POSTED: 8 MAY 2007 - 8:00am HST

A Preliminary Moku District Proposal

Half size version of simplified diagram showing Moku Districts on the island of Kauai. Click to enlarge.

Soliciting Constructive Comments and Feedback

by Jonathan Jay & Juan Wilson on 7 May 2007

Over the last 40-50 years, in response to the increasingly obvious excesses and shortcomings of industrialization, some of the most visionary and committed environmental theorists of 'the West' have called it 'Deep Ecology' - the notion that political jurisdiction and land management boundaries should stem directly from the land itself, and be based on the the natural contours of the local watershed.

Coincidently convergent, for more than 1,000 years the first inhabitants of what we today call Hawai'i were sustained - not by abstract ecological theory - but by lived cultural practice... of essentially the same idea.

Known in Hawai'ian as Ahupua'a (ah-who-pooh-ah'-ah) the islands were divided mostly along ridge lines and water sheds into roughly pie-shaped wedges that were typically wide along the shoreline, and narrowed to a peak towards the center of the island. Most ahupua'a had at least a slice of each of the different parts of the island: coast, fertile valley, a stream or river for water supply and agriculture, upland forests for timber and so forth... and access to the resource base each environment could offer.

Individual ahupua'a were assembled politically into Moku (mow-coup) or regional districts whose boundaries shifted in different historical times based on the ebb and flow of political fortunes of competing regional chiefs. Simply put, the ahupua'a and moku divisions made sense, and promoted equitable resource access, and responsible land management. Today we call this 'sustainability'. To the First Peoples, this was common sense. We would do well to follow their lead.

Although a continued interest in districting on Kaua'i has been shown over the last ten years:( our present island governance structure still does not reflect this. It emains 7 at-large seats.

Each time this issue has come up, the proposal has been a compromised "half" measure the included a combination of at-large and districted seats, has been poorly supported by any viable organizations, yet has been only narrowly defeated each time:

NO - 9,552 or 50.41%
YES - 9,395 or 49.59%
Less than 200 votes difference!

It is our contention that IF a new districting measure is placed on the ballot for 2008 that follows these four principles:

1) clean and simple - 7 seated districts to match the existing council total, and minimize change from old to new

2) is not watered down - ALL seats districted, NO at-large positions

3) based upon historically valid Kaua'ian ahupua'a, watershed boundaries, and Moku

4) aggressively supported by an array of progressive environmentalists and some portion of the local Hawai'ian community

Several highly desirable outcomes are more than likely:

a) the Ahupua'a/Watershed districting amendment will pass

b) working relationships will be forged among progressive environmental groups and the local Hawai'ian community

c) Hawai'ian traditions that have proved the test of time and the best thinking of the environmentalist 'West' will be combined, elevated, honored and put into practice

d) regional representation for Kaua'i will be greatly enhanced for all of the rest of the island beyond Lihue and Kapa'a

e) grassroots groups will be able to compete in smaller democratic contests more effectively in the elections to follow, like the next Mayoral round of elections in 2010, and the inevitable land-based mana'o will begin to more deeply permeate our thinking and governance across the island.

In short, ALL our our multiple agendas will be that much more enhanced and empowered. Since the land and the environment is the basis of everything we do, our collective foundation will be that much more firmly grounded - We will ALL benefit greatly... and so will Kaua'i.

Several Important Items to note:

• The divisions shown on the map on the other side are provisional - they are not carved in stone.

• There will likely be many strong divergent opinions about where the lines should be drawn.

• We are intending to start a conversation - your input is actively and enthusiastically invited.

We don't know how the details will finally emerge and resolve before signature collection finally begins, but we are certain if we follow the four principles laid out in the paragraph above, a tremendous amount of good will come of it, and we ask that you strongly consider what role you and your organization can play in the successful passage of the Ahupua'a County Council Districting Amendment to the County Charter we are now proposing.

Mahalo for your mana'o

For a more detailed (11"x17") version of this proposed map please contact:

Juan Wilson: Architect-Planner
phone: (808) 335-0733

see also:
Island Breath: State Ahupuaa 4/23/2006
Island Breath: Kauai 2030-2050 12/31/2006

and also: