Reserve Advisory Council member profile

Female portrait

Kanoeʻulalani Morishige
2020 – 2021

"I am honored to be a part of this group that grew from the legacy of kanaka who fought to protect Papahānaumokuākea."
– Kanoeʻulalani Morishige, Conservation Representative

Q: What drew you to participate in the NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council?
A: For the last decade, I have been a part of various PMNM accesses integrating intertidal research, Hawaiian knowledge systems, and cultural practice. Being on the council is part of a kuleana I see for myself to engage in authentic and open discussions shaping decisions that support the cultural and natural health of Papahānaumokuākea in perpetuity.

Q: What are your personal thoughts on the place and why it deserves such dedicated protection?
A: Papahānaumokuākea deserves protection because our kūpuna islands are spaces that reveal the depth of ʻike kūpuna (ancestral knowledge) and allow ʻāina to thrive. Papahānaumokuākea reminds us of the interconnectedness of our cultural and natural systems and helps us recognize the kuleana we have to support its health and productivity for many generations to come.

Q: As a member of the council, what is one of your most memorable experiences?
A: One of my most memorable experiences thus far has been seeing ʻōiwi (Native Hawaiian) representatives in diverse seats advocating with open minds and speaking from places of experiences and connection to the communities we serve.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the council and/or monument today?
A: One of the biggest challenges is building capacity for Native Hawaiian and local communities to access Papahānaumokuākea through various roles as community members, scientists, ocean safety personnel, etc. Access is important for kanaka to connect, engage, and bring these stories from our kūpuna islands to their communities and beyond. However, it needs to be done in a pono way for the right reasons.

Q: Why should people care about protecting the monument?
A: In a world where indigenous people have been displaced and the connection to our environment has been severed, Papahānaumokuākea represents a continuum of a deep cultural heritage grown from a millennia of knowledge, practice, and reverence for the environment and people that have thrived together. These spaces cultivate deeper connection and provide guidance to strengthen healthy and productive relationships to our paeʻāina (archipelago).

Kanoeʻulalani Morishige is a Marine Biology PhD candidate at UH Mānoa

Past and present council member profiles