Eyes and Ears Network
By Barrie Moss, Outreach Coordinator
Pelekane Bay Watershed Restoration Project

Photo: Girl Scouts from Troop #12 removing ginger from Waiakamali Stream in the Koai‘a Sanctuary on a recent service day.

The Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC), in collaboration with the Kohala Watershed Partnership (KWP), presented an informational meeting for community members and agency representatives in Waimea on September 30. This was the first of several planned meetings to inform the larger Waimea community about currently established and approaching invasive species. At this meeting BIISC announced the creation of its Eyes and Ears Network, an organized network of community members dedicated to recognizing invasive species, learning proper eradication techniques, and actively educating others.

BIISC is a voluntary partnership of private citizens, community organizations, businesses, landowners, and government agencies that addresses invasive species issues on the Island of Hawai‘i. Although the majority of their work focuses on pest control and eradication, BIISC is increasingly incorporating research and sustainability components. Learning as much as possible about the dynamics of a particular infestation enables successful control and long-term planning for restoration.

Photo: Eye in the sky – KWP field leader Brad Lau surveying for Rauvolfia vomitoria via helicopter. Photo by Jan Schipper.

Jan Schipper, Program Manager, explained BIISC’s three-pronged approach to invasive species. The first component is “Early Detection and Rapid Response.” Two BIISC botanists survey island transportation corridors to identify new species that are just getting established and that could become a potential threat. They utilize remote sensing via airplane or satellite to map and monitor more inaccessible regions of the island. Remote sensing is already proving invaluable in identifying the rapid spread of Rauvolfia vomitoria (Poison Devil’s Pepper) trees in the North Kohala region and in mapping the extent of its territory. Accurate population data allows for more effective planning for both containment and control than would be possible with more traditional on-the-ground survey methods.

Photo: The Early Detection Team “island rover” is barely visible through the gorse infestation on Mana Road, where this prolific invasive species is overtaking the entire landscape with its spines and yellow flowers. Photo by Jan Schipper.

BIISC’s second prong is “Outreach and Education.” Building capacity through partnerships is integral to the success of any invasive species control program. To this end, BIISC is now launching its community-based “Eyes and Ears Network” in Waimea and North Kohala. The focus of this network will be on identifying “what’s in my backyard.” Each community network will assess their own local priorities and then develop tools and skills for successful identification and eradication.

The ‘eyes and ears network’ idea, proposed by Jan Schipper and Page Else of BIISC, is intended to help Waimea be on the alert for coqui and other invasive species by learning how to identify them while there is still time to attack them. When Jimmy Parker and Bobby Parsons (the BIISC Early Detection Team) spoke about their multi-year effort to identify all roadside invasive species on the island, one of the species they mentioned was ‘rubber vine,’ a plant they have identified at a couple of locations in the Kawaihae area. Seeing pictures of the vine immediately made me want to check out a vine growing over a neighbor’s wall. On the way home from the meeting, I stopped to take a picture of the neighbor’s plants, matched my pictures against pictures on the ‘Early Detection Targets’ list on the BIISC Web site, and was able to establish that the plant exists on the dry side of Waimea as well as in Kawaihae. —Sherman Warner, President, Waimea Community Association

Photo: Bobby Parsons and Jimmy Parker, BIISC Early Detection Team, examine non-native grasses off Mana Road to determine if species are spreading and becoming “invasive.” Photo by Jan Schipper.

The third component of BIISC’s strategy is “Control of Established Invasive Pests.” This prong focuses on containing an infestation or protecting an area from becoming infested. Many areas on this island are already so impacted that management and eradication is beyond the limited resources of BIISC. This is, however, not the case in Waimea, where only a few of BIISC’s target invasive species have a serious foothold and where containment and eradication are still possible. For example, miconia (Miconia calvescens), a fast growing, broad-leaved ornamental which is native to the tropics of the Americas, has established a pervasive presence over a vast swath of the wetter regions of Hawai‘i Island, where it is commonly called the “purple plague.” It overtakes entire habitats, pushing more native species towards extinction. BIISC is working to ensure that this plant does not gain access to the native watershed of Kohala, an area which is currently miconia free.

