As our delegation of 25 sacred site guardians traveled to the IUCN World Conservation Congress in September 2016, our first stop was the island of Maui, where we were welcomed by members of the Protect Kaho`olawe Ohana (PKO).

Altaian nature park founder Danil Mamyev commented at previous IUCN Congresses that indigenous spiritual leaders need time beforehand to come together in ceremony — to ask permission of the spirits of place and to unify in mind and spirit. “This links the guardians, connects the sacred places, and makes us all stronger,” said Danil.

To assist with the greening of the sacred island of Kaho`olawe, which can be seen to the south of Maui, Native Hawaiian Luana Busby-Neff led a rain ceremony on Maui that included all of the guardians. PKO members are restoring Kaho`olawe after successfully stopping 50 years of bombing by the U.S. Navy. The island needs love (aloha `aina) and rain to heal, so “Aloha `Aina — Calling the Rain” is our documentary report on the first phase of the sacred site guardians gathering in Hawai`i.

In a second film segment, coming in January, the guardians will move on to Kaho`olawe to visit sacred sites on the island and conduct a second ceremony.

From Kaho`olawe the guardians travel to Honolulu for the World Conservation Congress, where they attended film screenings, spoke on panels, issued an indigenous declaration, and lobbied for successful passage of Motion 26, calling for “No Go Areas” that prohibit extractive industries from World Heritage Sites, all categories of IUCN protected areas and sacred natural sites. In a great victory, the motion passed and is now official IUCN policy. After the Congress, IUCN announced the creation of a new category of membership for Indigenous Organizations.

We will combine the three segments into a complete short film in early 2017.

Thanks to Hawaiian filmmaker Matt Yamashita for fantastic camerawork and Josh Pastrana and Nainoa Langer for sound recording.