Haleakala National Park celebrated its 100th anniversary July 30, 31 and Aug. 1 with events and activities in both the Kipahulu and Summit districts of the park. Festivities honoring the park’s centennial included talks; hikes; music by local band Nevah Too Late; the induction of a new Junior Ranger; and the sharing of Hawaiian traditions through cultural demonstrations.
During a ceremony on the exact date of the anniversary, August 1, Superintendent Natalie Gates spoke about the future of Haleakala while reflecting on the visions of the park’s founders. “In our Junior Ranger programs, we ask kids what they want to see in 50 years–when they come back with their grandchildren,” Gates said. “The kids mention the silversword, nene, the crater, the waterfalls…. I imagine that in 1916 the founders of the park had similar hopes–that their grandchildren would see silversword, nene, and other natural and cultural wonders. We can see these wonders today and I hope we will see them in the future, thanks to … continued care, support, and stewardship.”
Superintendent Gates paid tribute to the park staff, volunteers, partners, local residents, and visitors who have protected Haleakala, noting that many generations cared for the area before it became a national park; Haleakala National Park and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park were established Aug. 1, 1916 as one unit–Hawaii National Park – before becoming separate parks 45 years later. “In 1916, the National Park Service joined in the stewardship of this land,” Gates said. “We are lucky that so many of our staff, volunteers, partners, and local residents continue to share wisdom passed down from their kupuna to help us be better stewards.”
Gates also spoke about park highlights through the decades. She said the 1960s will be remembered for the reintroduction of endangered nene into the wild; at the time, the endangered bird had completely disappeared from the island. The birds were reintroduced into the park by Boy Scouts and rangers who backpacked into the crater with the birds on their backs.
A highlight of the 1970s–1976 specifically–was the addition of the Kipahulu District to the park. Gates praised the dedication of Hana and Kipahulu residents and thanked the generosity of the Rockefeller family for helping make that inclusion happen. Also in 1976, more than 19,000 acres of the park were designated as “wilderness,” the highest level of federal protection for critical habitat, native species and natural processes.
In the 1990s, Gates said the park began expanding its partnerships. Environmental groups including Friends of Haleakala National Park and the Kīpahulu `Ohana began working with the Park Service to protect species, habitats, and cultural treasures and to share Hawaiian stories and traditions.
Most recently – through the 2000s – the park expanded its education and internship programs to reach out to young people from kindergarten through college, the next generation of stewards.
Park ranger Honeygirl Duman ended the August 1 ceremony encouraging the staff, volunteers, partners and the public to continue working together for the good of Haleakala. She said park stewardship is akin to paddling a canoe. “We all paddle the canoe together,” Duman said. “We all have jobs that keep the canoe moving forward. It takes all of us.” Duman closed the evening with a Hawaiian blessing followed by birthday cake for all attendees.
Saturday evening July 30, rangers and local photographers gave the public tips on sunset and night sky photography during an InstaMeet at the Haleakalā summit. And on Monday, visitors watched the sun rise over the majestic land and celebrated the #CentennialSunrise, the first sunrise of the park’s next 100 years.
To further celebrate the park’s 100th anniversary, the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, in partnership with Haleakala National Park, will host an exhibit featuring all Hawaiian national parks from Aug. 28 to Nov. 6, 2016. The Friends of Haleakala National Park and the Hawaii Pacific Parks Association are two sponsors of this exhibit. For more information visit Mauiarts.org.
The three-day centennial celebration was supported by the Hawaii Pacific Parks Association.
Photo: Kenny Louie/Wikimedia Commons