The three target species for BIISC’s efforts in North Hawai‘i are:

(1) Little Fire Ant (LFA) (Wasmannia auropunctata) – These tree-nesting ants have very painful stings and will negatively impact agriculture, homes, pets, and tourism. They are easily trafficked in potted plants unless an effective baiting system is established to identify their presence.

Photo: The Little Fire Ant ("LFA" - Wasmannia auropunctata) is a tiny, pale red, slow-moving ant that inflicts a nasty bite that will swell and fester. Bait them with a little peanut butter on a chopstick (as in the photo). If you think you have these ants on your property, please call the invasive species hotline! Photo courtesy of Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council Web site.

(2) Coqui Frogs (Eleutherodactylus coqui) – Native to Puerto Rico, they threaten native insects which feed native birds and pollinate native plants. Their loud nocturnal calls disturb sleep and peace of mind. In Hawai‘i, density of coqui frogs per acre has risen to 20,000.

Photo: (left) The coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui) is much beloved in its home range in Puerto Rico, where it is a balanced component of the native forest. In Hawai‘i, the lack of predators and disease has allowed the population of coquis to explode; in some places the population has reached over 20,000 frogs per acre, causing sleepless nights for local residents and a major threat to native insect populations. Photo courtesy of Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council Web site.

(3) Poison Devils’ Pepper (Rauvolfia vomitoria, aka “Ralph”) – Native to Africa, their rapid growth of 1 foot per month allows them to out-compete every other plant and tree. No completely effective control method currently exists. Every part of this tree is toxic. One tree produces thousands of seeds that are spread by exotic birds.

Photo: (right) Raymond McGuire (BIISC) takes a break from coqui control to help crew members fight Rauvolfia—here with a syringe applicator which is used to deliver a small but effective dose of herbicide. Less herbicide is good for Hawai‘i’s environment and our budget. Photo by Jan Schipper.

View the complete list of BIISC early detection targets on their Web site at Visit to find out how you can help protect the environment of Hawai‘i by joining the Eyes and Ears Team.

A Hawaiian Perspective
By Leilani Basham, Mellon-Hawai‘i Postdoctoral Fellow

Photo: Ka leo kūolo o ka ipu. Talking story and cleaning ipu in preparation for learning a hula pā ipu with the keiki of Hālau Kupukupu Ke Aloha. December 2009.

I was born in Texas and raised in various places on the U.S. continent. I also spent about two years outside of the U.S. I went to school in Texas, Louisiana, Michigan, Jamaica, and then back to Texas for high school. My most prominent memories of these places are of being the new kid on that proverbial first day at a new school. But then, before long, I adjusted and made friends.

On multiple levels, my education in Jamaica was probably the most influential. Jamaica has a British-based school system which is more advanced academically than U.S. schools. Jamaican schools presented a different perspective on history, a British perspective, and shed a much different light on the U.S. in terms of its origins, the American Revolution, and who the heroes (or traitors) of those events were. From this experience, I learned that history was all about perspective and that the same set of actions could be interpreted in different ways and mean really different things to different people, yet still hold truth. Once I had the opportunity to learn about Hawaiian history, I wanted to know what the Hawaiian perspective on our history was, rather than the foreign and colonial one found in most history books.

My very first Hawaiian language lesson was when, at age six or seven, my grandma taught me to say things like “Kulikuli” and “Aloha au iā ‘oe,” including the translations and appropriate contexts for use (the first for teachers I didn’t like and the second for boys that I did). He wahine kolohe nō ‘o ia… ke aloha nō!

Photo: Kau ka pe‘a, holo ka wa‘a. Students and faculty from University of Hawai‘i - West O‘ahu at Kahana, O‘ahu, for the welcoming of the Hōkūle‘a and participation in a wa‘a kaulua workshop on Kānehūnāmoku, a training vessel for Hawaiian navigation. October 2008.

