What about offerings?

I walk a short distance from the road looking for a vantage point to set up a camera and note three different offerings within a minute, you can do this at any random spot with a good view along the summit road. They are everywhere, old leis pinned underneath rocks, the remains of little bags filled with shells and coral, ti leave bundles bleached nearly white by the weather.

An old offering
An old offering of shells and coral in a cloth bag left atop Mauna Kea
Out of respect I leave them alone, as does most everyone who spends time on the mountain. They are never in my way, I just note them and move on. But what can you do about these offerings when they begin to be an issue for the environment?

Previously the rate of offerings was fairly sedate, their appearance uncommon but steady. At the summit, at Lake Waiau, at out of the way ahu that few ever notice. Since the TMT controversy started the rate of offerings appearing on the mountain has multiplied tremendously.

In the lowlands, the forest, the seashores, offerings like these would quickly return to the earth from which they were created. The natural process of decay ensuring that the materials are cycled back into nature. The summit of Mauna Kea is different, the very dry environment preserving plant materials for years or decades. Other offerings include materials that do not break down so readily, shell, coral and cloth can persist for a very long time.

Is there a correct way for a cultural practitioner to remove offerings from an area? Is there someone who can be tasked to do this? Many other religions include rules for handling offerings left at shrines or altars, if only to make way for further offerings to be left. Is there no choice but to leave them in place?

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

2 thoughts on “What about offerings?”

  1. Andrew,
    I would recommend contacting Danny Akaka, the Hawaiian Historian at the Mauna Lani Resort. He is highly respected and would likely know how to properly proceed.

    1. The question is somewhat academic at this point. I do not intend to go around removing offerings. But I have noted a big increase in the number I have seen while on the mountain and have wondered if this is beginning to be a problem.

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