Makua Valley

Makua ValleyMy hiking partners and I hiked up Kealia Trail, which begins in back of Dillingham Airfield in Mokuleia, ascends the mountain face via a number of switchbacks, then continues over to Makua ridge, ending in this overlook of Makua Valley.

The military has already used it extensively for live bombing tests and military training. It took the community many years to stop the bombing but the military wants it back, to make a “world class” roadside bombing and counterinsurgency training center. They say it will better prepare them for fighting in Afghanistan. I donʻt think so.


I love dogs, mostly I love animals in general but I am not particularly a cat person. I’ve never had a real pet (other than a fish) because I travel so much and because I’m not good at cleaning up after them. My fish was a total character (who thought an angel fish could have so much personality!) and when she died several years ago, I was devastated and didn’t want to go through the death of a pet again.


Last week, my friend’s daughter brought home a box of kittens that had been left to die. I happened to be at their house she came home with the kittens. They were supposed to be left at the humane society but when the daughter was told they were going to be destroyed because they’re so young, she brought them home instead, much to her parents’ dismay. When we all looked in the box, of course everyone melted and a space was set up for them.

I contemplated bringing one home and rejected the idea immediately as I know nothing about cats, let alone four week old kittens who have been taken from their mother prematurely. One week later the cats were still at my friend’s house and for some reason, I decided I should take one. So I did, named her Makana, which means gift, which is what I felt she was to me. It was a traumatic couple of days trying to litter box train her but we got through it. When I could finally let her loose in the house and then loose outside, things got much better. But I still wasn’t sure about this arrangement and was not happy that she was scratching and biting me so much, even if it was only in play. Last Friday night I was ready to return her to my friend. The following night I came home with a second kitten! I brought one of her sisters home to keep her company and named her Hehoa, which literally means companion. I thought a second kitten would be either a stroke of genius or madness. It took two days to litter train her and as of now, everything is going great. They play with each other, inside and outside and they hang with me when I let them. They are not only the cutest, they are also the coolest! So we shall see where this goes from here…. It’s hard to take a picture of kitties, they don’t stop moving unless they’re asleep.

Vision Statement for Bishop Estate trustee application

These are selected parts of the essay I submitted as my application to become a trustee of the Bishop Estate. It was evidently not what the search committee was looking for, nevertheless it sums up my thoughts about the qualities that I believe are necessary to move Hawaiʻi into the future, not just as a Bishop Estate trustee but as a leader of our State:


Bishop Estate Trustee Cover Letter and Vision Statement

“There was once enough for everyone. That was before Captain Cook “discovered” our Hawaiian islands on his way to find a northwest passage, before the missionaries came to save our heathen ancestors and before the American businessmen called in the U.S. Navy to protect their land investments. For centuries before western contact, the Hawaiian people flourished. There was no disease, no hunger, no homelessness, no economic recession. That was then. Today, we who call Hawaiʻi home are mostly mainstream Americans, often holding two or more jobs just to survive, and are dependent on the outside world for everything, even bottled water.”

This was the opening paragraph of “Economic Recovery – Hawaiian Style”, an essay I wrote last August 2009 for a national competition entitled “Native Insights on Economic Recession”, sponsored by the Alaska Federation of Natives. This essay was selected as the winner of the Native Hawaiian category and was published in several national journals and newspapers, including the Honolulu Star Bulletin, in addition to winning a cash prize. It was most recently the single piece chosen among the winning essays for publication this past March in Yes! Magazine, a national journal that supports active engagement in building a just and sustainable world.