My semi-formal language study started in hālau with my kumu and her husband, Māpuana and Kīhei de Silva; and then, once at the university (in 1988 or so), I took my first formal class with Esther Moʻokini at Kapiʻolani Community College. When I transferred to UH Mānoa, I continued studying through fourth year and took other topic courses also, receiving a certificate in Hawaiian language in 1993.

My fluency is something I still have to work on. I would say that whatever proficiency I have is a result of studying hard in the classroom and committing to speak Hawaiian outside of the classroom. You have to have both and they have to complement each other. It’s a constant learning process of vocabulary and grammar coupled with use, self-reflection, listening to those around you, and reading, etc. I feel incredibly privileged to have had the time to learn a lot about our language, but I’ve also worked hard for it. I would also say that I’ve never seen Hawaiian language as the goal in and of itself. Rather, I’ve always seen is as a component, albeit a foundational one, of Hawaiian knowledge that includes history, political science, and cultural practice.

Photo: A‘a ka hula, waiho ka hilahila ma ka hale. Students of Hālau Kupukupu Ke Aloha dance at Ke‘ē on Kaua‘i. August 2008.

I started dancing hula in 1985, at age 18, initially as a way to do something Hawaiian and get to know more about cultural practice. My kumu, Māpuana de Silva and her husband, Kīhei, instilled in their students the importance of language knowledge and historical knowledge, so that when I began to study Hawaiian language, history, and politics at the university, hula served as a cultural foundation that kept all of that knowledge grounded. For me, hula is an absolutely amazing practice because it is so much more than merely cultural or physical. In fact, it incorporates and encompasses history and politics also, as it expresses and engages the emotional, spiritual, and mental faculties of the dancers.

My main community work is centered around my hālau hula where I teach hula and oli (chant), and also the historical and political contexts of those mele (poetic texts). In addition, we also study Hawaiian language in order to better understand our mele. Outside of regular weekly classes, this includes trips to other islands and excursions on Oʻahu to visit the places where our mele are centered and thereby increase our knowledge experientially, as well as mālama ʻāina (stewardship) activities, and other historical, political, and cultural activities as well.

Photo: Hale ipu kukui ku‘u aloha. The kumu, students, and families of Hālau Kupukupu Ke Aloha on our excursion to Makapu‘u Lighthouse. That day, we shared the story of Hi‘iakaikapoliopele and her arrival at Makapu‘u on her journey across O‘ahu. We also wanted to check out the lighthouse since the keiki were learning a hula noho kālā‘au about a boat journey from Maui to O‘ahu that tells about a lighthouse. March 2009.

Initially, the reason I decided to pursue a doctoral degree was just because I wanted to teach at the university, and if you want to do that and do it really well, then you need a Ph.D. When I was a student in the Political Science Department, I began to understand more about, explore, and really enjoy the other aspects of the academy—the exploration of ideas and knowledge, research, attending conferences, publishing work, etc.

Truthfully, my decision to pursue a Ph.D. in political science was largely based on my desire to work with a specific faculty member in the program, Dr. Noenoe Silva, who was a friend and previously a colleague in the Hawaiian language program, where I was teaching at the time. Dr. Silva served as my advisor, the chair of my dissertation committee, and is now my mentor for the Mellon-Hawai‘i Fellowship.

In addition to my appreciation for Dr. Silva, her teaching, research, methodology, and pedagogy, I am also grateful for the knowledge and skills I gained from other faculty in the department in terms of understanding the structures of power and the administration of power in society. I also will be eternally grateful for the department’s support of my desire to write my dissertation in Hawaiian without having to do a translation into English, as I had done for my master’s thesis. That in itself was an empowering process and reflects their understanding of the power dynamics of language.

Photo: He lei aloha no ka makua. Leilani celebrating her graduation with her mom, Marilyn Schoenke. January 2008.

