Viral videos on multiple social media platforms showed a Hawaiian woman confronting White tourists trying to set up a barbecue on the sacred land of Hanakapi’ai Beach on Kaua’i Island.
Healani Sonoda-Pale uploaded two videos of a group of White people setting up tables and chairs on the beach who were working for people in a yacht anchored nearby. The woman who confronted them has been identified as Megan Wong.
Wong confronted the group from the yacht named “just b” about the legality of setting up events on the beach.
“This is illegal. You guys need to pack it up and take it out.”
“We’re already unwelcoming to your yacht in our bay.”
They tried to get her to stop recording but she pressed on.
“It’s a public place, I can record.”
“[Setting up events is] illegal and this is the reason we appreciate yachts like that coming into our places.”
“This is disrespectful.”
Wong said she reached out to the yacht owners to tell them they cannot set up their party.
“They say they really respect our culture and our people but this is not respectful.”
One person asked:
“How is it not respectful?”
“Because it’s illegal.”
“This is a state park.”
“You need permits to do any kind of activities.”
The team setting up decided to start making some calls once she insisted they needed a permit to be there.
Wong insisted they leave:
“Yeah, make some calls and pack it up.”
“We’re gonna also make some calls because you’re gonna have a bigger problem if you don’t pack it up now.”
Wong also asked if planting themselves in random beaches was how they operated their business.
The same man who asked about respectfulness replied:
“Yeah, we set up places, we give our guests a good time and then we leave like there was nothing here.”
“That’s how we do it.”
Wong was clearly appalled:
“But we’re not into you tapping into our places like this.”
“These are sacred places, you don’t just do this.”
The man refused to start packing up their belongings without calling to the yacht first.
That video ends with Wong shouting to people by the water to call to the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) who will fine anyone who does not have a permit to be on the beach.
In the second video, Wong continued pushing for their retreat to the yacht but the man who said he will make calls refused to pack up their things.
“If I pack all this up I lose my job.”
“I am warning you that it’s better that you pack up for your owners of the boat than for DLNR to come and to give you a citation for being here.”
They claimed they would rather deal with DLNR because they’re “official” but Wong explained she runs a community organization and nonprofit that cares for the lands and native peoples.
“I was born and raised here and we have generations from here.”
“We are the eyes and the ears that watch out for things like this.”
They said they couldn’t get ahold of anyone because they didn’t have a signal so they decided to “carry on” setting up their event.
He then asked:
“What’s the damage that we’re gonna do here?”
“No one else can do this, it is illegal to have weddings here, set up tables, chairs—all of it is illegal.”
“But you’re completely disrespecting our rules.”
Many comments were just as upset with the group’s behavior.
Mary Ann Snow/Facebook
Emily Kehaulani Haia/Facebook
Sonoda-Pale captioned the Facebook post:
“They did leave.”
“They had agreed to meet with kupuna but then backed out and said they couldn’t and left at 6am this morning.”
The video also gained several thousand views when posted to TikTok by @manahicrystal.
She captioned the video:
“Only 3 companies have permits to land here this yacht is not one of them.”
Though they didn’t end up having a party that night, it’s unclear if they were ever fined or if they learned their lesson for next time.
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