Reserve Advisory Council member profile

Pelika Andrade

Pelika Andrade
2012 – present

"As an indigenous person and a relative to Papahānaumokuākea, relationships are incredibly important. Papahānaumokuākea deserves these protections and designations because it is a reflection of the current state of our own relationships to spaces and places."
– Pelika Andrade, Native Hawaiian

Q: What drew you to participate in the NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council?
A: My first experience with the council was my involvement with the Cultural Working Group (CWG), where I served as chair from 2009-2014. I was encouraged by leadership to apply for a position on the council where I could continue and advocate for the work being done on the CWG.

Q: What are your personal thoughts on the place and why it deserves such dedicated protection?
A: Simply put, we haven’t collectively proven that we know how to take care of our islands. We’ve taken up too much space in this world and it’s time we give some of that space back. When we can get to a place and can prove to ourselves that our own backyards (main Hawaiian Islands) and relationships are healthy, then I support a conversation on changing our relationship with the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. For now, I support the current protections and designations.

Q: What do you see as the Reserve Advisory Council’s greatest achievement during the time you have been directly involved?
A: Like many others, I do not equate policymaking with success. While the council has a lot of potential and holds enough perspectives to give good advice, the “success” lies in our ability to have and host conversations outside of our own perspectives and to create authentic dialogue with communities.

Q: As a member of the council, what is one of your most memorable experiences?
A: The challenging moments are always the most memorable. When we expanded Papahānaumokuākea, there was a push to have the boundary include Middle Bank. Being from Kauaʻi and aware of ʻohana that have relationships to Middle Bank, I fought against having Middle Bank as part of the expansion area. Middle Bank is an important ʻAina to the families of Kauai and the expansion would have severed that relationship.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the council and/or monument today?
A: As Kanaka, we are direct descendants of our islands, including Papahānaumokuākea. Its remoteness is a handicap of sorts challenging our ability to build relationships and take care of the space. Consistent physical access is very important, though earning that access is just as important.

Past and present council member profiles