian Kalo cannot be patented at any time by anyone. This does not stop the sale of all of the Hawaiian varieties by nurseries across the country along with Walmart & Kmart. Check your internet and see. Hawaiian Kalo for sale like Pi'i Ali'i, Moi, Lehua, Uahiapele, etc. We now accept the sale of our brother for years with no one saying anything.
The vice Chancellor came to hear what the Hawaiians wanted and was to receive a list of demands/suggestions. She received NOTHING. Decisions were in the process of being made to use whatever money to save the Hawaiian collection and to fund Hawaiians scholarships in this line of study. Talks were in the process to increase the output of Kalo on new lands to increase production for viable Hawaiian businesses to bring it into the same spotlight as the other major Hawaiian exports. Do you think they will talk now? This is the second time they have been asked to talk and twice they have been ridiculed. If it was me, there would be no third time.
Go to the patent office, sue them and get the patents reversed. It is no problem for the UH because they issued no patent. Make sure whatever you get is shared with Figi, it is half theirs. Remember 50,000 years ago kalo was from China/Indonesia, do you think it might be theirs to share. And by the way the people "Of the corn" are Hopi. Corn was cultivated from teosinte along with beans and squash and were considered the three sisters which gave the people life. At the same time they cultivated potatoes which they also considered a relative all being done about 8000 BC. We all connect with what we consider important, that is why the prayer "Mitakuye Oyasin", it means we are all related.
If you want to be heard, if this is so important then treat it as such. Sit at the table and discuss, or stand outside, shout and wave signs. Who do you think will be heard.
Retired, Waimea, Hawai`i