Leighton Hind ’04 is currently working as a caretaker with Hui Aloha Kīholo, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and perpetuating the natural and cultural resources of Kīholo Bay. After graduating from HPA, Leighton studied botany and Hawaiian language at UH Hilo. His family has close ties to Kīholo Bay, as stewards of the land there for centuries. We talked to him about his work at Kīholo, Hawaiian history, and HPA.
How would you describe your current role with Hui Aloha Kīholo?
My current role for Hui Aloha Kīholo is as hoa’āina, a “friend of the land.” As a hoa‘āina of Kīholo, I am responsible for the management of all of the natural resources and human activity at Kīholo Bay from Kalaemanō, the southern point of Kīholo Bay, to Laehou, the northern Point.
We understand that you have a pretty significant breadth of knowledge about Hawaiian history.
How did you come to that interest, and are you able to apply it in your work at Hui Aloha Kīholo?
I grew up around great storytellers and beautiful places. My dad is a great storyteller and he always shared his knowledge of place, culture, and history with me and my sister, Hannah. His stories of paniolo life and the stories of family…I always wanted to hear more! So my interest started at a young age. I definitely apply it to my work at Kīholo daily. Sharing the history and stories of the land and ancestors, and being able to give back and work the same land as them…it’s amazing.
Do you have a favorite historic Hawaiian hero or story?
I have many favorite stories, but one of my favorites is the story of Iwaha’o’o, the shark man of Pu’uanahulu that frequented Kīholo Bay for feeding. Ku’ulei Keakealani, our cultural director for Hui Aloha Kīholo and a great friend, shared this story with me, and if you ever have a chance to hear one of Ku’ulei’s mo’olelo, you will have a favorite story to share as well! As far as a hero of Hawaiian history, I have many, but one definitely would be Mary Kawena Pukui. All of her research and skilled work she had done for Hawaiian language, song, and dance—really Hawaiian culture and tradition as a whole…she is a hero I admire for sure.
Does your work at Hui Aloha Kīholo also require biological knowledge of Kīholo Bay?
At Kīholo we practice kilo which means to observe. We observe what is going on around us in our natural environment. What fish are around or not around? What is the moon doing? Which trees are flowering? Just simply quieting yourself and your mind to observe is such a great practice. You start to see patterns, and you start to know a place.
Did any teachers, classes, or experiences at HPA help lead to where you are now?
Hawaiian history freshman year with Mr. Liu was one of my favorite classes. That class not only fueled my passion to learn more about my roots and culture but also it taught me how to take good notes which helped throughout the rest of high school and college. Mahalo, Mr. Liu! And the many others at HPA who helped me on my path … Mahalo!
Editor’s note: This profile first appeared in the fall 2018 issue of Ma Ke Kula.