Maui Business

Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce Event Features Update on Kahoʻolawe

August 6, 2018, 4:10 PM HST
* Updated July 31, 1:37 PM
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Michael Nahoʻopiʻi, Executive Director of the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) will update Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce’s members on the ongoing restoration of Kahoʻolawe during its next membership dinner on Thursday, Aug. 16 in the Nahele Room of Kahili Restaurant in Waikapū.

Archeological evidence suggests that Hawaiians came to Kaho‘olawe as early as 400 A.D., settling in small fishing villages along the island’s coast. To date, nearly 3,000 archeological and historical sites and features indicate Kaho‘olawe as a navigational center for voyaging, the site of an adze quarry, an agricultural center and a site for religious and cultural ceremonies.

Post-contact, Kaho‘olawe would be used briefly as a penal colony, for sheep and cattle ranching and eventually transferred to the U.S. Navy for use as a bombing range. Litigation forced an end to the bombing in 1990 and the island was placed under the administration of the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC). Following a 10-year period of ordnance removal, control of access to Kaho‘olawe was transferred to the State of Hawai‘i in 2003. Today, the KIRC is responsible for the restoration and sustainable management of the island until it can be transferred to a Native Hawaiian entity to manage.

KIRC executive director Michael Nahoʻopiʻi joined KIRC in March of 20018. He is a former U.S. Navy Officer-in-Charge of Kahoʻolawe during the island’s conveyance to the state of Hawaiʻi, Mike was a senior manager during both the early model cleanup and the larger Kahoʻolawe UXO Clearance Project, undertaken by Parsons-UXB for the Navy.

After the cleanup, he managed safety and engineering programs for the Hana Group and was a program director for the non-profit Pacific American Foundation. Mike graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a degree in Electrical Engineering, from the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Power School as a NuclearEngineer and from Chaminade University with an MBA. Mike served in the Navy as a submarine officer and commanded a SeeBee (Navy combat engineers) detachment.


“My family moved to Kihei in 1976 so we experienced windows rattling from the bombs dropped on Kahoʻolawe,” said MNHCoC president Teri Freitas Gorman. “We honor the bravery of George Helm and Kimo Mitchell who lost their lives trying to protect Kahoʻolawe. Today’s heroes include Mike Nahoʻopiʻi and the thousands of volunteers who travel to the island for the hard work of restoring the island’s native ecosystem to maintain this significant cultural reserve. We urge the community to come out and hear about KIRC’s progress.”


No-host cocktails and networking begin at 5:30 p.m. Admission is $25 for members and $30 for non- members. Pay in advance at or call (808) 757-3045 to pay by phone. The deadline for RSVPs is Sunday, Aug. 12.


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