Writing this essay last summer was an opportunity to contemplate the nature of economic problems, from micro to macro, Hawaiʻi to the global marketplace and the many variables that control the delicate balance between growth and recession. I didn’t have any startling revelations, just the conclusion that we already have everything we need, not only to maintain a thriving economy but also to live healthy, fulfilled lives. This is a belief I have been living, writing about and encouraging for many years, including in my novel, Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me:

“Looking directly back into Moana’s eyes, Uncle Buddy responded. “Your family has always been very connected to the ocean. The cultural practices of your ancestors assured that food would always be plentiful, that the sea, in its bounty, would provide for everyone. This was our peoples’ way of life for centuries. Everyone took individual responsibility for their kuleana. Today, outsiders with different values control our islands… [They] will simply leave when there is nothing left to take. Many of the old ways that sustained us have already been lost, traded in for fast food and television. Moana, your ancestors gave you the knowledge of how to take care of the ‘āina, the kai, but it is up to you and your generation to decide how you will use it and what will become of Hawaiʻi.” (pp. 95-96)

In thinking about leadership and the future of our Islands, there is much to consider that goes beyond the narrow scope of how to grow the economy. The practice among Hawaiʻi leaders, including those in both government and industry, has been to rely heavily on outside and unsustainable solutions to fix our problems. This includes waiting for lower worldwide oil prices that will in turn increase tourism, the single industry that continues to determine the success or failure of our overall economy; favoring construction jobs as a quick fix for unemployment, regardless of environmental or future economic impacts; and reducing public services while imposing higher taxes on a community that is already stretched to its limits.

The outcome of such leadership is evident – foreclosures and bankruptcies that continue to rise in spite of renewed economic growth, public school furloughs that lasted a full school year, and increasing homelessness. And Native Hawaiians bear the worst of the socioeconomic impacts, as we have for well over the past one hundred forty years.

The specific mandate of the Bishop Estate trustees, as clearly articulated in Section Thirteen of Princess Pauahi’s Will and Codicils, is to maintain the Kamehameha Schools, manage her estate, and to the extent possible, educate and support Native Hawaiians in indigent circumstances. The issues of survival and well being of the Hawaiian people have not gone away since Pauahi wrote this one hundred twenty seven years ago, they have only evolved with the times.

I believe that strong leadership is at the heart of change, and change we, as a community, must if our future is to include a stable economy, a clean environment and a healthy population. Literacy, technological skills and sustainability are of utmost importance in achieving these goals and vision, and strategies must proceed at all levels and on all fronts. As long as all policies are made in the context of what is best for Kamehameha Schools students, the Native Hawaiian community and our beloved ‘āina, such decisions, will, in turn, benefit the entire Hawaiʻi community, now and in the future.

Each trustee brings his – and her – particular perspective, skills and life experience to the board, and the more diverse the individuals, the greater the synergy. Vision, courage and a deep respect for Hawaiian values must be at the core of each trustee’s principles, and from there will be an assurance of integrity and fairness in all decisions.

Motivated by a desire to pursue creative projects, I left my last full time job six years ago. Since then I have most notably produced several short films, taught, managed a business and written. My creative projects have allowed me to travel to present my work and participate in forums with other indigenous filmmakers and writers. [This past June I received] the American Indian Library Association award for ʻBest Young Adult’ fiction of 2010 for Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me. This is the first time Hawaiian literature has been acknowledged by this long-standing and influential organization and I am honored to help create opportunities for future Native Hawaiian literary writers to have their work recognized and embraced by a larger audience, as I have always believed strongly in the importance of telling our own stories.

For the past eighteen years I have also paddled on outrigger canoe crews, competing successfully in regattas, Molokaʻi channel crossings and international world sprint races. Paddling has, besides keeping me healthy and in touch with the community, been an important link to both my culture and my seafaring ancestors. I especially value the ongoing lessons of haʻahaʻa and laulima, both of which are integral to the teamwork of making the canoe move forward swiftly and smoothly.

There is much work to be done to fulfill Pauahi’s vision. The Kamehameha Schools will always be at the heart of her directives, yet in the times in which we are living, in which so much has already been lost, the objectives must be broad if they are to accomplish the survival and well being of the people. I believe it is possible for the leadership of the Bishop Estate to move the entire Hawaiʻi community in this direction.

