Guides to the Garden

A new audio track helps Kauaʻi tourists be respectful of Hawaiian culture and lands

  • 27 February 2020
  • Author: Frederika Bain
  • Number of views: 3642
Guides to the Garden

Mehana Vaughan (NREM) has collaborated with two other scholars to research, create, and implement a new audio track to be played on the tourist shuttles that travel to remote parts of Kaua‘i. She worked with Kapua Chandler, a UCLA doctoral candidate with a Kaua’i family history, and Devin Kamealoha Forrest, kumu hula and master of ‘Olelo Hawai‘i, to inform riders about the sacred areas of Kaua‘i and the roles they have played throughout Kaua‘i's history, as well as how to have a respectful and safe visit. The project uses the shuttle ride as an opportunity to stress the importance of respecting Hawaiian culture and lands. 

Mehana says that the project can help tourists be more respectful to the island during their stay. She notes that the manner in which tourists visit has changed, due in part to Airbnb and other non-traditional housing methods and also to the proliferation of maps, reviews, and other user information available via smartphones. Many more tourists now traverse the island without knowledgeable guides. 

After Kaua‘i’s disastrous flooding in 2018, Mehana says that people started to notice “the vital importance of the community finding ways to be hosts again despite this new economic model that is so damaging to our place, if only to ensure that visitors can be safe.” She explains that the audio track, although it seems simple, is “an opportunity to welcome and educate people and help them see below the surface of the history and value of our place, as well as how it’s changing, and they can contribute to positive, rather than damaging, changes.”

Read the Civil Beat article here.