This month's Malalo i ka Pō Lani monthly Hawaiian Culture Night presentation on Mauna Kea, features Emma Yuen, a Natural Area Reserve system planner for the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Yuen will share information on the history, culture, and potential effect of global warming on the future of Waiau, the highest lake in the Pacific Basin.
From ancient times, Hawaiian culture has recognized the importance of water. The gods Kane and Kanaloa are celebrated for finding freshwater springs. Ancient chants extol water offered to the gods. Mo`olelo no`eau, traditional sayings, reaffirm the importance of water. One of the most sacred bodies of water in Hawaiian culture is Waiau.
The island of Hawai`i holds Lake Waiau high on Mauna Kea, like a jewel in a Tiffany setting. This small body of water is sacred in Hawaiian tradition, and a kinolau (physical manifestation or body form) of Waiau, a goddess of the mountain. In Hawaiian tradition, water which has never touched the ground, such as rainwater water captured in the piko of a taro leaf, is highly esteemed, considered sacred and pure. Lake Waiau nestles high in the Wao Akua, the Realm of the Gods, in a valley shaped somewhat like the piko of a taro leaf. This water continues to be revered by Native Hawaiians, and those who practice traditional Hawaiian culture.
Waiau is one of the world's highest alpine lakes, located at 13,020 feet (3970 m) above sea level in the center of the Pu'u Waiau cinder cone. The name translates to "swirling water" in English.It is the seventh highest lake in the USA, one of the few lakes in the state of Hawaiʻi, and the only glacially formed lake in the mid-pacific ocean. Waiau is the shallowest lake in the Hawaiian Islands, at some 10 to 15 feet (3.0 to 4.6 m) deep and about 1.8 acres (0.7 ha) in size.
The one-hour program takes place at the Ellison Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Malalo o ka Po Lani program at 6:00 pm in the facility’s lecture hall.
Those who come to the Maunakea culture night talks should wear layers, including a nice, warm jacket. Socks, shoes, and gloves are recommended. Bring a bottle of water to drink, and a flashlight. Be polite to those who are stargazing and cover the light with a red lens or filter. Tissues for those whose noses run in cold weather are good, as well. Please read this link for more safety information.
For those unfamiliar with the island, there are no streetlights on the road up the mountain. We must preserve our beautiful dark skies! And, Mauna Kea sticks her head up above the clouds, which means you will be driving through them, so plan for at least an hour of travel time from Hilo. Please read this link for driving information.
For more information on the Malalo i ka Pō Lani culture night programs at the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy, contact the Mauna Kea Visitor’s Information Station. Phone: (808) 961-2180 Fax: (808) 969-4892.