Posted on Jan 1, 2023 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

(Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline, O‘ahu) – A little rain fell after sunrise, but the brief shower was a fitting conclusion to the 10th First Day Hike hosted by the DLNR Division of State Parks (DSP).

Warm temperatures and sunrise views of Moloka‘i and Haleakalā on Maui preceded the annual celebration of culture in chant, performance, and music, with an estimated 500-700 early morning hikers making the short trek to the Makapu‘u overlook.

Among the New Year’s Day early risers is the recently nominated chairperson of the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Dawn Chang. Her first trip to the viewing platform above the Makapu‘u Lighthouse did not disappoint. Nor did the traditional blowing of pu promptly at 7:08 a.m., the first sunrise of 2023, followed by an oli and then a rousing performance by students of the Taiko Center of the Pacific.

“I was in awe of the sheer number of people who came out. Welcoming the new day as the sun came up, represented by different cultures between the taiko, with the oli, and the blowing of the pu, for me it was spiritual,” Chang commented.

First Day Hikes are staged by state parks systems across the country. Hawai‘i may host the only event that includes a broad range of culture-centered performances. This year’s Kaiwi hike did include trinket giveaways like in so many other states. The glow in the dark wrist bans that helped mark walkways and stairs were given to keiki.

Chang called the event awesome and applauded the leadership and staff of DSP for great organization. She added, “As I begin my term today, this is a renewal of new opportunities and a reawaking. I’m so grateful for the opportunity, provided by Governor Green, to serve the people of Hawai‘i, by being the first Native Hawaiian woman to chair DLNR.

In addition, incoming First Deputy Laura Ka‘akua and continuing Water Deputy Kaleo Manuel are both Native Hawaiian. This is the first time in DLNR history, Native Hawaiian leadership has filled the department’s top three positions.

In addition to the taiko drummers, the pu was blown in the four cardinal directions by Gabriel Spencer of Ke Leo O Laka I ka Hikina O Ka La. The oli was presented by Dr. Sam Gon and Halau Mele. In addition to DSP’s organization, the Honolulu Police Dept., and the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) provided safety for hundreds of people crossing the highway from their cars.

“After seeing this first day of 2023 from this vantage, I know we have a lot to be grateful for and I appreciated being at the hike,” Chang said. The visit ends with an iwa bird, sailing high overhead.

Dawn Chang’s position as DLNR Chair started today and is subject to legislative confirmation.

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HD video – First Day Hike 2023-Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline media clips (Jan. 1, 2023):


HD video – First Day Hike 2023-Pu, Oli & Taiko Drums (Jan. 1, 2023):


Photographs – First Day Hike 2023-Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline (Jan. 1, 2023):




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