Submitted by Lurline Wailana McGregor

May 26, 2010

Review: August 2010 Honolulu Magazine

Lurline McGregor, a local screenwriter and film producer, can now add another title to her list of credits: award-winning author. McGregor spent two years writing her 2008 novel Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me; this year, it won the American Indian Youth Literature Award for Best Young Adult Book.

REVIEW2010“It’s very exciting,” says McGregor, who traveled to Washington, D.C., in June to accept the award from the American Indian Library Association (AILA). She’s the first Native Hawaiian to win an AILA award. “This is my first attempt at writing fiction,” she says. “I feel very grateful and blessed for everything that’s happened.”

In the novel, a Hawaii-born anthropologist is torn between a glittering career on the Mainland and her Hawaiian ancestral responsibilities—in particular, the repatriation of a cultural artifact. The dilemma was inspired by the real-life controversy earlier this decade in which the group Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawaii Nei reburied artifacts loaned to it by the Bishop Museum.

McGregor was also inspired by how the New Zealand-themed movie Whale Rider authentically portrays Maori culture, while remaining a universal story that resonates with a wide audience. In the same way, she wanted to write a story about her own Hawaiian culture and was concerned about it being accurate.

“I wrote [Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me] to be true to the culture, to tell a fictional story based in our history, beginning at a time when humans and gods moved freely among each other,” she says. “I’m not glamorizing or stereotyping or otherwise manipulating information about cultural practices or the community for the sake of entertaining the reader.”

Her dedication to cultural accuracy has also paid off in another way: Since the spring of 2009, Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me has been used in school curricula, both locally and on the Mainland, at the high school and college level. “It shows there is a demand, at least in curriculum, for local and Hawaiian literature,” she says.

McGregor is currently working on a prequel to her book. “It’s a whole different journey and it’s been very rewarding doing the research,” she says.

Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me is available at major bookstores and at




Merata Mita

I was shocked and deeply saddened to read that Merata Mita passed away. It was evidently sudden and totally unexpected and so a flood of memories rushes in as I think of the tremendous impact she had not only on the indigenous filmmaking community in general but on my life in particular.


I first met Merata sometime in the early nineties, when she came to Hawaiʻi to present one of her films at a fledgling film I had started as executive director of Pacific Islanders in Communications. I wasnʻt very familiar with her or the world of Maori filmmaking before then but by the time she left, I was in complete awe of her and of everything going on in the Maori film community in Aotearoa. Intimidated is probably a better word as I held her in such high esteem for everything she was doing for her community that I felt inadequate, and she was an inspiration to do much more. I learned much about my own culture listening to her and learning about what “indigenous storytelling” really means in telling a story through film.

We became friends over the years and she was very generous towards me with her time and advice. I will always be most grateful for the day and a half that she came to my house and sat with me to go over every word of my screenplay, “Between The Deep Blue Sea and Me”. She had had sent me copious notes in advance, as a result, our meeting was probably one of the most productive writing meetings I have ever had. She did this as a favor, not as a paid consultant, and told me she would mentor me to direct the film because she felt so strongly that I should direct it. The novel that I have since written from the screenplay (also “Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me”) even has phrases that are her direct words that I wrote as she talked. She encouraged me in whatever work I was doing, even invited me to sit in on one of her “Indigenous Esthetics” film classes as I was preparing to teach my own film course in indigenous esthetics.

Thanks to Merata and her keen intellect, her steadfast convictions, her cultural sensitivities, her creative mind and her unending generosity there is not only an indigenous film community but it is healthy and growing, including the body of work she has left behind. Her own Maori community of filmmakers has already achieved a level of recognition and excellence that we as Hawaiian filmmakers hope to reach ourselves some day. And thanks to Merata I am a better filmmaker if not a better teacher and person. Mahalo nui loa Merata. Your life mattered to many, many people and I grieve with the rest of the Maori and indigenous filmmaking community at your passing.

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