I am also grateful to my mom, Marilyn Schoenke, for raising me to be a strong, independent woman and to my kumu hula, Māpuana de Silva, for teaching me and trusting me with her knowledge.

I think first and foremost, my goal is to give people more knowledge of Hawaiian history and political theory and practice from a Hawaiian perspective, so that people know the ways in which our kūpuna (elders) told our history and asserted our political rights and also protested the overthrow of our Kingdom, and its illegal annexation to the U.S. The more than 300 mele lāhui I am analyzing are a unique and important aspect of the history of this period that have often been overlooked by historians who do not read Hawaiian sources. These mele represent the voices of the people themselves, their actions, experiences, perspectives, opinions, and emotions.

Photo: Kūnihi ka mauna i ka laʻi ē. Leilani and students from HPST 496S Kūnihi Ka Mauna: Hula Journeys following their hō‘ike (performance) where they shared hula and oli and also historical, political, and cultural information on their mele in a performance for their families, friends, and the university community.

In the last 20 years the Hawaiian people have increased our ‘ike kupuna (ancestral knowledge) in many areas—our history, politics, language, and cultural practices. Political people have become more culturally grounded and centered. And cultural practitioners have gotten more politically active and engaged, which can only serve to strengthen us.

I think it’s important to pursue higher education because it’s a path to knowledge. I believe that all forms of knowledge are empowering and create choices for people that they did not previously have. For those of us privileged enough to get an education, it is important that we share that knowledge with others and share the choices that knowledge creates.

Photo: Aia i ‘Īkalia kō lei nani. Kumu Leilani Basham and students from Hālau Kupukupu Ke Aloha along with members of the Inca nation at Lo Spirito del Pianeta, an indigenous dance festival held in Chiuduno, Italy. May 2010.

I would like to do an anthology on Hawaiian sexuality, gender, and marriage, again with the goal of understanding the ways in which Hawaiians defined, identified, practiced, and socially constructed this aspect of their lives. The foundation of this work is understanding the meaning of words and ideas, such as wahine, kāne, māhū, aikāne, ho‘āo, and others, and using Hawaiian mo‘olelo (stories) to analyze and better understand Hawaiian practices and perspectives. The anthology would include several essays containing critical analysis of the meaning and usage of these concepts within moʻolelo, the implications of these values and practices in contemporary society, along with some reprinted moʻolelo or excerpts of moʻolelo in Hawaiian that center around these ideas.

The biggest challenge for me is the writing process itself. I thoroughly enjoy the research, the inquisitive part of it. I like thinking about it and talking about it, sharing ideas with mentors, friends, and students. But when it actually comes to the writing, I usually describe it as painful—which is why I am truly appreciative for the opportunity this fellowship affords me. Now, I have the space and time to go through the process and complete it.

Photo: Kūlia i ka nu‘u. At Ka‘ala, looking towards Kaua‘i with students from the University of Hawai‘i - West O‘ahu following a day of mālama ‘āina activities that included invasive species eradication and story-telling. November 2008.

It’s an honor to receive the Mellon-Hawai‘i Fellowship because this means that other Hawaiian scholars believe in the quality and caliber of my research and trust me enough to invest precious resources in my work for the future benefit of our people. During my fellowship, my goal is to complete my book manuscript on mele lāhui and to find a publisher interested in the project. Following the fellowship, I look forward to getting back to my faculty position at the University of Hawai‘i - West O‘ahu and continuing to develop and expand the Hawaiian-Pacific Studies, Hawaiian language, and performing arts programs there.

I hope that my research as well as my commitment to produce scholarly writings in the Hawaiian language will serve as a source of additional knowledge for present and future generations, becoming part of the foundation upon which we will continue to build.

