Mai Ka Pō Mai - Native Hawaiian Management Guidance

Mai Ka Pō Mai cover with undersea image in the background.
Mai Ka Pō Mai cover. Background image: James Watt/NOAA.

Developed through continuous and regular meetings with the Native Hawaiian community since 2010, the Co-Trustees of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument recently released Mai Ka Pō Mai (MKPM), a historic guidance document to help federal and state agencies further integrate Native Hawaiian culture into all areas of management.

MKPM establishes a collaborative management framework that guides Co-Trustee agencies towards integrating traditional Hawaiian knowledge systems, values, and practices into all areas of management. This collaborative management framework will serve as the foundation for the development of the next version of the Management Plan.

Based on conceptual components of Hawaiian cosmology and worldview, MKPM articulates values and principles that guide 20 strategies within five management areas that align with Native Hawaiian culture and values, as well as the various agency mandates and missions. This constitutes a new commitment for managing agencies to undertake the next journey of knowing and understanding the qualities of Hawaiian existence that will honor the natural and cultural significance of Papahānaumokuākea.

Pō and Ao map of Papahānaumokuākea.
Mokumanamana sits just north of the Tropic of Cancer, a circle of latitude around the Earth that marks the northern-most position of the sun where it appears directly overhead at its zenith, or highest position. Along this path, when the sun is directly overhead, your body will not cast a shadow. This has significance in Hawaiian cosmology, non-instrument navigation, and traditional cultural ceremonies around the world. Image: Kaleomanuiwa Wong,

The title of this guidance document, Mai Ka Pō Mai, translated as "coming from pō", touches upon several ways in which the cultural concept of pō influences the management of PMNM. For one, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are recognized by some cultural practitioners as existing in a realm of pō, both by its location to the west of the population centers of Hawai‘i, as well as by its location largely north of the Tropic of Cancer, delineating the northernmost track of the sun. Pō also ties this guidance document into Hawaiian concepts of creation, wherein pō is the source of the world and all that dwells therein. For this reason, pō is also recognized as a fundamental source for our contemporary creative expressions. This guidance document is inspired by the values exemplified by the original vision of the Monument which is “to forever protect and perpetuate ecosystem health and diversity and Native Hawaiian cultural significance of Papahānaumokuākea.”

MKPM will serve as a foundational guide for the PMNM managing agencies and permittees carrying out activities within Papahānaumokuākea. It challenges those entrusted with the care of Papahānaumokuākea to broaden their perspectives and to reimagine management that is informed and enhanced by Hawaiian cultural heritage

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