Featured Films: Waimea Ocean Film Festival

This January, as whales start to frolic off the Hawai‘i Island coastline, films that embody the beauty, power, and mystery of the ocean will lure film buffs and ocean lovers together. The Waimea Ocean Film Festival aims to inspire greater protection for the ocean, celebrate the joy and beauty of the ocean experience, and honor the Hawaiian cultural reverence for the land and the sea. —Tania Howard, Executive Director, Waimea Ocean Film Festival

The following are a few of the films to be featured at the Festival, which runs from January 5-9, 2011. Filmmakers will be on hand to answer questions after most of these films.

180° SOUTH
180° SOUTH is the story of one of the most unique and prolific environmentalists of our time – Yvon Chouinard. Rather than telling Yvon's story through old photos, 180° SOUTH weaves Chouinard's tale through a modern day expedition. This expedition was inspired by the rumor of a legendary trip in 1968—a trip which did in fact happen. Lost cans of film documenting the trip were recently discovered and have been incorporated into the film. This old footage captures Chouinard and best friend Doug Tompkins in 1968 as they explore untouched mountain ranges and an un-surfed coastline on a 5,000 mile expedition from California to deep Patagonia. For both men, the original '68 adventure still stands as "the trip of our lives."

Waverider is a beautiful film which explores the Irish-Hawaiian background of modern surfing, as well as surfers along the wild Irish coast.

Sun Come Up
Sun Come Up follows the relocation of some of the world’s first environmental refugees, the Carteret Islanders—a community living on a remote island chain in the South Pacific Ocean. When rising seas threaten their survival, the islanders face a painful decision: they must leave their beloved land in search of a new place to call home. The film follows the Carterets’ relocation leader, Ursula Rakova, and a group of young islanders led by Nick Hakata as they search for land in Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua, New Guinea, 50 miles across the open ocean.

Papa Mau
Papa Mau The Wayfinder recounts the fundamental role that master navigator Mau Piailug played in revitalizing the Polynesian cultural identity by teaching Hawaiians the dying art of traditional voyaging without the aid of instruments.

Set across the vast Indonesian island chain, Melali: The Drifter Sessions features Rob Machado—one of the most stylish and skilled wave riders of our time. Melali returns to the fundamentals of surf cinematography by focusing on the surfing experience, the artful relationship between man and surf, and the sharing of this experience with good friends.

Climate Refugees
A “climate refugee” is a person displaced by climatically induced environmental disasters. Such disasters result from incremental and rapid ecological change, resulting in increased droughts, desertification, sea level rise, and the more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, cyclones, fires, mass flooding, and tornadoes. Such extreme weather events are causing massive migrations and border conflicts. The Pentagon now considers climate change a national security risk and the term climate wars is being talked about in war-room like environments in Washington, D.C. Climate Refugees features climate scientist Stephen Schneider and former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

Bag It
Bag It is a light and wonderful, and yet very powerful film about our ever-increasing use of plastic and about the resulting changes to our oceans, to the environment, and to ourselves. Bag It has won awards at film festivals across the country. Learn more at

Fiberglass and Megapixels
Local filmmakers Derek and Craig Hoffman take a behind-the-scenes look at the surf industry. Swarms of photographers arrive in Hawai‘i every winter to focus their cameras on the best surfers in the world as they push the limits of wave riding. Fiberglass and Megapixels shines the light on Hawai‘i's North Shore winter surfing scene.

Ocean Voyageurs
Christine Brammar from the Hawai‘i Islands Marine Wildlife Sanctuary remarks that Ocean Voyageurs presents “some of the most beautiful whale footage I have ever seen.” From Feodore Pitcairn Productions, this film is truly a testament to the beauty, grace, and joy of the Humpback whale.

Sponsors of the Waimea Ocean Film Festival include: Gaia Creative; Four Seasons Resort Hualālai; Mauna Kea Beach Hotel; Hapuna Prince; The Fairmont Orchid; Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy; Parker School; Fujimama’s; Milsal+Partners; Joe Fagundes III (Kona Law); Ken Ransford, PC; and Starbucks Coffee.

Learn more and purchase tickets at